SCC: Laguna Seca: Round 6/round 3 preview

Rockenfeller, Long Look to Extend Daytona Prototype Points Lead in Road & Track 250 at Laguna Seca DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2006) -- On the heels of a full-time team sponsorship and a last lap pass for the win and points lead two weeks ago at...

Rockenfeller, Long Look to Extend Daytona Prototype Points Lead in Road & Track 250 at Laguna Seca

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2006) -- On the heels of a full-time team sponsorship and a last lap pass for the win and points lead two weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway, No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford co-drivers Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller head into this weekend's Road & Track 250 (LIVE on SPEED, Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. ET) carrying plenty of momentum into Round 6 of the 14-race 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, part of the U.S. Sports Car Invitational weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Rockenfeller charged from third to first on the final lap of the VIR 400 to clinch the second victory of the season for Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports--and the first for the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team in its maiden race--catapulting he and Long to the Daytona Prototype championship lead despite missing the season's second race in Mexico City.

Coupled with Rockenfeller's runner-up finish in the first-ever Daytona Prototype qualifying race, the No. 23 duo holds a five-point edge over Germany's Jorg Bergmeister in the current standings (164-159). Bergmeister and 17-year-old co-driver Colin Braun have logged top-10 finishes in each race they've shared the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley this season, but since Braun was forced to sit out the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami (Bergmeister finished eighth with Max Papis), Braun stands ninth in points with 136.

Defending Road & Track 250 race winners Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz were also victorious the last time the Rolex Series visited the Golden State, in the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach last month. In fact, the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing team for which Pruett and Diaz drive has won every Rolex Series race it has contested in the state of California, bringing a four-race California win streak to the Monterey Peninsula. That being the case, the duo must be considered one of the favorites this weekend in the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley. The tandem has posted two victories this season (the other coming in Diaz' native Mexico City) and are just 14 points behind Rockenfeller and Long in the standings.

The Road & Track 250 will be the second of five races in 2006 to feature points-paying qualifying races. The 30-minute sprints will take place on Saturday, with the 250-mile Road & Track 250 to take the green flag Sunday at 12:00 Noon PT.

Michael McDowell, the winner of the first-ever Daytona Prototype qualifying race at Virginia International Raceway, is just one point behind Pruett and Diaz in the championship, and will again co-drive the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford this weekend with Guy Cosmo, who replaced injured driver Memo Gidley at VIR and started from the pole position for the duo's fourth place finish.

No. 5 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs/Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford teammates Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay head to the west coast with confidence after posting their fourth-straight top-10 finish at VIR. Valiante led 18 laps in the VIR 400, but a late splash for fuel relegated the duo to a ninth-place finish.

A pair of teams seem to have shaken their early-season bugs and look to break through for the overall victory on Sunday. Defending Rolex Series champions Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor posted their best finish of the season with a second-place result in the VIR 400 in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. Angelelli led 12 of the final 13 laps at Virginia, but side-to-side contact with both Pruett and Rockenfeller in the waning moments of the race allowed Rockenfeller to sneak past for the win. The team will be joined this weekend by Danish hotshoe Jan Magnussen, who co-drove with Angelelli in Long Beach.

Howard-Boss Motorsports has also overcome early season disappointment to string together good finishes as of late. No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger look to log their fifth top-10 finish of the season--and fourth in a row-- on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course.

Many other Daytona Prototypes with a strong variety of manufacturer and chassis combinations will all be in contention for the win Sunday, including the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve Porsche Crawford of co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Eddie Cheever Jr.; David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Fabcar; the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley co-drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. for Michael Shank Racing; and brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle in the No. 8 GlycoMax Porsche Doran. All in all, a total of 29 Daytona Prototypes are entered for the Road & Track 250, the second-largest Daytona Prototype entry of the season. The season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona featured 31 Daytona Prototypes.

Team Cytosport is making its Rolex Series debut this weekend, with car owner Greg Pickett and multi-time IndyCar race winner--and 1996 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner--Scott Sharp sharing the driving duties in the No. 31 XCYTO Energy Drink Pontiac Riley.

