Utah: Howard-Boss Motorsports race report

Wallace, Leitzinger Charge to Third in Rolex Series Season Finale at Miller Motorsports Park BOSS Snowplow Team earns second consecutive podium finish Tooele, UT (September 1, 2006) .In one of the most exciting finishes of ...

Wallace, Leitzinger Charge to Third in Rolex Series Season Finale at Miller Motorsports Park

BOSS Snowplow Team earns second consecutive podium finish

Tooele, UT (September 1, 2006) .In one of the most exciting finishes of the entire Grand American Rolex Series season, Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger charged to a third-place finish in the Discount Tire SunChaser 9 Hour at Miller Motorsports Park. The event was the first ever Rolex Series race at the 4.486-mile, 24-turn course near Salt Lake City, Utah, and was the 2006 season finale for the Rolex Series.

When combined with the second at Infineon Raceway one week ago, the strong performance on Saturday night gave the Howard-Boss Motorsports Team two consecutive podium finishes. Ironically, the two podiums in the final two events were the only two podiums of the 2006 Rolex Series season for the third-year BOSS Snowplow Team.

After an open-test day on Wednesday and multiple practice sessions Thursday and Friday, Andy Wallace was selected to qualify the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford on Friday afternoon. Wallace's fast lap of 2:39.849 placed him 11th in the forty car starting field. Wallace was among three Crawford chassis prototypes that qualified in the top eleven.

With nine hours of very competitive sports car racing on a new venue to decide both the individual driver and team championships in the Rolex Series, everyone knew that to "finish first, you first have to finish". Therefore, many drivers and teams settled into a steady race pace early in the event, and played their race strategy accordingly. With the possibility of very few if any full course cautions, track position would be very important. Wallace held his position in 11th for the first twenty laps, and was running 10th when he made his first pit stop on lap 25 for tires and fuel only. He reentered the race in 19th, but quickly moved back up to 10th by lap forty.

Wallace made his second trip to pit road on lap 52 for fuel, tires, and a driver change. He was running 8th when he pitted, and Butch Leitzinger reentered the race in 12th. By lap 60, Leitzinger moved to the 8th position and was the next to last car on the lead lap. With teams on different pit stop cycles, Leitzinger was able to maintain his pace and gain track position during the early stages of his stint. By lap 78, the veteran road racer was running 4th, 1 minute and 3 seconds behind the leading #10 car. Leitzinger made his first stop of the race on lap 80 for fuel and tires and rejoined the race in the 11th position.

Leitzinger continued to work heavy race traffic and gain positions in the running order. At the halfway point of the race, Leitzinger had the BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford in the 3rd position, 44.7 seconds behind the #01 car. On lap 104, Leitzinger moved to second, and was putting intense pressure on the leading #11 car. Four laps later, Leitzinger pitted for fuel, tires, and driver change.

Andy Wallace climbed aboard for his second double stint of the race and returned to the track in 6th position. Twelve laps later, the Englishman had driven his way up to third. Wallace would move to second before pitting on lap 136 for tires and fuel. Four laps later, the only caution of the race waved for debris on the course. Wallace would restart in second on lap 144, and experience a heavy buildup on the tires. He would loser one position until lap 157 when he regained second behind the #01 car. Wallace would continue to run second until he made the final pit stop of the event for the Howard-Boss Motorsports Team on lap 166. Butch Leitzinger assumed the driving duties at this point, and, after receiving tires and fuel, rejoined the action in the 7th position. With darkness beginning to settle over the beautiful Utah road course, battles for positions were starting to get "hot and heavy".

On lap 171, Leitzinger was running fifth, 11.4 seconds behind leader Oswaldo Negri. The final 23 laps were arguably the best racing of the season. With darkness covering the raceway, visibility was limited at best. However, on lap 185, Leitzinger turned the fastest lap of all the competitors and moved to within 8.6 seconds of the lead. Five laps later, Leitzinger chopped that deficit in half and trailed leader Negri by only 4.2 seconds. Plus, he moved to within three car lengths of third-place Pruett.

As the cars came off the final turn and down the frontstretch with two laps remaining, Leitzinger dove to the inside of Pruett and took third place from the #01 car. The veteran road racer set his sights on the second- place #19 car. However, his valiant effort would come up just short and Leitzinger would drive the #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford to the checkered flag in the third position. At the finish, Leitzinger was closing in on the #19 car and finished only three seconds behind the victorious #60 car.

"What a tremendous effort by this entire team to achieve this podium," Wallace commented after the race. "My teammate (Butch Leitzinger) did a marvelous job in difficult conditions during that final segment in the dark. My hat's off to the BOSS Snowplow Team for their hard work preparing our Pontiac Crawford. We didn't get the victory, but the effort by this team and the strong podium finishes the final two races gives shows how good this team is."

"That was certainly a challenge during the final stint," Leitzinger added. "Since I missed the night practice on Thursday, Andy was supposed to get the 'night shift'. But, as it turned out, I was in the car for the final stint, so I guess I owe Andy one for this one! The pit stops were really good and our Pontiac Crawford was strong all race long. This team deserves a much better season than we had overall, but our two podiums gives everyone something positive to close the season with. I really want to thank everyone on this team for all their hard work and effort this season."

With the checkered flag in the Discount Tire SunChaser 9-Hour at Miller Motorsports Park, the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series season draws to a close. The #4 BOSS Snowplow Pontiac Crawford Racing Team from Howard-Boss Motorsports finished strong with two outstanding performances and podiums at Infineon Raceway and Miller Motorsports Park. Thanks to everyone for their support of the Howard-Boss Motorsports Teams during 2006.

-credit: hbm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Oswaldo Negri Jr.