Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Combatants Ready for Another Battle in Miami 250 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2004) -- Returning to the site of one of the most exciting races of the 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, teams...
Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Combatants Ready for Another Battle in Miami 250
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2004) -- Returning to the site of one of the most exciting races of the 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, teams and drivers are geared up and ready for another battle this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Miami 250 (SPEED Channel, Live, 11 a.m. ET).
After a one-week delay due to the affects of one hurricane and the threat of another, it's full steam ahead as the competitors look to top February's thrilling Grand Prix of Miami. In the closing stages of that event, Max Papis in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley battled door-to-door with Jan Magnussen in the No. 27 Doran-Lista Racing Lexus Doran through the oval portion of the track before both cars slid off-course entering Turn 1.
The dustup allowed the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace and Milka Duno to take the Grand Prix of Miami triumph. In the process, Duno became the first woman to claim an overall race victory in a major North American sports car race and Wallace claimed his fourth career Rolex Series overall win and his first win in a Daytona Prototype.
By virtue of their performances in February alone, all three of the aforementioned race cars rate among the favorites to win the Miami 250. However, more recent events make all three teams even more formidable heading into this weekend.
Since the "near miss" at Homestead, Papis--a resident of nearby Miami Beach--and co-driver Scott Pruett have rattled off three overall victories (6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, and the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic), two second-place finishes and a fifth place showing in the No. 01. The run of success has vaulted the Ganassi duo to the top of the Daytona Prototype driver standings heading into the final quarter of the season, and--as has been the case throughout the season--Papis and Pruett clearly rate among the favorites this weekend.
In the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen in August, Magnussen and co-driver Didier Theys brought the No. 27 team its first-ever Daytona Prototype victory and its ninth overall triumph in Rolex Sports Car Series competition. Theys and Magnussen also became the fifth different overall winners this year, establishing a new Rolex Series record for most different overall winners in a single season, and Theys moved into fifth in the Daytona Prototype driver standings. The No. 27 team remains one to watch this weekend as well.
While they haven't won since the Grand Prix of Miami, Wallace and Duno also rate among the favorites heading into the Miami 250. Wallace has finished inside the top-eight positions in each of his past five starts, including a second-place showing at Mid-Ohio and a third place performance co-driving with NASCAR star Tony Stewart in July's Paul Revere 250 presented by Brumos Porsche at Daytona International Speedway. Wallace's results have propelled him into fourth in the Daytona Prototype driver standings. Likewise, Duno has four top-seven results in her past five starts--topped by the second-place run at Mid-Ohio--and is currently tied for sixth in points alongside No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli.
Angelelli and his No. 10 co-driver Wayne Taylor must also be considered among the favorites to take the Miami 250. Since finishing fifth in the Grand Prix of Miami, Taylor and Angelelli have earned a pair of victories (in the Food City 250 at Phoenix and the Paul Revere 250), and have finished on the podium in four of their last six starts. Owing to the fact that Angelelli missed the Mid-Ohio race, Taylor ranks as Papis and Pruett's closest challenger in the points chase, 19 points in arrears (244-225).
Also not to be overlooked this weekend are the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran, the No. 02 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, the No. 81 Rx.com/G&W Motorsports BMW Doran and the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran.
After opening the season with an overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller has endured his share of tough sledding and currently finds himself ninth in the points chase. However, Borcheller will share the No. 54 with Key Biscayne resident Christian Fittipaldi--who was one of the drivers on this year's Rolex 24-winning team--for the final four events of the season beginning this weekend, as both drivers look for a strong finish.
No. 02 pilot Jimmy Morales is one point ahead of Borcheller in the driver standings, and he and co-driver Luis Diaz--who led the Grand Prix Miami for a time--return to Miami looking to finish the job and get their first win of the season. No. 81 driver Cort Wagner--who stands 10th in the point standings--picked up his best result of the season with a second-place showing in the Grand Prix of Miami and is hopeful of returning to the podium this weekend with co-driver Brent Martini.
Meanwhile, the No. 6 pairing of Burt Frisselle and Aventura, Florida's Oswaldo Negri Jr. returns to Miami off a career-best result of second in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen and the good memories of a third place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February.
