While the event started well for both the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche and the Magnus Racing No. 44, separate incidents would leave the hopeful Rolex GT championship contenders wanting more. Brumos would fight back from deep in the field to finish fourth at the end of the race while the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry would be awarded 11th at the conclusion of the two-hour race.
Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.) narrowly missed the pole position during yesterday’s qualifying session to start second. The Brumos driver held that position for the first 45-minutes of the race, much of it in a nose-to-tail fight for the lead. The 2011 GRAND-AM GT class champion pitted the car with roughly one-hour and 15-mintues to go during the race’s second full course caution handing driving duties to teammate, and fellow 2011 champion, Leh Keen (Charleston, S.C.).
When the green flag flew for the restart, Keen, fighting for second-place, made contact with the No. 70 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito. GRAND-AM officials deemed the contact avoidable and charged the No. 59 with a penalty of a stop plus 15-seconds. The sentence dropped Keen to 11th with just over an hour remaining on the clocks. As it has so many times in the past, the Brumos team rose to the occasion.
Keen marched the car up from outside the top-10 into the top-five within 20 minutes of the penalty! As the minutes ticked down, Keen continued to cut into the gap to third-place. Had the race been the standard “sprint race” format length of two-hours, 45-minutes, it is probable the Brumos machine would have had its third consecutive podium finish. As the race was scheduled for only two hours, time ran out on Keen’s mission. Brumos would finish fourth.
"Once again the Brumos Racing crew had our #59 Porsche 911 running great for the race. The start went as planned for the most part, and I was able to gap the cars behind me while hanging onto the leader. I knew we would be in for a battle, for the lead car seemed very quick. I did, however feel that our Porsche had a slight advantage for the long run.
The crew performed flawlessly in the pits, but we were never able to fully recover from the stop and go penalty given after Leh's unavoidable contact in the second corner. Leh drove like a man possessed for the rest of the race, and was able to claw his way back to a respectable 4th place finish," said Davis.
While the Brumos car was cutting its way up through the field, the Magnus machine would taste the disappointment of going in the opposite direction. With owner/driver John Potter starting the No. 44 Magnus Porsche from seventh, the Salt Lake City, Utah-resident had one of his best stints of the year. When he pitted for the driver change to Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.) approximately 45-minutes into the race, Potter had gained two positions and was in fifth.
For Lally, he could ask no more from his co-driver than the enviable top-five position from which to start his pursuit of the team’s third victory of the year (Rolex 24 At Daytona and Brickyard Grand Prix from Indianapolis the earlier two). Knowing the challenges of passing on the tight 2.709-mile, 15-turn road course, Lally took the bit in his teeth. Within 12 minutes the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year had the grey-on-white Magnus Porsche into third. However, it would all be for naught.
Fighting for second-place with just under an hour remaining, Lally made hard contact with the second-place runner. The impact punctured the center radiator of the three-radiator system that Porsche uses on its iconic 911 design. The Magnus crew was able to make a repair in only seven minutes but by then, the No. 44 had fallen five laps to the GT class leader, four laps to tenth-place. Magnus was forced to settle for 11th.
“Definitely a heartbreaking day,” said Potter. “We had a real shot. The guys gave us a fast car and the incident was just unfortunate. I have to give big credit to the guys though. They showed great preparation getting the radiator fixed in seven minutes.”
Two races remain on the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car calendar. The Porsche teams travel to the beautiful Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. for the penultimate round of the GRAND-AM season. The two-hour, 45-minute Continental Tire Sports Car Festival is scheduled for September 9. The season will end at Lime Rock Park on September 29.