NEW CENTURY SETTLES FOR FIFTH AFTER RESTART WRECKS TEAM'S POTENIAL PODIUM RUN ALTON, Va. (October 9, 2005) -- With both the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley and its Chip Ganassi Racing sister car performing in the top three as the...
NEW CENTURY SETTLES FOR FIFTH AFTER RESTART WRECKS TEAM'S POTENIAL PODIUM RUN
ALTON, Va. (October 9, 2005) -- With both the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley and its Chip Ganassi Racing sister car performing in the top three as the 74-lap VIR 400k sprint race reached its halfway mark, Cort Wagner fell victim to the clutches of the lower horse-powered GT cars on a frustrating Lap 35 restart, forcing him to abandon any chances for the Rolex Series Virginia podium.
With racing roles reversed this weekend for the team, Stefan Johansson started the 2:45 minute enduro behind the wheel of the New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates machine, and co-driver Wagner was set to put the finishing touches on what appeared to be the team's second podium of the season. Johansson gridded sixth after the field was lined up based on championship points, and the Swede had clawed his way up to third by the 18th tour of the race. But when a GT car lost an argument with a tire barrier on Lap 30, a promising race began to shift away from the New Century squad.
With the yellow flag unfurled over the monstrous 47-car field, and Wagner strapped in after the team's first pit stop, the ensuing restart saw the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley fall victim to a gaggle of cars all gunning for the same piece of real estate. The costly restart eventually dropped the car from sixth down to eighth on the timing charts.
Following the second and final pit stop on Lap 46 for fuel and new Hoosier rubber, the California native pressed on, and with the help of some added attrition, was able to finish fifth in the penultimate round of the Rolex Sports Car Series' Daytona Prototype division.
"I think Cort and I both were obviously a little disappointed with what we thought could have been a podium today," added Johansson of the drive. "The New Century car was strong, and in my stint I was able to drive hard and pick up spots. The bottom line is that track position is everything here, and we got shuffled back on that restart and never recovered."
The fifth-place result was the team's fifth top-five run of the 2005 Grand American campaign, moving them up one position to fifth in the championship with 312 markers.