Further bolstering the Daytona Prototype field will be the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson; the No. 7 Southard Motorsports BMW Fabcar driven by Jupiter, Florida resident Shane Lewis; the No. 9 Mears Motorcoach/SpeedSource Pontiac Riley of Mike Borkowski and Orlando's Paul Mears Jr.; the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford of Doug Goad and Stephan Gregoire; the No. 39 Spark of Georgia Tech Pontiac Crawford shared by Port Orange, Florida's Chris Hall and Ponte Vedra's Larry Huang; and the two-car Brumos Racing assault, with Darren Law and David Donohue piloting the Jacskonville-based team's No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar and Ponte Vedra, Florida's Hurley Haywood sharing the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar with Daytona Beach's JC France.
Since the Grand Prix of Miami in February, the Prototype Technology Group BMW M3s have been unstoppable in the GT category. No. 21 driver Bill Auberlen started a six-race win streak in the Grand Prix of Miami, sharing the car for the first four races of the streak with Boris Said before being joined by rookie Justin Marks for his last two wins. Auberlen leads the GT driver standings as a result.
However, a victory by Said and co-driver Joey Hand in the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen snapped the streak for the No. 21. Said is now just four points in arrears of his former co-driver heading into the Miami 250, and it seems likely that the PTG teammates will battle it out over the final races to decide the championship. The No. 66 The Racer's Group Porsche GT3 RS driving trio of Chris Gleason, RJ Valentine and Ian James round out the top five in the point standings, and have finished inside the top-four class positions in each of their past six starts. They head into the Miami 250 still looking for their first class win of the season.
Though they have just one class victory this season, No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally have a firm grasp on the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class points race. Bunting and Lally haven't failed to finish on the class podium in 2004, a run that was highlighted by a class win in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June. Bunting and Lally would love to add a few more first place trophies to their case before the season is over.
While Bunting and Lally hold the points lead through consistency, their teammates in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche, Michael Levitas and Randy Pobst, share the SGS win lead with No. 41 ORISON-Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup driver Wayne Nonnamaker. The No. 38 co-drivers and Nonnamaker each have two class wins this season, with a third TPC Racing car, the No.37 Porsche GT3 Cup of John Littlechild and Spencer Pumpelly winning the Sahlen's 200 at The Glen last month. Any of the aforementioned drivers rate among the favorites for the SGS win this weekend.
The weekend's schedule--which was shortened to two days by Grand American officials--will also include Round 7 of the 10-race 2004 Grand-Am Cup Series, ¡El Combate de Velocidad! on Saturday, September 18. Grand Sport (GS) points leader Craig Stanton and Sport Touring (ST) leaders Will Turner and Don Salama headline a field of more than 50 cars in Saturday's race.
Because of the shortened schedule, neither the Grand-Am Cup nor the Rolex Series will have qualifying sessions and both grids will be set based on championship points. As a result, Saturday's schedule will see the Grand-Am Cup cars on-track for practice beginning at 8:40 a.m. ET for a 35-minute practice session, followed by a Rolex Series GT and SGS class practice session from 9:25 to 9:50 a.m. All Rolex Series cars will then practice from 9:50 to 10:35 a.m. before a 25-minute session for Daytona Prototypes only from 10:35 to 11:00 a.m. The Grand-Am Cup cars will get their final pre-race tune-up with a 45-minute practice session from 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 Noon.
The Rolex Series returns to the track at 1:00 p.m. for another hour-and-15-minute practice session, and Saturday's activities conclude with the Grand-Am Cup Series ¡El Combate de Velocidad! beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 250 miles (109 laps), but is subject to a three-hour time limit and will air on SPEED Channel on a same-day delay beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET.
On Sunday, the Rolex Series will have a final practice session from 9:00 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. ET in advance of the Miami 250, which is slated to take the green flag at 11:00 a.m. The scheduled distance is 250 miles (109 laps), subject to a two-hour-and-45-minute time limit, and the race will air live on SPEED Channel. Live Timing & Scoring data from Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup session is also available via Zippo Live Timing on www.grandamerican.com.
TICKET INFORMATION Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP or by visiting www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.