SCC: Mid-Ohio: Round seven preview

Championship Battles Heat Up As 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series Season Enters Second Half at Mid-Ohio DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 2, 2004) -- After a 37-day "halftime" period, the rested and ready teams of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car...

Championship Battles Heat Up As 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series Season Enters Second Half at Mid-Ohio

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 2, 2004) -- After a 37-day "halftime" period, the rested and ready teams of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series are prepared for a six-race battle to decide the 2004 class championships beginning with this Saturday's EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic (SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET).

In the Daytona Prototype category, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis began picking up steam with a second place showing in Round 3 at Phoenix, became something of a runaway train with back-to-back wins in six-hour races at Mont-Tremblant and Watkins Glen, and did what they had to do to retain their points lead with a second place run in the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona presented by Brumos Porsche last month. As a result, the duo holds an 11-point advantage (183-172) over No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley co-pilots Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli heading into Mid-Ohio.

Neither Papis nor Pruett are ones to rest on their laurels, but the double-digit cushion puts them in the somewhat luxurious position of being able to settle for a top-five or top-10 result, rather than trying to win at all costs. However, those chasing the No. 01 must begin pulling out the stops if they are to realize their championship dreams.

The No. 10 team has already done that as evidenced by its two first-half victories (at Phoenix and the Paul Revere 250) and its second place position in the championship. While Angelelli's title hopes will be dealt a severe blow due to other commitments that will keep him out of the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic, Taylor stands to become a lone Daytona Prototype champion if the No. 10 continues to display the same form it showed at Daytona last month. The South African will be joined by French hotshoe Emanuel Collard this weekend.

Standing 19 points out of the Daytona Prototype points lead is No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford driver Andy Wallace following his third podium finish of the season in the Paul Revere 250. Wallace's No. 2 co-driver, Milka Duno, is sixth in the championship, 13 points behind Wallace and 32 out of the lead, but could break into the top five this weekend in Angelelli's absence. Wallace and Duno would love nothing more than to kick off the second half of the season with their second victory of 2004.

Defending race and series champion Terry Borcheller of the No. 54 Kodak-Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran team and Cort Wagner of the No. 81 Rx.com/G&W Motorsports BMW Doran are deadlocked in seventh with 148 points apiece, and both are motivated to drive their Ohio-built Doran chassis to victory again at Mid-Ohio along with their co-drivers Forest Barber (No. 54) and Brent Martini (No. 81). Likewise, Didier Theys--who stands ninth in points--and co-pilot Ben Leuenberger will be looking to give the Lebanon, Ohio-based Doran-Lista Racing and the No. 27 Lexus Doran its first victory of the season at its "home" track.

Among others still looking for their first victory are No. 02 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley teammates Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz, and Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Burt Frisselle, who share the controls of the No. 6 Lexus Doran for the Reynoldsburg, Ohio-domiciled Michael Shank Racing squad. Both cars have shown the speed to run up front on more than one occasion in 2004, as has the No. 9 Mears Motorcoach/SpeedSource Pontiac Riley co-driven by Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr.

Others to watch include the two Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcars with David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Red Bull machine and JC France and sports car legend Hurley Haywood in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche, the No. 7 BMW Fabcar co-driven by Vic Rice and Shane Lewis for Powell, Ohio's Southard Motorsports, the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford of Stephan Gregoire and Doug Goad and the No. 39 The Spark of Georgia Tech Pontiac Crawford of Larry Huang and Chris Hall.

The title chase in the GT category got a bit more interesting at the Paul Revere 250 last month, as former co-drivers Boris Said and Bill Auberlen split up, with Auberlen remaining in the No. 21 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 with new co-driver Justin Marks and Said moving to the No. 22 PTG BMW M3 alongside Joey Hand. With his fifth straight class victory, Auberlen moved into a tie for the GT points lead with Said, who finished second.

The PTG teammates are deadlocked at 186 points apiece and hold a sizable, 19-point lead over the No. 66 The Racer's Group Porsche GT3 RS trio of Chris Gleason, Ian James and RJ Valentine. 2003 GT champion Mike Fitzgerald--who drives the No. 44 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS along with Jay and Joe Policastro--stands fifth in GT points, just two in arrears of the No. 66 teammates.

One other item of interest with regard to the GT class is a rule change affecting teams using the Porsche GT3 RS. The car's minimum weight has been reduced 125 pounds, from a minimum of 2,625 pounds to 2,500, and it will be interesting to see what effect that may have on the GT race this weekend.

Also in action this weekend will be the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class, where No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally hold a 17-point (191-174) lead over their teammates, Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas in the similar No. 36 Porsche. Bunting and Lally have parlayed class podium finishes in all six races to date into the SGS points lead. Another TPC Racing driver, John Littlechild--who shares the No. 37 Porsche GT3 Cup with Bill Adam--stands fifth in the SGS points race.

While the Rolex Sports Car Series wraps up its activities on Saturday, many of the same drivers will also be in action on Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as the Grand-Am Cup Series takes center stage. With four wins from five starts, No. 44 TheRaceSite.com Racing Porsche 996 driver Craig Stanton leads the Grand Sport (GS) driver standings heading into the second half of the Grand-Am Cup season, and No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i co-drivers Will Turner and Don Salama share the Sport Touring (ST) class lead. Sunday's race will feature more than 60 showroom stock sports cars.

