Watkins Glen II: Series race report

Fogarty, Gurney Tie Single Season Rolex Series Victory Mark in Crown Royal 200 at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2007) -- After setting a track record in qualifying and posting a record-breaking pole position in Grand-Am Rolex Sports...

Fogarty, Gurney Tie Single Season Rolex Series Victory Mark in Crown Royal 200 at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2007) -- After setting a track record in qualifying and posting a record-breaking pole position in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype competition, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney continued their record-setting theme Friday in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen. The duo led virtually flag-to-flag at Wakins Glen International Raceway for their sixth win of the 2007 season.

Fogarty and Gurney dominated the 82-lap race, falling out of the lead only as the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Antonio Garcia crossed the stripe in pit lane on Lap 34 during the race's second caution following a spin by Matt Connolly in the No. 31 Pontiac Chase. The No. 99 left the pits in the lead and Gurney beat fellow championship contender Max Angelelli to the green flag by 1.757 seconds.

The weekend was one for the record books for the No. 99, who set a track record in Friday's qualifying session with their seventh consecutive pole position -- also a Rolex Series record. With the win, Gurney and Fogarty tied Terry Borcheller's seven wins in the 2003 season for most in a year. The win also completed a season-sweep of Watkins Glen, including a win at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.

Fogarty used his opening stint of the race to hand the car to co-driver Gurney with a lead during the early pit stop. At times, Fogarty opened up more than a five second lead.

"It's kind of interesting because we ran all day yesterday with practice sessions, but today, all we did was the race," Fogarty said of the evening race, the only appearance on track today for the Rolex Series. "We had to wait for the (NASCAR Nextel) Cup cars and through the rain, so it was a little bit of a guess to which we should run. But, we nailed it. The car was really good on the out laps, similar to what I did in qualifying. I turned it on from the get go. I ran a consistent pace and brought the car back in one piece."

Three full course cautions for 13 laps slowed the race's pace to 112.322 mph and bunched the field, but no one was able to capitalize on the restarts to seriously pose a threat to Fogarty and Gurney.

"It seemed like our car was the best on the restarts," Gurney said. "The car was there. It was a perfect day for the team. Jon qualified the car and smoked everybody, and did a perfect job during his stint. We had a good pit stop at the 45-minute mark, and I was a little worried with the guys behind me -- Max (Angelelli), Scott (Pruett), Colin (Braun). These guys are the toughest guys out there."

Despite the performance, Gurney and Fogarty still sit behind Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley and Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing Lexus Riley for the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championship. Angelelli and Pruett are currently tied for the lead at 354 points after both finished on the podium, with Gurney and Fogarty just four points in arrears with two races remaining.

Angelelli and co-driver Memo Gidley didn't have enough to catch the No. 99 GAINSCO machine, but each overcame their own tight moments to earn the runner-up finish. Gidley has confirmed his "super-sub" career reputation by stepping into the No. 10 in a replacement role during Angelelli's hunt for the championship. Gidley's eye-opening experience came on Lap 16, as he brushed the side of a spinning Connolly. However, the potentially championship-ending incident didn't seem to slow the No. 10 machine at all.

"The car felt really good after that," said Gidley following the early-race incident. "I started coming around, and the Pontiac was wicked fast. I was really happy with the stint. I just wish I could have gotten around (No. 75 Krohn Racing driver) Nic Jonsson for second there; we were looking really good racing with him."

Angelelli's moments came during race's final three laps. A final caution period to retrieve Burt Frisselle and the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Lexus Riley from the gravel trap in near the inner loop chicane, bunched the field with 10 laps remaining. Angelelli sat sandwiched between Gurney and Colin Braun in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. Braun caught and passed Angelelli, but the real fireworks began as the duo crossed under the waving white flag signaling the race's final lap.

With the pair swapping paint down the front straightaway, Angelelli pulled slightly ahead entering the first turn. With Braun trying to hang on through the turn, the last bit of contact between the two spun Braun. Angelelli continued on, completing the race in second.

