Watkins Glen III: Round 12 preview

Angelelli & Taylor Look For Second Straight Watkins Glen Win in Crown Royal 250 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 20, 2005) -- Armed with a sturdy lead in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype driver standings, No. 10...

Angelelli & Taylor Look For Second Straight Watkins Glen Win in Crown Royal 250

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 20, 2005) -- Armed with a sturdy lead in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype driver standings, No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor head back to upstate New York for the third and final time this weekend looking for their second consecutive victory at Watkins Glen International in Saturday's Crown Royal 250 at The Glen (SPEED Channel, Live, 3:00 p.m. ET).

In addition to leading the Daytona Prototype point standings, Angelelli and Taylor also lead the Rolex Series with four victories, the last of which came in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen in August. The SunTrust duo opened the year with back-to-back wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Grand Prix of Miami, and also added a victory in July's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park prior to their triumph at The Glen.

While Taylor and Angelelli might find some comfort in their points lead--and the fact that they have finished on the podium in each of their past five starts--anything can happen as the Rolex Series visits the historic Watkins Glen circuit for Round 12 of the 14-race championship.

Defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett and his No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-driver Luis Diaz will be looking for revenge after a disappointing outing at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago. Despite the fact that the No. 01 teammates combined to lead a race-high 58 laps in the Racetickets.com 250 at PIR, Pruett and Diaz came away with a 16th place result as Pruett was removed from contention following contact from behind by Michael McDowell in the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley.

Nevertheless, Pruett and Diaz remain the closest challengers to Taylor and Angelelli, trailing the No. 10 teammates by a margin of 36 points (344-308) heading to a track where the No. 01 team has had considerable success. In the car's four visits to Watkins Glen since the beginning of the 2004 season, the No. 01 Lexus Riley has not finished lower than fifth and won the 2004 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Should Taylor and Angelelli stumble this weekend while Diaz and Pruett add a third win to a season in which they previously won at California Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the title chase could take on a whole new light.

Another driving duo looking for a bit of revenge might be No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson with Howard-Boss Motorsports. Leitzinger and EFR have also won twice this season, in June's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway and in the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month, but the Racetickets.com 250 may have been one that got away.

While leading within the final hour at PIR, Leitzinger spun following contact from behind by Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley. Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson rebounded to score a third-place result and maintain their fifth-place tie in the Daytona Prototype standings, but a Crown Royal 250 triumph might go a long way to ease the sting of what might have been in Phoenix.

After a season's worth of near misses, Germany's Jorg Bergmeister finally visited Victory Lane for the first time as a Daytona Prototype driver in the Racetickets.com 250 alongside co-driver Christian Fittipaldi. Bergmeister will be looking for two-in-a-row at Watkins Glen and will share the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley this weekend with 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis.

Watkins Glen has been good to Bergmeister and the entire Krohn Racing/TRG team thus far in 2005, as Bergmeister and Fittipaldi finished second in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June and the same duo finished third in August's CompUSA 200. The No. 66 team finished second in the six-hour race to their teammates, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson in the No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, and Krohn and Jonsson will team up once again for the Crown Royal 250 as they look for "bookend" victories at Watkins Glen.

Another team looking for a second victory in 2005 will be Milka Duno and Andy Wallace in the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. Although both drivers have already been mathematically eliminated from title consideration, Duno and Wallace combined with Jan Lammers to win May's 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant, and a second win this weekend would make 2005 another successful year for the CITGO co-drivers.

Bergmeister and Fittipaldi became the sixth different set of co-drivers to win a Rolex Series race in 2005 with their Phoenix triumph, tying the record for most different winners in a single season established last year. However, there are plenty of competitors that will be looking to break the record this weekend.

No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley co-drivers Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner could be prime candidates for a record-breaking performance. The Chip Ganassi Racing duo has finished inside the top seven positions in eight of their 11 starts this season, topped by a best performance of second in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

Another team to watch will be the No. 19 BMW Riley pairing of Memo Gidley and Michael Valiante, who is standing in for McDowell this weekend at Finlay Motorsports. McDowell was suspended for the Crown Royal 250 last week in the wake of several on-track incidents, including his run-in with Pruett at Phoenix. However, McDowell and Gidley have combined to finish a season-best second at Barber Motorsports Park, and the duo has finished inside the top seven in seven of 11 starts. Valiante, meanwhile, led 22 laps at California Speedway in April and could score a breakthrough win this weekend alongside Gidley.

On the heels of a second-place run in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen, No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley co-drivers Alex Gurney and Bob Stallings also merit watching this weekend. The No. 99 has been lightning-fast since joining the Rolex Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and a victory by Gurney and Stallings would certainly not come as a surprise.

Michael Shank Racing could also find victory lane with either one of its two entries this weekend. Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. will once again co-drive the team's No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley, while Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson have teamed up in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley. With a victory at Watkins Glen in 2004 and a pole for the CompUSA 200 in August, Doran Racing also rate among the contenders this weekend with Italians Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin co-driving the team's No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran.

No Daytona Prototype field at Watkins Glen is complete without the two-car assault from Brumos Racing, which is owned by Elmira, N.Y. native Bob Snodgrass. Co-driving the team's No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar will be David Donohue and Darren Law, while sports car legend Hurley Haywood will share the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar with JC France.

Further strengthening the Daytona Prototype entry this weekend will be Chris Bingham, Hugo Guenette and Jacques Guenette Sr. in the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software/Key Bank/McDonald Financial Group Pontiac Riley for CB Motorsports, Doug Goad and Marc-Antoine Camirand in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing/Spiralz Custom Jewelry Pontiac Crawford, Burt and Brian Frisselle in the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran, Brian Tuttle and series newcomer Bas Leinders co-driving the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley, Harrison Brix and New Yorkers Rob and Chris Dyson in the No. 06 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports, the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford of Daytona Prototype first-timers Patrick Long and Pat Flanagan, and Shane Lewis and Darius Grala in the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley with Southard Motorsports.

In the GT class, No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup driver Craig Stanton maintains his position atop the driver point standings. However, while Stanton and co-driver David Murry search for their first class victory of the season, the battle for race victories has centered on teams using the BMW M3 and the Pontiac GTO.R.

In the last time out at Phoenix, Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards co-drove the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R to its second victory of the season after scoring a maiden triumph in the CompUSA 200 at The Glen. Magnussen and Edwards would love to make it two-in-a-row this weekend, and will be joined in a two-car TRG attack by the formidable combination of Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the No. 65 Pontiac GTO.R.

If Stanton and Murry or either one of the Pontiac GTO.Rs are to take the class win in the Crown Royal 250, they will have to overcome BMW Team PTG, which has claimed victories with three of its four cars this season. Joey Hand and Justin Marks have been the team's most successful driver pairing, as both drivers have three class victories. They will be reunited in the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3, while RJ Valentine will share the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3 with Kelly Collins. Co-driving the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3 for BMW Team PTG will be two-time GT champion Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner, and Chris Gleason and Ian James complete the lineup in the No. 22 BMW Financial Services M3.

The GT field is strengthened by a host of additional Porsche GT3s, as well two more Pontiac GTOs, and the brand-new No. 34 Canadian All American Racing Pontiac Grand-Am to be co-driven by John Shreiner and Zave Aberman.

The Crown Royal 250 weekend gets underway on Thursday, September 22 with Rolex Series GT practice beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET, followed by an hour-long session for both Rolex Series classes from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and a Daytona Prototype-only session from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Friday's schedule will see both Rolex Series classes on track for practice from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m. ET, followed by a second practice from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. ET. The Rolex Series GT machines take to the track for qualifying from 4:15 to 4:30 p.m., and the Daytona Prototype qualifying session completes the day's activities with a 15-minute session beginning at 4:40 p.m. ET.

Saturday's race day schedule calls for a 30-minute final practice session for the Rolex Series beginning at 8:45 a.m. ET, and the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen will take the green flag shortly after 3:00 p.m. ET. The race's scheduled distance is 74 laps (251.6 miles) but is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.

SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of the Crown Royal 250 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage from throughout the weekend, including live timing & scoring data and an audio web cast, is available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com. <pre> EVENT SCHEDULE

Thursday, September 22 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series GT 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes

Friday, September 23 9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Practice -- Rolex Series 4:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series GT 4:40 p.m. - 4:55 p.m. Qualifying -- Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes

Saturday, September 24 8:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Final practice -- Rolex Series 3:00 p.m START -- Rolex Series race (251.6 miles/74 laps/2¾-hour time limit)

*All Times Subject To Change


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