Utah: Season finale pre-race notes

Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype, GT Title Battles Come Down To Wire in Saturday's Sunchaser at Miller DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 12, 2007) -- With only Saturday's Sunchaser 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park remaining in Grand-Am ...

Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype, GT Title Battles Come Down To Wire in Saturday's Sunchaser at Miller

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 12, 2007) -- With only Saturday's Sunchaser 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park remaining in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve competition, both the Daytona Prototype and GT driver and team championships remain up for grabs. The 1000k, seven-and-a-half hour race is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. MT (SPEED, Live from 1-2:30 p.m. ET and 5:30 p.m.-finish).

The Daytona Prototype driver's championship lead is held by Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, searching for their first Rolex Series Championship in an already record-breaking season. The duo have started 10 of the 13 events from the pole position and have recorded seven wins, the most ever in one season of Rolex Series competition.

Gurney and Fogarty will be joined by former Champ Car World Series champions Jimmy Vasser at the season finale. Vasser also drove the car at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and at Miller one season ago. Last year, the GAINSCO team finished the season-ender in ninth position with the same trio.

A single point behind in the drivers championship (385-384) is 2004 Daytona Prototype driver's champion Scott Pruett, piloting the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley with season-long co-driver Memo Rojas and Rojas' fellow countryman Salvador Duran. Duran helped Pruett begin his championship run, as the pair teamed with Juan Pablo Montoya for a victory in the twice-around-the-clock season opener.

Sitting in third place with 382 points -- just three behind Gurney and Fogarty -- is No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley pilot and 2005 Rolex Series co-Champion Max Angelelli. The SunTrust team will take a different approach to Saturday's race, with only Angelelli and Jan Magnussen scheduled to pilot the No. 10 machine. The duo has teamed for two victories this season.

In addition to the driver's championship, the team championship also has yet to be decided. Like the driver's standings, the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team sits in the lead, one point ahead of TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and three points ahead of SunTrust Racing.

While the majority of the race's attention will rightfully focus on the championship contenders, a number of other teams are in position to steal some of the thunder with a good weekend.

Michael Shank Racing returns to the site of the team's lone Rolex Series victory, hungry for a second at Miller Motorsports Park. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri captured the race win a year ago in a thrilling final hour of racing, and the pair is joined this year by Champ Car regular Justin Wilson. John Pew, Ian James and Henri Zogaib, in the team's sister car -- No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley -- are in search of their first career wins and the magic that the team found last fall.

The No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley duo of David Donohue and Darren Law are coming off of their team's best performance in nearly four years with a second-place finish at Infineon Raceway, the season's penultimate round. Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, will rejoin the team after competing with Donohue, Law and Scott Sharp in this year's Rolex 24. The No. 59 Brumos Porsche Kendall Porsche Riley, piloted by Hurley Haywood and JC France, is one of sports car racing's most recognizable teams, and that duo is hoping to once again stand atop the podium. Former Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller will also co-drive the No. 59.

One team searching for the form it held last season is Krohn Racing, which will enter both the No. 75 Pontiac Riley driven by Nic Jonsson and Colin Braun and the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of Max Papis and Tracy Krohn. The team won the driver's championship a year ago with Jorg Bergmeister, but has yet to capture a win this season.

Bergmeister returns to the series after missing the previous two races in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford. Bergmeister joins season-long driver Patrick Long and last year's Rolex Series MESCO Building Solutions Rookie of the Year Award winner Mike Rockenfeller in the car for this weekend. The team won the U.S. Sports Car Invitational delivered by Luggage Express at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this season, but has finished in the top five only one other time.

No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport regulars Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff will be joined by Joey Hand this weekend as they look for their second win of the season. Auberlen and Alhadeff captured the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami earlier this year.

A number of teams have been inching ever closer to success in 2007 and, while out of championship contention, hope to cap the season with a great finish in the Sunchaser 1000k. Among those teams is the No. 19 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Lexus Riley. The No. 19 machine will be driven by series regular Michael Valiante and 18-year-old Dane Cameron, who replaces Rob Finlay as he continues to recover from an injured shoulder.

Also hoping to be in the mix at the finish is the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar driven by regulars Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix, joined by Richard Antinucci. The team has finished as high as fourth since a midseason change of engine manufacturers.