Rolex Sports Car Series action at Mid-Ohio gets underway at 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, when the GT and SGS classes take to the track for a 30-minute practice session. From 10:00-11:00 a.m., the Daytona Prototype machines will join the GT and SGS cars before having their own session from 11:00-11:30 a.m. The Grand-Am Cup Series sees its first activity at 1 p.m. on Friday in an hour long practice session, followed by another Rolex Series practice from 2:10-2:55 p.m. After a 40-minute Grand-Am Cup practice takes the checkered flag at 4:20 p.m., the focus switches to Rolex Series qualifying. From 4:30-4:45 p.m. the GT and SGS cars battle it out for starting positions, followed by a 15-minute Daytona Prototype qualifying session from 4:55-5:10 p.m.

Saturday will see the Grand-Am Cup cars practice from 9:00-10:00 a.m. with the final Rolex Series practice session slated for 10:50-11:30 a.m. The Grand-Am Cup Series conducts its final practice session prior to qualifying from 1:00-1:45 p.m., followed by ST qualifying from 3:45-4:00 p.m. and GS qualifying from 4:10-4:45 p.m. Saturday's schedule concludes with Round 7 of the 12-race 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series, the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic, which takes the green flag at 5:30 p.m. The race's scheduled distance is 111 laps (250 miles) but is subject to a two-hour-and-45-minute time limit.

On Sunday, the Grand-Am Cup Series holds its final practice session from 9:30-10:00 a.m., with Round 6 of the 10-race 2004 Grand-Am Cup Series, the Mid-Ohio 250 taking the green flag at 1 p.m. The Mid-Ohio 250 is also scheduled for 111 laps (250 miles), and is subject to a three-hour time limit.

SPEED Channel will provide same-day tape-delayed television coverage of the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 7, and will offer tape-delayed coverage of the Mid-Ohio 250 Grand-Am Cup race at 12 Noon ET on Sunday, August 15. Live Timing & Scoring data for every session is available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic Weekend Fast Facts

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

WHAT: Rolex Series -- EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic (Round 7 of 12)
Grand-Am Cup Series -- Grand-Am Cup 250 (Round 6 of 10)

WHERE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; Lexington, Ohio (2.258-mile, 13-turn road course)

WHEN: Friday - Sunday, August 6-8, 2004

LENGTH: EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic: 250-miles/111-laps/2 ¾ -- hour time limit
Grand-Am Cup 250: 250-miles/111-laps/3-hour time limit

<pre> WEEKEND EVENT SCHEDULE Friday, August 6th 8:00 a.m. -- 8:20 a.m. Practice -- BMW CCA 8:30 a.m. -- 8:50 a.m. Practice -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 9:00 a.m. -- 9:20 a.m. Practice -- Formula Renault 2000 9:30 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series GT, SGS 10:00 a.m. -- 11:00 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 11:00 a.m. -- 11:30 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 11:30 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m. Qualifying -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 1:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 2:10 p.m. -- 2:55 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 3:05 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Practice -- BMW CCA 3:40 p.m. -- 4:20 p.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 4:30 p.m. -- 4:45 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT, SGS 4:55 p.m. -- 5:10 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes 5:20 p.m. -- 5:40 p.m. Practice -- Formula Renault 2000

Saturday, August 7th 8:00 a.m. -- 8:20 a.m. Qualifying -- BMW CCA 8:30 a.m. -- 8:50 a.m. Qualifying -- Formula Renault 2000 9:00 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 10:10 a.m. -- 10:40 a.m. Qualifying -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 10:50 a.m. -- 11:30 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 11:45 a.m. -- 12:15 p.m. Race -- BMW CCA 12:00 p.m. -- 1:00 p.m. Driver autograph session 1:00 p.m. -- 1:45 p.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup Series 2:00 p.m. -- 2:30 p.m. Qualifying -- Formula Renault 2000 2:45 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Race -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 3:45 p.m. -- 4:00 p.m. Qualifying -- Grand-Am Cup Series ST 4:10 p.m. -- 4:25 p.m. Qualifying -- Grand-Am Cup Series GS 5:30 p.m. START -- EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic (250-miles/111-laps/2.75-hour time limit)

Sunday, August 9th 8:00 a.m. -- 8:20 a.m. Practice -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 8:30 a.m. -- 8:50 a.m. Qualifying -- BMW CCA 9:00 a.m. -- 9:20 a.m. Practice -- Formula Renault 2000 9:30 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m. Practice -- Grand-Am Cup 10:15 a.m. -- 11:00 a.m. Race -- Formula Ford ZETEC 2000 11:15 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m. Race -- Formula Renault 2000 1:00 p.m. START -- Grand-Am Cup 250 (250-miles/111-laps/3-hour time limit) 4:30 p.m. -- 5:00 p.m. Race- BMW CCA

TICKET INFORMATION Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or by visiting www.midohio.com.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Milka Duno , Shane Lewis , Chris Hall , Boris Said , Didier Theys , Stephan Gregoire , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Randy Pobst , Luis Diaz , Ian James , Doug Goad , Terry Borcheller , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , JC France , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Will Turner , Burt Frisselle , Chris Gleason , Michael Levitas , Don Salama , Jimmy Morales , Mike Borkowski , Craig Stanton , Brent Martini , Paul Mears Jr. , Larry Huang , John Littlechild , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Vic Rice , Chip Ganassi , Michael Shank , Cort Wagner , Bill Adam
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , SpeedSource