SunTrust Duo Looks to Tighten Grasp on Daytona Prototype Title at VIR 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2005) -- At the conclusion of this weekend's penultimate round of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, No. 10 SunTrust...
SunTrust Duo Looks to Tighten Grasp on Daytona Prototype Title at VIR 400
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2005) -- At the conclusion of this weekend's penultimate round of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor could wrap-up the 2005 Daytona Prototype team championship with a strong performance in Sunday's VIR 400 (SPEED Channel, Live, 1:00 p.m. ET).
Angelelli and Taylor currently lead the Daytona Prototype driver standings by 39 points (379-340) over defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett and his No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-driver Luis Diaz. The No. 10 team also leads the No. 01 team by the same margin in the team championship standings.
If Taylor and Angelelli leave Virginia International Raceway with a lead of more than 35 points, they will clinch the team championship for the SunTrust operation and will also be the only drivers eligible to win the Daytona Prototype driver championship. However, in order to share the prestigious driver title, both drivers will need to drive under green flag conditions in the season finale at Mexico City on November 5.
Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger, who co-drive the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports, also remain in contention for the Daytona Prototype title heading into the VIR 400, although they are currently 62 points in arrears of Taylor and Angelelli. Nevertheless, look for all three teams to pull out all the stops at VIR to stay in the title chase heading to Mexico.
Having already won a Rolex Series-leading five times this season, the SunTrust duo is riding a hot streak into VIR. In addition to their victories, Angelelli and Taylor have finished on the podium in each of their past six starts. They also have fond memories of their last visit to VIR, as the No. 10 co-drivers claimed a victory at the historic, 3.27-mile circuit in dramatic fashion last October.
In what was then the closest finish in Rolex Series history, Angelelli held off Pruett by a scant 0.87 seconds to earn their third win of the 2004 campaign. That record has since been surpassed on three occasions, with Pruett and Diaz now holding the record with their 0.096-second triumph over Angelelli and Taylor in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway in April.
The California victory was the first of two Rolex Series triumphs for the CompUSA teammates in 2005, and a third victory this weekend would certainly help them stay alive in the championship battle. Both Pruett and Diaz have had success at VIR as well, as Pruett finished second last year alongside then-co-driver Max Papis while Diaz finished fifth alongside his Mexican countryman, Jimmy Morales, in 2004.
Likewise, Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger have enjoyed success in what could be considered a "hometown race" for their North Carolina-based team. Leitzinger and EFR finished fourth in the 2004 rendition of the VIR 400, which was Leitzinger's first-ever Rolex Series appearance at the venue. Forbes-Robinson also finished third in the SRPII class at VIR in 2003. A victory in the VIR 400 would be the third of the season for the No. 4 teammates, as they also scored triumphs in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway in June and the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August.
Last year, Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger crossed the stripe just behind their No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford teammates, Andy Wallace and Milka Duno. The No. 2 teammates return this weekend looking for a repeat of their podium performance from a year ago, and would love to claim their second victory of the season after taking the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant in May.
Krohn Racing/TRG will bring a pair of 2005 race-winning cars to VIR, as Papis will share the team's No. 66 Pontiac Riley with Jorg Bergmeister--who co-drove to victory in the Racetickets.com 250 at Phoenix International Raceway with Christian Fittipaldi--and Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen winners Nic Jonsson and Tracy Krohn will co-drive the No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley.
The six different overall winners in 2005 ties the Rolex Series record for most different winners in a single season established last year. However, there is plenty of driving talent on the 25-car Daytona Prototype entry list that could break the record this weekend.
On the heels of a podium finish in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen two weeks ago, No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley co-drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. cannot be ignored. Likewise, their Michael Shank Racing teammates, Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley have also run up front and are hungry for a victory as well.
No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney have been extremely competitive throughout their first Rolex Series season in 2005, and must be considered among potential victory candidates. Ditto for Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell in the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley with Finlay Motorsports, as the No. 19 machine has finished outside the top six in just one of its past eight outings.
Italians Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin have been plenty fast throughout the season in the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran they co-drive for Doran Racing, and the duo could claim its first-ever Rolex Series win this weekend. Following a fourth-place outing in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen, the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software/Key Bank/McDonald Financial Group duo of Hugo Guenette and 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller also pack a formidable punch for CB Motorsports.
Also not to be overlooked are No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley co-drivers Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner, who have finished inside the top seven in nine of their 12 starts this season for Chip Ganassi Racing. After a competitive performance for much of the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen, one must also not rule No. 8 Rx.com BMW Doran co-drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle, who are driving for the VIR-based Synergy Racing.