Ryan Hunter-Reay rejoins Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley for this weekend's event. The No. 91 has finished second, fourth, and sixth, respectively, in the past three races and hopes the longer format of the Sunchaser 1000k might provide an opportunity to drive to victory lane.

The No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold Lexus Riley has shown in recent races that it has the pace to run with the leaders in stints, and drivers Brian Frisselle, Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle hope to carry that pace through an entire race. Also hoping to run up front is the No. 3 Southard Motorsports Preformed Line Products/TrueChoice Lexus Riley of Shane Lewis, Randy Ruhlman and Eric Lux and the No. 11 SAMAX Pontiac Riley of Kris Szekeres and Tomas Enge.

A new engine makes its debut in Rolex Series competition as Spirit of Daytona Racing unveils a new Porsche-based V-8 engine in its No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche-based V-8 Fabcar at Miller Motorsports Park. Guy Cosmo, Marc-Antoine Camirand and Doug Goad will have the privilege and responsibility of piloting that machine during the 1000k race.

A number of teams are using this race as an opportunity to rejoin the series or prepare for next season. The No. 77 Feeds The Need/Doran Racing Kodak Ford Doran piloted by Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger return to the series for the first time since a 13th-place finish at the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Continuing its program is the No. 31 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pit Bull Energy Drink Pontiac Chase, which has joined the series for two consecutive races. The No. 31 machine will be piloted by team owner Matt Connolly, Ted Ballou and Shawn Price.

Also making its return to the series is RVO Motorsports, with Bill Lester, Roger Schramm and Justin Bell piloting the No. 12 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Riley. The team has not campaigned in Rolex Series action since Mid-Ohio.

The Sunchaser 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park will also decide the GT driver and team championships.

German rookie Dirk Werner leads the driver's championship by five points (345-340) over Andy Lally and RJ Valentine, and with a win or second-place finish, will take home the title. Werner and No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports IPC/Marquis Jet Porsche GT3 co-driver Bryce Miller won at Virginia International Raceway, and have scored nine podiums this season. Miller sits fourth in the standings as he and Werner drove separate cars for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Veteran Porsche driver Wolf Henzler will join the duo at Miller.

Defending series and Sunchaser 1000k champion Lally and co-driver Valentine are gunning for a sixth win this season in their No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3. Coupled with a third-place or lower finish for Werner, a victory would hand the TRG duo the driver's championship. Lally and Valentine -- who won the most recent race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after a last-lap pass on Werner -- are also gunning for TRG's second straight Sunchaser win and third straight team championship. TRG regular Spencer Pumpelly joins the pair for the race.

Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards also have a possibility of winning the championship, but need a strong finish and a little bit of help. Having led the standings earlier in the season and winning the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, Collins and Edwards are 15 points behind Werner and 10 in arrears of Lally and Valentine. If Collins and Edwards win, they can take the title with a finish of 12th or worse by Werner and a seventh or worse by Lally and Valentine. Joining them will be 2004 Rolex 24 overall co-winner Andy Pilgrim.

Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8 hope to end their 2007 season with the same strength they did to open the year. Despite three victories and three GT pole positions, the duo suffered a rough midseason, including a 22nd-place class finish in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen where Tremblay crashed midway through the race and retired the car without Ham driving. Sitting seventh and eighth respectively, Tremblay and Ham led the standings earlier this season, and would like none other to end the season with victory number four. David Haskell is the team's listed third driver.

The four cars are also locked into a hotly contested battle for the team championship. Both the No. 87 Farnbacher-Loles and the No. 66 TRG cars are tied with 340 points, giving the team championship to the highest placing car. If both cars should falter, however, both the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac and the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda still have a shot at the team title.

Rounding out the top 10 in the driver's championship are teammates Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. in the second of two Banner Racing entries. The pair piloted the No. 06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R to a victory at Lime Rock Park, finished second at Iowa Speedway and led off the year with a fourth in the Rolex 24. Accomplished sports car veteran Johnny O'Connell will join the duo at Miller.

Werner and Miller and Lally and Valentine can each rely on their teammates for help staying near the front. The trio of Dominik Farnbacher, Leh Keen and Ian Baas will drive the No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes For Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3. The race marks the first for Keen since a practice accident at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The car has led multiple races this season and the trio is looking to put it in victory lane for the first time in 2007.

