Four Points Separate Top Four in Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Point Standings Heading to Infineon DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 21, 2007) -- With just two rounds remaining for the Daytona Prototype class in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car ...
Four Points Separate Top Four in Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Point Standings Heading to Infineon
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 21, 2007) -- With just two rounds remaining for the Daytona Prototype class in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve competition, the driver's championship remains the closest in series history. Four drivers, representing three different Rolex Series efforts, need strong performances this weekend in the Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. to claim the championship.
Two former champions remain tied atop the Daytona Prototype Championship with 354 points. Scott Pruett, the 2004 champion, in the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Lexus Riley, and 2005 champion Max Angelelli, piloting the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, lead No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley teammates Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty by just four points.
Ironically enough entering the Northern California round, each of the championship-contending machines has a local connection. Pruett hails from Auburn -- near Sacramento -- while Fogarty calls Portola Valley in the South Bay his hometown. Angelelli's co-driver in the No. 10, Memo Gidley, hails from nearby Novato. Each driver's hometown is less than 100 miles from the track, adding the additional pressure of a hometown race to a tense championship battle.
The championship contenders have reached this point in very different fashions. Pruett has teamed with Memo Rojas in each race of the season -- with the exception of Pruett's win during the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona -- and remained consistent on the track. The No. 01 added a second win at Iowa Speedway and has finished outside of the top five only twice -- a sixth-place effort at the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona and an eighth-place finish at Virginia International Raceway. Pruett survived a late race splash-and-go fuel stop to capture a wildly popular victory in front of his hometown fans one year ago in California's wine country.
Angelelli's season hasn't had the same clean look as Pruett's, but the results have been nearly identical. Angelelli's co-drivers in the No. 10 have included team owner Wayne Taylor, Jeff Gordon, Jan Magnussen, Jonathon Cochet, and Gidley. Despite the variety, Angelelli has earned two wins -- at Virginia International Speedway and at the Rolex Series' debut in Montreal -- and made the podium all but three times this season. Angelelli finished fourth last season at Infineon, then teamed with Magnussen.
After some early season struggles, the No. 99 GAINSCO team has plowed its way into championship contention the old-fashioned way -- winning. The team has captured a Grand-Am record-tying six wins this season, including five in the last seven races. Fogarty and Gurney now sit just four points behind the lead, the closest the duo has been all season. Last year in Sonoma, Fogarty climbed into the lead before contact with another car damaged the suspension and forced the team out of the race, leaving a very fast machine with a sour 25th-place finish. The No. 99 is looking for redemption this weekend, which could include leaving with a championship lead and the Grand-Am record for wins in a season.
One car with an eye on that single-season record this week is the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford, piloted this week by regular driver Patrick Long and Terry Borcheller. Borcheller, making his first Daytona Prototype appearance since the Rolex 24 At Daytona, set the single-season wins mark in 2003 on his way to the championship. Long also co-piloted the car to its only victory this season -- at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Krohn Racing returns to Infineon Raceway this weekend with its usual two-car effort, fielding the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley with team owner Tracy Krohn and Max Papis, and Nic Jonsson scheduled to be the lead driver in the No. 75 Pontiac Riley. Colin Braun -- currently sixth in the championship -- will not drive this weekend, as he is serving a one-race suspension handed down by Grand-Am officials for a series of on-track incidents.
Michael Shank Racing will bring its two-car campaign to Infineon in search of the team's first victory after experiencing success in recent races. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley, driven by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri, finished a season-best third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, while No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Playboy Lexus Riley drivers Ian James and John Pew own a pair of fourth-place finishes.
Brumos Porsche will also bring two cars, with David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley and Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche/Kendall Porsche Riley. Donohue and Law have finished in the top 10 in every race since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The only California-based team, Luggage Express Team Sigalsport Dinan with its No. 05 BMW Riley, will be on hand with Southern California natives Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff. The pair combined to win in March the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After sitting out the last race, Patrick Carpentier returns to the No. 11 SAMAX/CITGO Pontiac Riley team with Kris Szekeres. The team ran in the top three in this month's Montreal 400k at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve before finishing 10th. Carpentier and the SAMAX crew finished seventh in last year's race.
Several other teams have recorded top five finishes in recent races. No. 19 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Lexus Riley co-drivers Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante were second at Iowa Speedway, while Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens took the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley to second at Montreal.
No. 39 Cheever Racing/Pontiac Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Antonio Garcia were fourth at Montreal, while the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold/RBC Financial Lexus Riley, this weekend entered with Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins, took fifth two weeks ago at Watkins Glen International.
No. 3 Southard Motorsports Preformed Line Products/TrueChoice Motorsports Lexus Riley co-drivers Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman and No. 8 Synergy Racing EMC Mechanical/Gamewell Mechanical Porsche Doran co-drivers Rick Knoop and David Murry will also be looking for their first top-five finishes this weekend at Infineon.
Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 Fast Facts
What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve
Who: Daytona Prototype cars, featuring several top American and international sports car driving stars
Where: Infineon Raceway -- Sonoma, California
When: Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007 -- 2:45 p.m. local time
TV: SPEED, Same Day, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007 -- 7 p.m. ET
Schedule of Events (All times local, Pacific Time):
Thursday, Aug. 23
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
Friday, Aug. 24
9:15 AM - 9:45 AM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
4:20 PM - 4:35 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
Saturday, Aug. 25
8:30 AM - 9:00 AM Final Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Rolex Series Drivers Autograph Session
2:45 PM START -- Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 (250 miles/99 laps/2 ½-hour time limit)
TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown