SCC: Laguna Seca: Inaugural race preview

Wide Open Rolex Series Field Heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Inaugural Visit DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2005) -- One of the deepest fields in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series history is ready for action as a record 24 Daytona ...

Wide Open Rolex Series Field Heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Inaugural Visit

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2005) -- One of the deepest fields in Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series history is ready for action as a record 24 Daytona Prototypes and 30 GT cars are set to converge on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the inaugural Road & Track 250 on Sunday, May 1 (SPEED Channel, Live, 3 p.m. ET).

In sheer numbers, the Rolex Series field will be the largest in series history for a sprint race--a race that is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit--but if the first three races of the 14-race 2005 season are any indication, it will also be one of the most competitive. Through the Ferrari Maserati 400 earlier this month at California Speedway, 24 different drivers--many for the first time in their career--have held an overall race lead at one point or another.

In addition, the Ferrari Maserati 400 featured the closest finish in Rolex Series history, with defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley holding off current Daytona Prototype co-points leader Max Angelelli's No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley by a mere 96-hundredths of a second to score his first victory of the season. In the Grand Prix of Miami one race earlier, Angelelli beat Butch Leitzinger in the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for the win by just 1.198 seconds in what was then the second-closest finish in series history.

As the series prepares to visit the breathtaking 2.238-mile permanent road course on the Monterey Peninsula for the first time, it appears the table is set for yet another thrilling race. Leading the Daytona Prototype point standings by 17 points over Pruett and Luis Diaz (102-85) are Angelelli and co-driver/car owner Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 machine. The SunTrust duo owns podium finishes from all three of its 2005 events, and will be obvious contenders for the victory again on Sunday.

Likewise, with a victory now under their belts, Pruett and his No. 01 co-driver Diaz--who celebrated his first-ever Rolex Series triumph at California Speedway--will also be reckoned with this weekend. As is the case with many other drivers in the field, both Pruett and Diaz have considerable experience at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in other types of cars, so it stands to reason that they ought to find the quickest way around in their Daytona Prototype early in the weekend.

The two-car Howard-Boss Motorsports team is another one to watch. Andy Wallace and his No. 2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford co-driver Milka Duno have shown their ability to win in the past, and remain a threat for victory lane. After back-to-back second-place finishes to open the 2005 campaign, Leitzinger and co-driver Elliott Forbes-Robinson finished outside the top-10 in Southern California and head to Monterey looking for revenge.

Certainly not to be overlooked is the two-car assault from the first-year Krohn Racing/TRG operation. Max Papis--who won a Champ Car race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2001--returns to the team this weekend and will share the No. 66 Pontiac Riley with Germany's Jorg Bergmeister. In the team's sister No. 67 Pontiac Riley are Nic Jonsson and team co-owner/driver Tracy Krohn, who enter the weekend on the strength of back-to-back top-five results.

While their teammates in the No. 01 machine have already celebrated their first win of the 2005 season, No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner have been plenty fast throughout the early portion of the season as well and are poised for a breakthrough victory sooner rather than later. Likewise, Italian newcomers Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi have each qualified their Doran Racing No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Lexus Doran second in each of the past two races, and look to convert that qualifying speed into race results in their first visits to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

After flexing their muscles throughout the race in Fontana, a trio of BMW-powered Daytona Prototypes appears to be primed for a breakthrough victory. Shane Lewis led the first laps of his Rolex Series career aboard the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley for Southard Motorsports, and joins co-driver Darius Grala again this weekend looking for victory. The No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran driving duo of Burt and Brian Frisselle also bear watching, as their car has led each of the past two Rolex Series races. No car led more laps at California Speedway than Finlay Motorsports' No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley, and with local favorite Memo Gidley returning to share the machine with Michael McDowell, this is another team that will get plenty of attention.

After a third-place run at California Speedway, Mike Borkowski will be joined for the weekend by Canadian Kenny Wilden in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley for Michael Shank Racing, as regular co-driver Paul Mears Jr. is out due to previous commitments. The team has doubled its chances as it debuts the No. 60 Matlin/Patterson Lexus Riley for Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. in Monterey.