The VIR 400 will see the return of four cars that have been out of Rolex Series action, as well as the addition of a new Daytona Prototype team. Sharing the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford will be 17-year-old co-drivers Colin Braun and Brad Coleman, with Bob Ward and a to-be-determined co-driver sharing the No. 07 Waste Services Inc. Pontiac Crawford for Spirit of Daytona Racing.
Johnny Miller and Zach Arnold will team-up in the No. 18 Chase Architectural Metals Pontiac Chase, while Skip Cummins and Tony Ave are set to share the No. 31 Cyberonics Pontiac Riley for Margraf Racing. The new team joining the fray is ADi Motorsports, which will see Shawn Bayliff and an as-yet-unnamed co-driver share the team's No. 40 BMW-powered Picchio.
Completing the strong Daytona Prototype entry will be Shane Lewis and Darius Grala in the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley for Southard Motorsports, Chris and Rob Dyson and Harrison Brix in the No. 06 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports, Brian Tuttle and a to-be-announced co-driver in the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley, Doug Goad and Marc-Antoine Camirand in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing/Spiralz Custom Jewelry/Chemcraft Pontiac Crawford, David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar for Brumos Racing, and Hurley Haywood and JC France co-driving the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar.
In the GT class, the championship battle has heated up considerably with No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup driver Craig Stanton holding a slim, five-point lead over No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Andy Lally and Marc Bunting (323-318). In fact, just 18 points separates Stanton from a two-way tie for fourth place in the GT standings between his No. 80 co-driver, David Murry, and No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 driver Joey Hand.
Stanton and Murry are still searching for their first Rolex Series GT class victory of the season, and a triumph this weekend would be even sweeter with VIR serving as headquarters for Synergy Racing. However, the TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs have come on strong of late, with three GT victories in the past four races. Lally and Bunting won the last time out in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen, while No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards claimed victories at Phoenix and the CompUSA 200 at The Glen.
Winchester, Va.-based BMW Team PTG cannot be counted out at VIR. Hand will co-drive the team's No. 16 machine with Justin Marks, and both drivers have visited victory lane three times thus far in 2005. Two-time GT champion Bill Auberlen is looking for another GT win in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services BMW M3 he will share with Tom Milner, while RJ Valentine will be paired with Kelly Collins in the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3 and Chris Gleason and Ian James will share the No. 22 BMW Financial Services BMW M3. The team will field a fifth BMW M3 in the VIR 400, with Billy Johnson and Matt Connolly set to co-drive the team's No. 13 machine.
Cory Friedman and Leh Keen--who claimed their first Rolex Series GT victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen co-driving with Wolf Henzler--are also looking for their second victory of the season in the No. 14 Keen Cap/Toptul Porsche GT3 Cup for Autometrics Motorsports. A 26-car GT entry is on-tap for the VIR 400.
Saturday will see the final curtain drop on the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series, as Grand Sport (GS) points leader David Empringham looks to wrap-up the GS title in his No. 05 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT and Sport Touring (ST) class points leader David Haskell looks to do the same in his No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.
Following a full day of testing on Thursday at VIR, the weekend officially gets underway on Friday with Rolex Series GT practice from 9:20 to 9:50 a.m. ET, followed by an hour-long Rolex Series all-skate. The Daytona Prototypes will have the VIR road circuit to themselves from 10:50 to 11:20 a.m., followed by the first Grand-Am Cup Series practice session from 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. The Rolex Series returns for practice from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., while Grand-Am Cup concludes the day's activities with a practice from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Grand-Am Cup Series will take to the track for practice from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. ET, followed by the final pre-qualifying practice session for the Rolex Series from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. Grand-Am Cup ST qualifying will run from 11:00 to 11:15 a.m., with the 15-minute Grand-Am Cup GS qualifying session slated to begin at 11:25 a.m. The Rolex Series GT class will qualify from 12:45 to 1:00 p.m., followed by Daytona Prototype qualifying from 1:10 to 1:25 p.m.
The VIR 200 for the Grand-Am Cup Series will take the green flag at approximately 1:50 p.m. ET with a scheduled distance of 200 miles (62 laps) and a two-and-a-half hour time limit. A few hours after the checkered flag drops, the Grand-Am Cup Series will celebrate its 2005 season in the Champions Awards Celebration at VIR, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday's schedule will see the Rolex Series on-track for its final, pre-race tune-up from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. ET, with the green flag on the VIR 400 expected shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET. The scheduled distance for the VIR 400 is 400 kilometers (250 miles, 77 laps), with a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.
SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of the Rolex Series VIR 400 beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. SPEED Channel will also carry the VIR 200 for the Grand-Am Cup Series on a tape-delayed basis at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 13.
Live coverage from throughout the weekend, including Live Timing & Scoring and audio webcasts in English and Spanish will be available via the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.