"I was really mad when I got out of the car," Angelelli said. "It really made me angry when he went around me. I just couldn't stand for that and I went into turn one and passed him back. He spun after that and I think that was his just reward. We had the best car that we have had all year. I was able to gain a little on the No. 99, but just could not get a run on him. We are tied for the points lead now, which is great for the whole team."

Pruett and teammate Memo Rojas recovered from what began as a potentially poor weekend to finish third, leaving Pruett still clinging to a share of the championship lead. Pruett slammed the Turn 11 wall in Thursday's practice session, but the TELMEX team pieced the car back together in enough time for Rojas to qualify in 14th position. The start was the lowest of the season for the No. 01 team, forcing Rojas to take the responsibility of climbing through the field while avoiding the danger that comes with a closely bunched field.

"I kind of had to weave through some early incidents, trying to keep the car out of trouble," Rojas said. "The key for me was to make up as many positions as I could. There was some pressure under those circumstances, but we moved up as quickly as we could. I'm just happy to be here tonight."

Rojas handed the car to Pruett on Lap 31, as the veteran racer climbed through the field. Pruett spent his entire stint in the top five, and capitalized on Braun's last lap spin to finish on the podium and remain atop the championship.

"We're just doing every thing we can," Pruett said. "We had a flawless spot. Memo did a great job. I just drove 11 tenths the entire time; I drove like it was qualifying. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. The 99 is making it very difficult right now, and we've been racing against the No. 10 for three years.

With just two races remaining, the 2004 Daytona Prototype Champion knows the heat is on all of the championship contenders to perform.

"This is the toughest I've seen Grand-Am," Pruett said. "When the music stops, who is going to be the fastest to sit? Everybody is going to give it their all, and shoot for the championship. No question, Sonoma is going to be tough, but I see this going down to the last lap of the last race."

Storming through the field near the finish was Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley, who claimed the team's second straight top-five finish with co-driver Jim Matthews. After starting a season-best seventh, Matthews held strong in the top 10 before handing the car off near the 45-minute mark. Goossens reentered the race outside the top 10, but pedaled through the field, and gained two spots in the final 10 laps for the final finishing position. The performance allowed Goosens to climb from 12th in the championship race to the top-10.

Rounding out the top five were David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Red Bull Porsche Riley. The pair started the race at the tail of the field following an engine change Friday morning, but battled through the field and was in the top five after the first and only round of pit stops. Donohue, who drove the second stint, fell slightly through the field to sixth but landed fifth when Braun spun on the final lap.

Braun and No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley co-driver Nic Jonsson were credited with an 11th place finish after the spin. Nineteen of the 21 starters completed the race.

The Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class resumes action Aug. 25 at the Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 on the 2.52-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

NOTEWORTHY: Fittipaldi and No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar co-driver Antonio Garcia had another strong appearance, taking seventh. It marked the second straight race the car has led at least one lap... Patrick Long and Emmanuel Collard earned the "SunTrust Improve Your Position Award" by moving from 20th to ninth -- 11 spots -- in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford... Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami co-winners Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff scored their best finish since their March victory with a sixth-place showing in the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport Dinan BMW Riley. Alhadeff qualified the car 15th, and Auberlen breezed through to the duo's final position... After spinning out on Lap 50, Oswaldo Negri took the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley, co-driven by Mark Patterson, to eighth place. Negri was attempting to pass Michael Valiante when he spun in Turn 1, losing several spots. Valiante, in the No. 19 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley co-driven by Rob Finlay, also spun in a separate incident later before finishing 10th... Jim Matthews earned the "Jim Trueman Award" for sportsman driver after co-driving to fourth... Twelve of the 21 entries finished on the lead lap and 19 cars finished the race. The only cars not to finish were No. 11 SAMAX El Dorado/AJ's Outdoor Power Equipment Pontiac Riley co-drivers Kris Szekeres and Tomas Enge (engine) and No. 31 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac Chase co-drivers Matt Connolly and Mike Halpin (engine).

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Alex Job Racing , Michael Shank Racing