Two other Daytona Prototypes are slated to make their first appearances of the 2005 season this weekend. The father and son team of Charles and Rob Morgan has signed-on to share the No. 31 Querencia Golf Club/Los Cabos Pontiac Riley for Margraf Racing, while Alex Gurney--the son of the legendary Dan Gurney--makes his first Daytona Prototype appearance alongside co-driver Bob Stallings in the debuting No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley.

The field includes three more proven Daytona Prototype race winners with a two-car effort from Brumos Racing and the Bell Motorsports entry. David Donohue and Darren Law--who took his first career Rolex Series pole position two races ago in Miami--are set to co-drive Brumos Racing's No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar alongside their teammates in the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar, JC France and sports car legend Hurley Haywood. Entered in the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Pontiac Doran for Bell Motorsports is the inaugural Daytona Prototype champion, Terry Borcheller, car owner Forest Barber and German Ralf Kelleners.

Others to watch in the Daytona Prototype field are Joe and Justin Pruskowski in the No. 5 Speed Secrets Ford Crawford for Essex Racing, Rick Skelton and Joe Foster in Hyper Sport's No. 9 Bon Secour Village Infiniti Doran, Doug Goad and Stephan Gregoire in the No. 09 Hawaiian Tropic/Spiralz Custom Jewelry Pontiac Crawford for Spirit of Daytona Racing, Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette in the CB Motorsports No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software Lexus Riley, Dominic Cicero II, Chad McQueen and John Bender in the No. 25 Yourself! Fitness Ford Crawford for Westernesse Racing and the No. 39 Orbit Racing Pontiac Riley of Jim Matthews and Guy Smith.

Just as the 24 Daytona Prototypes represent the largest field for the class since the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the GT field for the Road & Track 250 includes 30 strong, production-based racers and a world-class driver lineup.

Leading the way are GT co-points leaders Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the No. 65 Auto Gallery/TRG Porsche GT3 Cup in somewhat of a "hometown" race for the Sonoma-based team. Lally and Bunting scored their first GT win two races ago, and a second-place run at California Speedway has bolstered their position atop the point standings. Joining Bunting and Lally on the Auto Gallery/TRG squad are co-drivers Dave Master and Dan Pastorini in the No. 63 Porsche GT3 Cup, Steve Johnson, Robert Nearn and team owner Kevin Buckler are entered in the No. 88 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup and Canadians Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins are set to drive the No. 61 Porsche GT3 Cup for the satellite TRG East/Doncaster Racing team.

After a rough start to the 2005 season, a class victory in the Ferrari Maserati 400 for defending GT driver champion Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services BMW M3 has seemingly gotten the year back on the rails for the GT champion BMW Team PTG operation. The team will bring a four-car attack to Monterey, as Chris Gleason and Ian James will share the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3, Justin Marks and Tom Milner are slated for the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 and Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine will co-drive the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3 alongside the No. 21 of Auberlen and Hand.

Other favorites for the GT victory include the four-car TPC Racing operation, led by team owner Michael Levitas, who co-drives the No. 36 Ajilon Consulting/TPC Superchargers Porsche GT3 Cup with Randy Pobst; a pair of strong Porsches from Synergy Racing for drivers David Murry, Craig Stanton and Mae Van Wijk and the No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Jim Tafel and Andrew Davis.

In addition to the Road & Track 250, the U.S. Sports Car Invitational will feature a 200-mile race for the Grand-Am Cup Series on Saturday, April 30. After class victories at California Speedway earlier this month, No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang co-drivers James Gue and Gunnar Jeannette lead the Grand Sport (GS) class point standings, while David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay head the Sport Touring (ST) class field in their No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.

The weekend schedule calls for the Rolex Series GT machines to make their first appearance on the central California road course at 10:00 a.m. PT on Friday, April 29 for a 30-minute practice session. The GT cars will be joined on-track by their Daytona Prototype brethren from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., before a Daytona Prototype-only session from 11:15 to 11:55 a.m. Both Rolex Series classes return to the track for another practice session from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., followed by the first Grand-Am Cup Series practice of the weekend from 3:30 to 4:25 p.m.