Highlighting the variety in the Daytona Prototype category, there are 12 different engine and constructor combinations in the class. In addition to those mentioned above, there are nine Pontiac Rileys, including Brian Tuttle and Jonathan Cochet sharing the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley, the No. 11 CITGO Pontiac Riley with co-drivers Milka Duno and Marino Franchitti, the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley with Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld sharing the driving duties, the No. 40 Preformed Line Products/Coyote Closures Pontiac Riley with co-drivers Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman for Derhaag Motorsports, the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Casino Pontiac Riley with co-drivers Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel with Pacific Coast Motorsports, the No. 97 CyberSpeed Racing Pontiac Riley shared by Skip Cummins and Tony Ave, and the No. 99 GAINSCO Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-driven by Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney.

Mike Borkowski and newcomer Antoine Bessette bring the total of Lexus Rileys in the field to three as they will share the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing/Mears Motor Coach machine. Paul Gentilozzi and Tomy Drissi will make it three Ford Crawfords in the field with their No. 50 X-MEN 3 The Last Stand the Movie Daytona Prototype for Rocketsports Racing. Brumos Racing will bring a second Porsche Fabcar to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as Hurley Haywood and JC France will share the No. 59 Brumos Porsche machine. Doug Goad and Larry Oberto will once again share the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford, while Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn will be in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Riley. The entry list also features two BMW Rileys, the No. 3 Southard Motorsports BMW Riley with Shane Lewis as the only listed driver, and the No. 0 Tuttle Team Racing BMW Riley, which may be driven by Cochet and Tuttle.

Tim Hubman and Shawn Bayliff will share the No. 33 Great Eastern Securities/M-L Lifestyle BMW Picchio, 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller and Harrison Brix will co-drive the No. 77 Kodak/Amp'd Mobile/Sirius Ford Doran with co-drivers Terry Borcheller and Harrison Brix, and Rob and Charles Morgan are slated for the No. 47 Querencia Golf Club/TruSpeed Motorcars/Wright Motorsports Porsche Riley.

In the GT class, three machines have somewhat distanced themselves from the rest of the pack with consistently strong finishes throughout the season.

TRG's double-barreled Pontiac GTO.R assault has won three times in 2006, with No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards victorious in Mexico City and Homestead-Miami and No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R teammates Andy Lally and Marc Bunting claiming the class victory in the VIR 400. Bunting and Lally sit atop the GT driver standings with 151 points, 11 better than Collins and Edwards, who are tied for fifth.

Sandwiched between the TRG drivers in the standings are Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell in the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3. The duo hasn't finished lower than sixth all season, and Henzler was victorious in the VIR 400 qualifying race--moving the teammates to the top of the championship standings--but a fourth place class run in the feature event left each driver with 146 points, five behind Lally and Bunting.

Steve Johnson and Robert Nearn--co-drivers of the No. 81 Comfort Systems USA/Johnson Commercial Development Porsche GT3--are tied for seventh in the points standings with 107 points, and the duo has posted top-10 finishes in three of the four events this season. Nearn finished ninth in the VIR 400 qualifying race.

The 19 GT machines coupled with the 29 Daytona Prototypes brings the total car count to 48 for the weekend, and the green flag will drop on the Road & Track 250 at 12:00 p.m. PT.

Round 3 of the 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series is also part of the U.S. Sports Car Invitational weekend, with 44 Grand Sport (GS) cars and 32 Street Tuner (ST) machines entered to take to the track Saturday, May 6 at 2:45 p.m. PT. James Gue is the overall points leader following a fourth-place class finish at Daytona and a runner-up finish at VIR two weeks ago. Following their ST class win at Virginia, Eric Curran and Jamie Holtom sit atop the class standings. The duo will share the No. 01 Clearscada/GM Performance Division Chevrolet Cobalt this weekend.

SPEED will provide live coverage of Sunday's Road & Track 250 on May 7 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET, while the Grand-Am Cup Series race will air on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. ET on May 13. Live Timing & Scoring data and audio webcasts in English and Spanish will be provided on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

-garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Wright Motorsports , Alex Job Racing , Michael Shank Racing