Watkins Glen II: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams To Glen Short Course Detroit, Mich., August 5, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) teams are headed to Watkins Glen International to support the NASCAR weekend and run the short course in round 11 of the Grand-Am Rolex...

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams To Glen Short Course

Detroit, Mich., August 5, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) teams are headed to Watkins Glen International to support the NASCAR weekend and run the short course in round 11 of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run August 8.

* Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford debuts

* GAISNCO Pontiac drivers Gurney and Fogarty top Pontiac DP team in second

* GAINSCO defending Glen short course winners

The Watkins Glen short course, measuring 2.45-mile in length with 11-turns, will see the Rolex Series DP cars be at least two-seconds faster than the existing track record. Combined with the new Pirelli tire and a two-hour race limit the action will fast and curious at the Glen this Friday.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings racing drivers Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney are hungry for another win. By this point in the season last year the duo had logged six wins and eight pole positions. This season the team has one win at Mid-Ohio and no poles.

"The long course puts a premium on straight line speed as there is a very long flat-out pull from turn one all the way to the Bus Stop chicane," Gurney said. "That being said, it's a really tricky balance because the corners are very fast so you have to be careful about taking too much downforce away to achieve higher straight line speeds. We found a great compromise at the test there after the six-hour event and we think we should be very competitive and fighting for the win again on race day. We were in the 1:05s during the test as were a few others so the Pirellis and the nonstop development in this series have again put us well under the track record."

The Riley-Matthews team of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews put in some track time on the short course following the six-hour race in June. Goossens and Matthews will be looking to return to their early season form that had them post a win at Mexico City along with two podium finishes.

"I personally like the long track a little better because there are more corners and they are fairly technical from a drivers' standpoint too," Goossens said. "But racing the short track is also a lot of fun and the way Grand-Am's competition goes this year, I'm sure it will be a good two-hour race. There are some differences, yes, but it was good to test at the short track after our June race at the Glen. Hopefully we learned enough to have a good car this weekend."

The SunTrust Pontiac team has had a lot of success at Watkins Glen. The team won both the short and long events at Watkins Glen in 2005. Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante are still looking for their first win on the 2008 season. The team is encouraged that their new Dallara will perform well on The Glen short course.

"I'll have to say I am very excited because I feel the track is going to suit the SunTrust Dallara pretty well," Angelelli said. "Talking to our engineers, it will be a challenge to make set-up decisions since we have not been there with this car and the car is still so new to us. But we definitely know that track and we have had a lot of success there in the past. We'll have a couple of hours of practice before we qualify on Thursday, and then another hour after qualifying. That is the time we have to make changes that we might need to on our setup. But, no matter what, we are very excited to go to The Glen with our new Dallara."

Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson have been consistent front runners all season. They have shown good speed in their new No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. The two have managed to lead 76 laps in their new Lola so far this season which has resulted in two podium positions. The team is looking to The Glen for their first win.

"Watkins Glen is a track where we normally have good luck," Jonsson said. "Although I think we screwed up the pit strategy a little last time. We normally have a very good car there. Obviously it's going to be the first time for us with the new Proto-Auto Lola on the short track. I think we had a pretty good balanced car there last time on the long course. We'll have to trim the car a little bit more to have the straight-line speed. We'll go there and give it another shot because I think the Krohn team is doing a fantastic job preparing the car. We have a very talented crew and engineers. They'll all done a good job getting the car faster. I think we have all the components in place to go out and win races. Obviously we've been on the podium twice with this car. I feel if we have a little good luck, instead of bad luck, I think we are definitely due for a win very soon. We'll try to get it there this time."

Eric van de Poele comes into The Glen with a 24 hour win last weekend at Spa as motivation. Van de Poele will bring that skip-in-his-step to the No 75 Krohn Pontiac and try to cross pollinate that with Tracy Krohn for a top finish on Friday.

"For me it will be the first time I'm going to race on the short course version," van de Poele said. "It's not like a new track because we were there a few weeks ago. It's always good when you feel directly on pace, which is good for us too. Every time we have to learn the car quickly and to try to be competitive as quick as possible. We start from zero on every race track this year with the new Lola. This time at Watkins Glen, we have something in the pocket, so I guess we are going to be more competitive. Even if the layout of the race track is not in our advantage, I hope we can compensate by strategy or by motivation - definitely by motivation!"

Cheever Racing had its best finish with their Coyote Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac at Montreal last weekend. Christian Fittipaldi had his first start with the team for '08 and together with Antonio Garcia finished second. The team's previous best finish of the year was ninth.

"I don't really like the short course that much," Garcia said. "Our car is more competitive on the long course with more turns. The short course rewards all out speed. Christian is my teammate now and he has a lot of experience there and I think that will help us this weekend."

The No. 4 AT&T Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford will make its debut this weekend at The Glen. Three time Rolex Series champion Andy Lally will share the seat with sportscar legend Andy Wallace. The team is a joint venture between 11-time NASCAR champions Richard Childress and six-time DP winning team owner Rick Howard.

"We had a fantastic two-day test last month at Virginia International Raceway with a brand new car," said Wallace. "Andy and I use exactly the same seat so there will be no extra time needed when we make the driver change to add a seat insert. We like the same car setup so there won't be any issues there, either. I can't wait to get at it."

"Andy is one of my racing heroes so I'm looking forward to driving with him again," said Lally. "I grew up in New York and have had a lot of success at Watkins Glen so I love racing there. I only got to make one day of the test last month because of a scheduling conflict but everything seemed to go very well."

The Crown Royal 200 from The Glen will be televised Friday, August 8 on the SPEED Channel starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing