Pruett/Diaz Keep Hope Alive in VIR 400 Alton, Va. (October 9) -- Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz did what they had to do to keep their slim championship hopes alive at VIRginia International Raceway on Sunday, winning the VIR 400 in penultimate race...
Pruett/Diaz Keep Hope Alive in VIR 400
Alton, Va. (October 9) -- Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz did what they had to do to keep their slim championship hopes alive at VIRginia International Raceway on Sunday, winning the VIR 400 in penultimate race of the 2005 season for the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series.
Pruett, the defending series co-champion, and Diaz used good pit strategy and aggressive driving at the right times to capture their third victory of the season in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus/Riley. They finished 2.181sec ahead of the No. 2 Citgo/Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac/Crawford of Andy Wallace and Milka Duno, with the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford/Doran of Fabrizio Gollin/Matteo Bobbi third.
Pruett took over from Diaz, who started third and worked his way to the lead prior to the pit stop, then carved his way through traffic to retake the lead from Bobbi on Lap 64 of the 74-lap race. Points leaders Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli drove their No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac/Riley to a fourth-place finish, and will head into the season-ending race at Mexico City in two weeks with a 32-point advantage in the drivers' championship standings. Pruett and Diaz have a mathematical chance of taking the title, but Taylor and Angelelli only have to earn three points in Mexico to claim it for their own.
We did everything we could," said Pruett, who shared last year's championship with Max Papis. "Our pit stops were fabulous. The Ganassi guys put us up front all day long and we made good calls. We had a good car. We went into the race very confident. Luis did a great job. He ran hard and brought the car in up front. Towards the end we had some hard racing with the Doran guys, but this is all we could do to keep the championship alive.
"We're just going to go for it in Mexico," he continued. "We are going to change things up a bit. I'm going to qualify and start the car and Luis is going to finish because he knows the track so well. But otherwise it's going to be business as usual for us. We've just got to for it. We have nothing to lose, and we're going to run hard and try to make all the right moves and be smart. And hopefully we can get back-to-back wins."
In the GT class, Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner Jr. claimed their third victory of the year with a ninth-place overall finish in their No. 21 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3, with teammates Justin Marks and Joey Hand taking second in class, just 0.800sec further back in 10th overall, in their No. 16 F1 Air/Prototype Technology Group BMW M3. The No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Marc Bunting/Andy Lally claimed third in class with a 15th-overall finish.
The event came to a conclusion with the second race of the weekend for the Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship, which concluded its season with a 14-lap race won by the new series champion, Jay Howard. Saturday's race winner Alan Sciuto finished 7.607sec behind in second place, with J.R. Hildebrand finishing third.
Following the feature race, Grand American officials announced that next year's VIR 400 will have a new date, April 21-23, with a standalone Grand-Am Cup Series endurance event scheduled for Oct. 6-8.
The next spectator event at VIR will be the SCCA North Carolina Region's Goblins Go event, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 29-30. Tickets will be available at the gate, with two-day tickets priced at $20 and single-day tickets priced at $10 (Saturday) and $15 (Sunday). VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, which is a sales showroom for high-end collector and racing cars; the VIR Safety and Security Institute, which provides specialized training for U.S. Government and military groups; The Lodge at VIR, a 27-room hotel overlooking the track; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The renovated original circuit has 17 challenging turns and 130 feet of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days.
For more information, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or contact VIR at 434-822-7700. For more information on the Grand American Road Racing Association, visit their website at www.grandamerican.com.