Watkins Glen II: Round nine preview

Rolex Series Points Leaders Angelelli & Taylor Ready to Take On NASCAR Stars in CompUSA 200 at The Glen DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 9, 2005) -- With a series-leading three 2005 victories already under their belts, Grand American Rolex Sports Car...

Rolex Series Points Leaders Angelelli & Taylor Ready to Take On NASCAR Stars in CompUSA 200 at The Glen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 9, 2005) -- With a series-leading three 2005 victories already under their belts, Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype co-points leaders Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor will once again battle sports car racing's elite and four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars--including arguably the hottest driver in racing--in Friday's CompUSA 200 at The Glen (SPEED Channel, 10 p.m. ET).

Angelelli and Taylor, who co-drive the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, head to the historic Watkins Glen International circuit sharing a 14-point lead (247-233) in the Daytona Prototype driver standings over the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing driving duo of Luis Diaz and 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett. Angelelli and Taylor won the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona and Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to open the season, and had a pair of second-place finishes in the first seven races of the season.

The SunTrust duo picked up their third victory of the season two weeks ago in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park to kick-off the second half of the 14-race campaign, and appear to have heated up at the right time in their quest for the Daytona Prototype championship.

However, Angelelli and Taylor may find their road to championship will have to go through NEXTEL Cup points leader Tony Stewart, at least for this weekend. There's likely no driver in racing hotter than Stewart, as his popular victory in last weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was his fourth NEXTEL Cup race win in six races since his road course triumph in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in late June.

This weekend, Stewart will not only be looking to climb the fence to celebrate yet another NEXTEL Cup race win and extend his points lead in Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen, but he is also hungry for his first career Rolex Series race victory. The 2002 NASCAR champion will once again share the No. 20 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford with sports car superstar Andy Wallace for the CompUSA 200.

Stewart and Wallace have teamed-up for three Daytona Prototype podium finishes in five races together since the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona, but both drivers are hoping that Stewart's recent run of success in NEXTEL Cup competition will translate to their first victory together on Friday night.

As was also the case in June's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, Stewart--who is also entered to compete in Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen--will once again be joined in the field by fellow NASCAR stars Kyle Petty and Bobby and Terry Labonte. It will be Bobby Labonte's third-consecutive Rolex Series appearance, as the 2000 NASCAR champion will be rejoined in Doran Labonte Racing's No. 44 Loctite Pontiac Doran by his brother, two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte, who is making his third Rolex Series start of the season.

Petty, meanwhile, will make his second 2005 Rolex Series appearance aboard the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley alongside co-driver and car owner, Brian Tuttle. All four NASCAR stars will have their work cut out for them if they are to visit victory lane this weekend against a full field of top-flight sports car racers.

In addition to the SunTrust juggernaut, Diaz and Pruett are likely to be heard from as well. The CompUSA teammates have two Rolex Series victories this season, and are looking to return to the top step of the podium for the first time since their triumph in the Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. Like Stewart, Pruett will also attempt the Watkins Glen triple, as he is entered to drive the No. 39 Target Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing in Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen as well as the No. 4 GEICO Dodge for Biagi Brothers Racing in the Zippo 200 through a partnership with the Ganassi operation.

Also not to be overlooked are three sets of co-drivers that have already tasted victory champagne in 2005 Rolex Series competition. Running as teammates to Wallace and Stewart with Howard-Boss Motorsports, No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson came out on top the last time the NEXTEL Cup Series stars competed in the Brumos Porsche 250. EFR and Leitzinger have a total of four podium finishes in eight races this season, and have shown the ability to win at any time.

Likewise, their teammates in the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, co-drivers Milka Duno and Jan Lammers, claimed a victory while co-driving with Wallace in May's 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant. They too could provide a formidable challenge come race day.

Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson co-drove their No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley to victory in the last Rolex Series visit to upstate New York under soggy conditions in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. They would certainly love to double-up at The Glen and have the car under them to do just that.