Lally, Valentine and Pumpelly are one of only four TRG cars entered. Jim Lowe, Jim Pace and John Potter are entered in the No. 64 TRG J Lowe Racing/SRS Porsche GT3; Ross Smith, Daniel DiLeo and Bryan Sellers will pilot the No. 65 TRG Maxwell Paper Products Co. Porsche GT3; and Peter Ludwig, Quentin Wahl and John Mayes will wheel the No. 67 TRG Wolf-tec.com/WTI Porsche GT3. All three cars are still in the hunt for their first 2007 victories.

Tremblay will also have his second car, the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8, for artillery. Haskell is also entered to drive the No. 69, as is team regular Nick Longhi and the team's Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series GS driver Jose Armengol.

Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Carlos de Quesada in the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3 also hope to end the season strong after starting it that way. The pair combined with Scooter Gabel and Marc Basseng to win the GT portion of the Rolex 24. The team has not won since, but picked up a solid fourth at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Dumoulin's hometown GT race. Dumoulin's brother Louis-Philippe will co-drive the team's No. 26 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3 with Kris Wilson at MMP.

Other multi-car efforts include Playboy Racing/Unitech and Team Sahlen. Playboy, seeking its first race since Mid-Ohio, has Tommy Constantine, Mike Borkowski and David Murry entered in both the Nos. 33 and 35 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Nissan 350Zs. Joe Sahlen and Will and Wayne Nonnamaker will drive the No. 42 HRPworld.com Corvette, while Will, Wayne and Joe Nonnamaker will drive the similar No. 43 HRPworld.com Corvette.

Several Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series teams will make the stop this weekend as well. No. 03 Georgian Bay Motorsports SCADAPack/Track Bar Corvette lists the trio of Jamie Holtom, Eric Curran and Ken Wilden to drive, while Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey will team with Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub to debut Hyper Sport's No. 40 SoBe Beverage Mazda RX-8.

Single car efforts are being operated by Doncaster Racing, Matt Connolly Motorsports, O'Connell Racing, Racers Edge Motorsports, Competition Marketing Motorsports, Beachman Racing, Stevenson Motorsports (with defending race co-winner Marc Bunting), Synergy Racing and Corsa Motorsports, which will supply Utah native Steve Pruitt the No. 62 Equiwest Ferrari F430 CH.

The Rolex Series Championships will be decided on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, in a 1000k endurance race to the checkered flag. The race's start will air live on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET, with the action continuing to the checkered flag beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve

Who: Daytona Prototype and GT class cars, featuring several top American and international sports car driving stars

Where: Miller Motorsports Park -- Tooele, Utah

When: Saturday, Sept. 15 -- 11 a.m. MT

TV: SPEED, Live from 1-2:30 p.m. ET and 5:30 p.m.-Finish

Schedule of Events (All times local, Mountain Time):

Thursday, Sept. 13
10:00 AM - 10:30 AM Practice -- Rolex Series GT
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM Practice -- Rolex Series (All)
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
1:00 PM - 1:45 PM Practice -- KONI Challenge Series
4:00 PM - 4:30 PM Practice -- Rolex Series (All)
4:45 PM - 5:00 PM Qualifying -- KONI Challenge Series ST
5:10 PM - 5:25 PM Qualifying -- KONI Challenge Series GS

Friday, Sept. 14
9:00 AM - 9:45 AM Practice -- KONI Challenge Series (All)
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM Practice -- Rolex Series (All)
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Rolex Drivers Autograph Session
1:45 PM - 2:00 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT
2:15 PM - 2:30 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes
2:45 PM Recon Laps -- KONI Challenge Series
3:00 PM START -- KONI Challenge Series Race (200 miles/45 laps/2 ½-hour time limit)

Saturday, Sept. 15
7:50 AM - 8:05 AM Final Practice -- Rolex Series
10:30 AM Pre-Race Ceremonies, Recon Laps -- Rolex Series
11:00 AM START -- Sunchaser 1000k (1000 kilometers/7 ½-hour time limit)

TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown


Live Timing & Scoring is available for all Rolex Series practices, qualifying sessions and races on the official Grand-Am website -- www.grand-am.com. A live audio webcast in English and Spanish is available at www.grand-am.com.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya , Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Racers Edge Motorsports , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing