Watkins Glen III: Race report

Angelelli & Taylor Extend Daytona Prototype Points Lead with Crown Royal 250 at The Glen Victory WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (September 24, 2005) -- No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor took another giant step towards...

Angelelli & Taylor Extend Daytona Prototype Points Lead with Crown Royal 250 at The Glen Victory

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (September 24, 2005) -- No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor took another giant step towards the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype title by scoring their series-leading fifth victory of the season in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen on Saturday afternoon.

Angelelli took advantage of great pit work from his SunTrust crew to take the lead with 27 laps remaining and held off several late challenges from Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to win by 0.473 seconds. Angelelli had his hands full throughout the race's final laps, as he was unable to see Pruett behind him owing to the fact that the car had lost both of its mirrors earlier in the race.

The Italian also managed to keep the lead despite the fact that a woodchuck ran directly into the path of the No. 10 machine on the back straightaway with three laps remaining. The resulting contact destroyed the car's right headlight and also did minor damage to the bodywork on the right front of the car. Angelelli later explained that he actually lost the 1996 Macau Grand Prix Formula 3 race after he struck an animal on-course, and was afraid that the same thing would happen in the Crown Royal 250.

"All I saw was this black thing, and I couldn't understand what it was," Angelelli said. "When I hit it, I thought it should have been bigger because it was big hit. It moved the car, and the steering wheel. I had nothing at the end, and I'm sure Scott pushed it just as hard as me. This race was really tough, but it was for the championship and this was a win we really, really wanted."

With the victory, Angelelli and Taylor extended their lead in the Daytona Prototype driver standings to 39 points, 379-340, over Pruett and his No. 01 Lexus co-driver, Luis Diaz. If the SunTrust teammates extend or maintain their lead following the VIR 400 in two weeks, they will share their first Daytona Prototype title. It was the team's second-straight victory at Watkins Glen International, and was their first win since a triumph in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen last month. With a total of eight victories, Angelelli and Taylor also moved atop the all-time Daytona Prototype win list ahead of 2003 champion Terry Borcheller.

"Watkins Glen is always a favorite because there are true road race fans out here," Taylor said. "We did plan to follow the No. 01, but we really thought Scott was going to get in the car. Then it turned out that it was the best decision that we made. For (Riley Technologies owner) Bill Riley and the guys today, that pit stop when Scott changed with Luis and Max came in for fuel and tires played a big role in the outcome of the race. A lot of credit needs to go to those guys."

After starting from the pole position, Diaz led the first 11 laps before making a pit stop under full-course caution on Lap 11. The Mexican quickly worked his way back toward the front following the stop and returned to the top five on Lap 22, where the No. 01 machine would remain for the rest of the race. Diaz turned the car over to Pruett under a full-course caution pit stop on Lap 41, and Pruett rejoined the race in second place behind Angelelli in the No. 10 machine where he would finish.

"There were a few places where I could pull up to them, but I just couldn't get there," Pruett said. "This track is so fast, I would get up to him, but I couldn't keep the nose going. Unfortunately, we had some contact after the checkered (flag), but it was an honest mistake. He didn't have any mirrors, and when I went up to give him a thumbs up, he drove me off the track. There was more contact after the checkered than before, but it was a great race. I agree with Wayne, that pit stop was pivotal and they did a great job. I have to take my hat off to them. "

It was the 12th time in as many races this season that the driver who led the opening lap has not gone on to win the race. Nevertheless, it was the sixth podium finish of the season for Diaz and Pruett, and was their 11th top-seven performance in 12 races.

"It was very important for us to win this race, and unfortunately the traffic didn't help me," Diaz said. "When I was fighting with Bergmeister, he blocked me a little bit and Max (Angelelli) passed me. They did a great job. We did everything we could to win this race, but sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. We still have more to go, and we're going to be there."

While Pruett and Angelelli fought it out for the victory, Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Alex Gurney had an even tighter battle for third place just a few hundred yards behind the leaders. Negri--driving the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing--dueled with Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley as the race reached its conclusion. The battle was cut short, however, when Gurney's car experienced a fuel system failure just three laps shy of the checkered flag.

Gurney's misfortune allowed Negri to claim the final podium position for himself and co-driver Mark Patterson. It was a Rolex Series career-best result for Patterson, and was Negri's best finish since a second-place performance in the 200-mile event at Watkins Glen in August, 2004. Gurney and co-driver Bob Stallings wound up 11th.

Terry Borcheller--the 2003 Daytona Prototype co-champion--joined forces with Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette to give CB Motorsports its best-ever Daytona Prototype result with a fourth-place run in the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software/Key Bank/McDonald Financial Group Pontiac Riley. Memo Gidley and co-driver Michael Valiante brought the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley home to its sixth top-five result of the season with a fifth-place showing. Valiante was standing-in at Finlay Motorsports for regular driver Michael McDowell, who served a one-race suspension for a series of on-track incidents this season.

Jorg Bergmeister led nine laps aboard the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, and was looking for his second consecutive Rolex Series victory in the Crown Royal 250 after winning in Phoenix two weeks ago. Bergmeister handed his car off to Papis in a pit stop under full-course caution on Lap 40. On the ensuing restart, Papis tangled with Butch Leitzinger in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford in Turn 1, which removed the nose from Leitzinger's car and flattened the right-rear tire of the No. 66 machine.

In Turn 4 on the same lap, Papis was able to drive away from what would become a five-car accident, but the resulting damage from both incidents removed the No. 66 from the race and Bergmeister from consideration for the Daytona Prototype title. Papis and Bergmeister were credited with a 17th place result in the Daytona Prototype class and 30th place overall.