When looking for worthy candidates to take a breakthrough victory on Friday, one needs look no further than Krohn and Jonsson's teammates in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and Germany's Jorg Bergmeister. Between them, Bergmeister and Fittipaldi have led 213 laps thus far in 2005, but their best finish to date was a second-place run in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. This driving combination has shown plenty of speed throughout the season and with a little more luck, they could certainly find themselves standing in victory lane on Friday night.

Another pair of potential winners can be found at Finlay Motorsports, as No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley co-drivers Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell head to Watkins Glen on the heels of a career-best second-place showing at Barber Motorsports Park. Gidley and McDowell haven't finished lower than fourth in their last four starts.

Other 2005 podium finishers looking to find their way to the top step at Watkins Glen include the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley duo of Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson, No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley co-drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. with Michael Shank Racing and the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran pairing of Terry Borcheller and Ralf Kelleners.

Further strengthening a solid Daytona Prototype field are Bob Stallings and Barber Motorsports Park pole-winner Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, Italian co-drivers Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi in the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran for Doran Racing, sports car legend Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar, No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar co-drivers Darren Law and David Donohue, Jim Matthews and Guy Smith co-driving the No. 39 Jim Matthews Racing Pontiac Riley for Orbit Racing, the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software Pontiac Riley driving trio of Chris Bingham and Hugo and Jacques Guenette with CB Motorsports, Doug Goad and French Canadian standout Marc-Antoine Camirand in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing/Spiralz Custom Jewelry Pontiac Crawford, No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran co-drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle, Chris Dyson and Harrison Brix co-driving the No. 06 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford in a fourth entry for Howard-Boss Motorsports, and Shane Lewis and Darius Grala in the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley with Southard Motorsports.

In the GT class, No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 co-drivers Joey Hand and Justin Marks will be looking for their third-consecutive class victory in the CompUSA 200. The BMW Team PTG teammates took back-to-back wins in the Brumos Porsche 250 and the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant, moving both drivers into the top-four positions in the GT driver standings.

Hand--who also took a GT class victory at Watkins Glen International last August co-driving with Boris Said--is currently tied for second in the GT point standings with David Murry. Murry's No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup co-driver, Craig Stanton, leads the championship by 18 points, 218-210, while Marks is in fourth place with 202 points.

Murry and Stanton are still looking for their first GT class victory of the season, but the pair has finished on the class podium three times, and Stanton hasn't finished lower than sixth in class all season. Nevertheless, both drivers are hungry to win.

No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Leh Keen and Cory Friedman won the GT class with guest driver Wolf Henzler in the series' last visit to Watkins Glen International in June, and head back to the Finger Lakes region looking for a repeat win. In addition to Hand and Marks, BMW Team PTG has also visited victory circle this season with No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3 co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner, as well as Ian James, who co-drove to victory at Mont-Tremblant with Hand and will share the team's No. 22 BMW Financial Services BMW with Chris Gleason on Friday. Completing the team's four-car lineup will be Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine in the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3.

Marc Bunting and Andy Lally claimed a GT class victory driving a Porsche in March's Grand Prix of Miami, but are now sharing the brand-new No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. The co-drivers turned in the new race car's best result to date with a fourth-place run at Barber Motorsports Park last month, and are looking for their second class victory of the season. They will be joined by Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen--who took the overall victory alongside co-driver Didier Theys in last year's August race at Watkins Glen--in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R.

The two-day schedule will see both Rolex Series classes on track for practice for the first time from 11:00 a.m. ET to 12:00 Noon on Thursday, August 11. A second hour-long practice will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, followed by GT qualifying from 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. and Daytona Prototype qualifying from 3:45 to 4:00 p.m. A final practice session will run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday.

On Friday, August 12, there will be a Rolex Series driver autograph session from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. ET, and the green flag is scheduled to drop on the CompUSA 200, Round 9 of the 14-race 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, at 6:00 p.m. The scheduled distance is 200 miles (82 laps), but the race will be subject to a two-hour time limit.

SPEED Channel will provide television coverage on a same-day delay beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring data from every session, as well as audio webcasts of the race in both English and Spanish will be available via the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Autometrics Motorsports , Doran Racing , Michael Shank Racing