Utah: GM Racing halfway race report

Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes Lead for Much of Race; Pontiac's GTO.Rs Clinch Maunfacturers Championship TOOELE, Utah - After the halfway point of the Discount Tire Sunchaser, the final round of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car ...

Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes Lead for Much of Race; Pontiac's GTO.Rs Clinch Maunfacturers Championship

TOOELE, Utah - After the halfway point of the Discount Tire Sunchaser, the final round of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, Pontiac-powered race cars still run strong in both classes. In the GT class, Pontiac clinched the manufacturers championship after its first full season of competition and their drivers Andy Lally and Marc Bunting of the #65 TRG F1 Air GTO.R are in good standing for drivers and team championships. In the DP class, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli and Ryan Hunter-Reay have led a substantial part of the race. They have been supported by a large number of Pontiac DPs which have led or consistently ran up front.

"It's going good so far," said Bunting after handing over the #65 GTO.R to Spencer Pumpelly. "We had a slight power steering issue - a leak - but that's straightened out and everything seems to be going good there. The car was great and consistent over my stint. The tires are holding up well and the guys have set it up nicely. Now we just need to keep it up and finish in the top four to get our championships."

Bunting's teammates Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Kris Wilson of the #64 TRG/iRise GTO.R have had less luck as they too suffered from power steering issues. The team replaced the power steering pump during the morning practice session and were not able to start the race with the rest of the field. They are now eight laps down but have also corrected any problems that the new pump had given them.

"I had to fight with the steering wheel to keep it straight on the straightaways," said Collins. "It's not fun to race like that but you learn to deal with it. They've got it sorted out now though."

Edwards and Collins have locked into third-place for team and driver points. The DP manufacturer and driver championships however, are still up for grabs. Pontiac needs a first-place finish or must finish two spots ahead of Lexus to clinch. Max Angelelli is in contention for a driver championship and led many laps. Their team, however, has since dropped out of the top ten after pitting for engine problems.

"We've been leading for a long time and we had a tire go down so we came in and put new tires on there," said team owner Wayne Taylor. "Then we had a misfire for which we came in again. We haven't pinpointed the problem but it seems to be okay now. The guys are checking on the data. We're now one and a half laps down. There's still a long way to go, however."

The No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger have climbed steadily in positions and are now third. Wallace is pleased with his race car.

"At the moment the car is getting better and better after each lap," said Wallace. "We've got the right setup for the end of the race which is really what counts. We're really happy."

The same goes for the No. 11 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley. Co-driver Stefan Johansson claims the team has been running flawless the entire race.

"We just keep plugging away and try not to make too many mistakes," Johansson said. "The Pontiac engine seems to be running great. We haven't had any problems with it so far and, compared to the other cars, it seems certainly as strong as anything I've come across out there so far."

Both the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley and the No. 89 PCM/Vonage/Playboy/Palms Pontiac Riley suffered minor mechanical mishaps that set them slightly back. The No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Pontiac Riley and the No. 40 Preformed Products Pontiac Riley, however, both suffered engine problems that ended their races early.

"Unfortunately, we had our first major mechanical problem of the season at the very last race," said Adrian Fernandez, co-driver of the No. 12 machine. "It's a shame to have to end our season this way. The race was shaping up very nicely for us. The Lowe's car was getting better and better with every stint. All three of our drivers were turning faster and faster laps."

"We were in the lead and then Ryan (Dalziel) radioed in that he had trouble turning left," said Tyler Tadevic, Pacific Coast Motorsports team director. "He came in and the steering arm was broken - we put the piece on last night and it was brand new. Now we're four laps down but we're still shooting for P10. The No. 05 GTO.R, however, has had no problems and it's a testament to the high-caliber and competitiveness of this vehicle. We've got great drivers and a great crew and we're hoping for a top-five finish."

Pacific Coast Motorsports campaigns the No. 89 Pontiac Riley and the No. 05 Pontiac GTO.R, which is now a Sigalsport entry.

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Paul Edwards , Stefan Johansson , Butch Leitzinger , Adrian Fernandez , Wayne Taylor , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Max Angelelli , Spencer Pumpelly , Marc Bunting , Kris Wilson