Southard Motorsports Earns Second Podium of Rolex Series Season Shane Lewis and Craig Stanton Fight for Third-Place in Phoenix DP Battle AVONDALE, Ariz., May 13, 2006 -- Southard Motorsports earned its second podium finish of the Grand...
Southard Motorsports Earns Second Podium of Rolex Series Season
Shane Lewis and Craig Stanton Fight for Third-Place in Phoenix DP Battle
AVONDALE, Ariz., May 13, 2006 -- Southard Motorsports earned its second podium finish of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season tonight here at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). It is also the second career Daytona Prototype podium finish for driver Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.) and the first Daytona Prototype (DP) podium for Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.). The result was anything but a forgone conclusion for the No. 3 TrueChoice/ PAP-Parts BMW-Riley after starting 13th in the two hour and 45-minute GAINSCO Grand Prix. The Steve and Martha Southard-owned operation pushed hard to put itself in the position to take advantage of an over-aggressive battle for second-place late in the event. While the leader pulled-away, contact in the battle for the second spot allowed Lewis, then in fifth-place, and several others around the second and third-place runners with just ten minutes remaining. The multi-time Grand American-sanctioned race winner was then able to hold off a charging Max Angelelli, the defending class champion, while closing on second-place to take the team's second career podium. The first came at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April.
Stanton, who had never driven a prototype of any kind prior to his debut in the Southard car two races ago at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), did a stellar job from the drop of the green flag. The 2004 Grand-Am Cup and 2005 Rolex Series GT Champion immediately laid down quick lap after lap all while fighting for position in the Daytona Prototype class and tearing through the slower GT class cars embroiled in their own race. His performance moved the team into the top-10 and kept the BMW-powered car on the lead lap while other contenders fell behind. Stanton showed the kind of precision most often reserved for drivers with countless more laps in the purpose-built race cars moving up from 13th to sixth before the team's only pit stop. Stanton would hand-over driving duties to Lewis, who has been lead driver of Southard Motorsports since 2004, on lap 93, one hour and forty minutes into the event. Once in the car, Lewis continued where Stanton left off. In fact, Lewis set the race's fastest lap, a time of 58.723 seconds around the 1.51 mile PIR road course on lap 107 of 149. The time was .033 quicker than the next fastest time set by the No. 89 which finished just 2.75 seconds in front of the Powell, Ohio-based Southard Motorsports team.
Today's run underlined the point that the Southard Motorsports team has been making since the Long Beach Grand Prix; they can run with the traditional standouts of the Rolex Sports Car Series. The third-place adds to a string of podiums for both drivers, including victories for each, here at the track in suburban Phoenix. It also strengthens the team's marketability which has always excelled off the course with the popular Lewis and Stanton but needed another podium to prove its on-track capabilities.
A tape delay broadcast of the GAINSCO Grand Prix can be seen on SPEED at 3 PM (ET), Sunday, May 14. A re-broadcast can also be seen on SPEED at 12 PM (ET) on Tuesday, May 16.
Shane Lewis, driver: "That was everything I had. I'm spent. We really struggled with the heat all week with the setup of the car. But it just came to us at night when the temperatures came down. After the weekend we'd had we were just happy with fifth; then I looked up and second and third tangled and we were in third. After that, I wasn't about to give up the podium. I drove it for all it was worth. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. Max [Angelelli] and I had a great battle. The key to this whole race for us was the pit strategy. Steve [Southard] was calling the strategy and it was perfect. Craig brought it in without a scratch on it and that is what it takes to podium at Phoenix. Craig did a phenomenal job. He has learned this car far faster than anyone we've ever had get in it. The Southard guys are at the top of their game, the new Dinan engine was great and it all came together here. We still have work to do but this feels really, really good."
Craig Stanton, driver: "This is really special. I just wish we had another race tomorrow; I'm ready to go again. I've known Shane Lewis for 20 years and I have never, ever, ever seen him drive like he did tonight. He was on it. The combination of the new motor, some new electronics and the guys working so hard has made this happen. The race strategy paid off. It worked out perfect. The car really started working on the long runs and when the temperature went down. I think we had the best car on the long runs and that really helped us tonight. Being in the GS race earlier today gave me an idea of what to expect with the tires. [Stanton finished seventh in the BGB Motorsports Porsche in the Grand-Am Cup GS race]. That allowed me to find my pace early on. I'm just really, really excited to be a part of Southard Motorsports. The team is just like one big family and they have accepted me into their family. It really inspires you to race as hard as you can for them."
For more on Shane Lewis please see www.ShaneLewis.com.
Information on Craig Stanton is at www.CraigStanton.com.
Southard Motorsports can be found at www.SouthardMotorsports.com.