For the third time in the last four races, the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran found its way to the head of the field, this time in the hands of Matteo Bobbi. The Italian led Laps 12 through 30 before handing the car over to his co-driver and countryman, Fabrizio Gollin, on a Lap 40 pit stop. Gollin, however, was one of five drivers involved in the Lap 44 incident in Turn 4. He and all of the drivers involved escaped injury, but Gollin and Bobbi wound up 19th in the Daytona Prototype class and 32nd overall.

BUNTING AND LALLY PICK PERFECT DAY TO CLAIM GT CLASS WIN

After watching their TRG teammates win in the No. 64 Pontiac GTO.R last time at Watkins Glen in August and the last race at Phoenix, Andy Lally and Marc Bunting knew it was only a matter of time before their brand-new No. 65 GTO.R crossed the finish line first in class. Fittingly, Lally crossed the stripe just ahead of Jan Magnussen in the No. 64 machine to take the GT victory in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen.

In a race that saw six full-course cautions, Bunting and Lally avoided major trouble to log their second GT victory of the season--and ninth top-10 finish--but their first win in the GTO.R they debuted at Daytona International Speedway in July. However, it wasn't completely smooth sailing for the No. 65 duo, as Bunting slid off-course in Turn 9 and scraped the tire wall on the first lap.

"It was a busy start, there was a lot of traffic, and there were a lot of people trying to get by," Bunting said. "I got forced off-line by someone and they got me into the marbles. We had some contact with the tire wall. Fortunately the Pontiac is built strong. When I hit that wall, I didn't expect to be here at the end of the race. The car was good for Andy and it was good for me."

Bunting spent the remainder of his stint making up positions before handing the car over to Lally on Lap 15 for what would be an eventful double stint. Just after making his final pit stop of the afternoon under full-course caution on Lap 41, Lally found his way past a slowing Magnussen for second place at almost the same time as five cars tangled in Turn 4.

It would become the decisive pass in the race, as a late pit stop by leader Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 36 Ajilon Consulting/TPC Superchargers Porsche GT3 Cup handed the lead to Lally. Despite Magnussen's best efforts in the closing laps, he would come no closer than three-tenths of a second at the finish, and Bunting and Lally made it three wins in the last four races for a Pontiac GTO.R. Even more importantly, the victory moved Lally and Bunting to within just five points (323-318) of GT championship leader Craig Stanton with two races remaining on the schedule.

"We had it set up where Magnussen wasn't going to take too many chances," Lally said. "I saw Spencer Pumpelly coming and he was coming fast, so we just held it on. Jan watched my back a little bit, and they knew where we were in the points. I have to say thanks to them, it was a whole team effort and these guys did really good job. It was a solid effort by all. It has turned our points championship around."

For Magnussen and Edwards, it was their third top-two finish in their past four starts, and was their fourth top-five showing in the five Rolex Series races they've run this season. A late-race caution was the only thing that slowed TRG's two Pontiac GTO.Rs from cruising to the finish line of the historic Watkins Glen track and to the cars' third GT win in six weeks of Rolex Series competition -- a run that has included nine top-five results in 11 finishes.

"I was in the car for an hour and 40 minutes and I think I did 10 green laps," said Magnussen. "It was actually a pretty easy race. Paul and the guys did a good job testing last week and it showed right from the first session, and the car was noticeably better."

"I was glad to see the No. 65 guys win the race," Edwards added. "For us, it was a great TRG result. We're looking forward to going to the next race."

Pumpelly and co-driver Randy Pobst wound up third in the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche, followed by Ian James and Chris Gleason in the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3 for BMW Team PTG. Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine made it two PTG machines inside the top five with a fifth-place outing in the No. 17 F1 BMW M3.

Aside from Bunting and Lally, it was a tough day for the front runners in the GT driver standings. No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 driver Joey Hand slipped from sole possession of second place in the standings to a tie for fourth with David Murry, following a 13th-place class result. Hand joined the race several laps down after co-driver Justin Marks crashed in Turn 11 on Lap 4.

Stanton, meanwhile, started 10th in class in the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 10th and remained in position to score solid points before handing the car over to co-driver Murry on Lap 28. Murry found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he was involved in a five-car accident on Lap 44. However, Murry was able to limp the car back to its pit and returned to the track for a 12th place class finish and kept Stanton atop the points table.

NOTEBOOK

With two races remaining and a maximum of 70 points still available, the only drivers still in mathematical contention for the Daytona Prototype championship are Angelelli, Taylor, Diaz, Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger. The Howard-Boss Motorsports teammates trail points co-leaders Angelelli and Taylor by 62 points and are 23 in arrears of Diaz and Pruett following a 15th place class result in the Crown Royal 250... Brian Tuttle and co-driver Bas Leinders brought the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley home to its best-ever Rolex Series result. The team's previous best showing was a ninth-place run by Tuttle and Jonathan Cochet in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio last year... Earlier in the Crown Royal 250 weekend, officials from Watkins Glen International and Grand American announced that the Rolex Series will return to The Glen for a pair of events in 2006. The Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen will run in connection with the IRL IndyCar Series on June 2-3, and the Rolex Series returns for the Daytona Prototype-only Crown Royal 200 on August 10-11.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Bingham , Hugo Guénette , Jonathan Cochet , Alex Gurney , Fabrizio Gollin , Jan Magnussen , Butch Leitzinger , Memo Gidley , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , David Murry , Michael Valiante , Joey Hand , Randy Pobst , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Ian James , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Jörg Bergmeister , Michael McDowell , Matteo Bobbi , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Chris Gleason , Spencer Pumpelly , Craig Stanton , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Bas Leinders , Mark Patterson , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Michael Shank Racing