On Saturday, April 30, the Grand-Am Cup Series takes to the track at 8:40 a.m. for a 45-minute session, followed by Rolex Series practice from 9:35 to 10:35 a.m. At 11:25 a.m., the Grand-Am Cup ST machines take the green flag for their 15-minute qualifying session, followed by GS class qualifying from 11:45 a.m. to 12:00 Noon. After a one-hour break, the Rolex Series GT competitors will have 15 minutes to establish their starting positions beginning at 1:00 p.m., followed by Daytona Prototype qualifying from 1:20 to 1:35 p.m. Saturday's activities draw to a close with the Grand-Am Cup 200 beginning at 2:45 p.m. The race's scheduled distance is 200 miles (90 laps) and is subject to a two-and-a-half hour time limit.

Sunday's race day schedule will see the Rolex Series machines on-track for their final practice session from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m., and Round 4 of the 14-race 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series, the Road & Track 250, is slated to take the green flag at 12:00 p.m. The scheduled distance is 250 miles (112 laps), but the race is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.

SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of the Road & Track 250 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. The Grand-Am Cup 200 from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air on a tape delay beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 14.

Live Timing & Scoring data is available for all Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup Series on-track activities via the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com. The site also offers live audio webcasts in both English and Spanish for Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup races.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets and information are available by calling 1-800-327-SECA or logging on to www.laguna-seca.com or Ticketmaster.com.

Advance ticket prices: $10 Fri., $20 Sat., $25 Sun., $35 Sat./Sun., $45 for a 3-day ticket. Gate prices are an additional $10. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult ticket.

All tickets include admission, paddock, and grandstand access.

U.S. Sports Car Invitational Weekend Fast Facts

WHO: Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series

WHAT: U.S. Sports Car Invitational Weekend

Rolex Sports Car Series -- Road & Track 250 (Round 4 of 14)

Grand-Am Cup Series -- Grand-Am Cup 200 (GS Round 4 of 11/ST Round 3 of 10)

WHERE: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Monterey, Calif. (2.238-mile, 11-turns)

WHEN: Friday, April 29 -- Sunday, May 1

Rolex Series Road & Track 250 -- Sunday, May 1, 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET)

Grand-Am Cup Series Grand-Am Cup 200 -- Saturday, April 30, 2:45 p.m. PT (5:45 p.m. ET)

LENGTH:

Rolex Series Road & Track 250 -- 250-miles/112-laps/2¾ hour time limit

Grand-Am Cup 200 -- 200-miles/90-laps/2½ hour time limit

TV:

Rolex Series Road & Track 250 -- SPEED Channel (Live)
May 1, 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET)

Grand-Am Cup 200 -- SPEED Channel (Tape)
May 14, 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET)

<pre> WEEKEND EVENT SCHEDULE

Friday, April 29 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Practice -- Formula BMW 9:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m. Practice -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series GT 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series (combined) 11:15 a.m.-11:55 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 12:55 p.m.-1:25 p.m. Qualifying -- Formula BMW 1:35 p.m.-2:05 p.m. Practice -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 3:30 p.m.-4:25 p.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 4:35 p.m.-4:55 p.m. Qualifying race 1 -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup

Saturday, April 30 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m. Qualifying -- Formula BMW 8:40 a.m.-9:25 a.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 9:35 a.m.-10:35 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 10:45 a.m.-11:15 p.m. Race 1 -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Driver autograph session 11:25 a.m.-11:40 a.m. Qualifying -- Grand-Am Cup Series ST 11:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Qualifying -- Grand-Am Cup Series GS 1:00 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT 1:20 p.m.-1:35 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. Race 1 -- Formula BMW (30-minutes) 2:45 p.m. START Grand-Am Cup 200 (200-miles/90-laps/2 ½-hour time limit)

Sunday, May 1 9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m. Qualifying Race 2 -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup 9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Final practice -- Rolex Series 10:10 a.m.-10:25 a.m. Warm up -- Formula BMW 12:00 p.m. START Rolex Series Road & Track 250 (250-miles/112-laps/2 ¾-hour time limit) 2:55 p.m.3:25 p.m. Race 2 -- MazdaSpeed Miata Cup 3:35 p.m.4:05 p.m. Race 2 -- Formula BMW (30-minutes)

*All Times Subject To Change

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Doran Racing , Multimatic Motorsports , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing