Watkins Glen III: Synergy Racing race report

Synergy Racing's Stanton holds points lead despite costly Crown Royal 250 Watkins Glen, N.Y. (September 24, 2005) -- The Crown Royal 250 at The Glen proved to be a costly race for Synergy Racing in its quest for Rolex Sports Car Series GT ...

Synergy Racing's Stanton holds points lead despite costly Crown Royal 250

Watkins Glen, N.Y. (September 24, 2005) -- The Crown Royal 250 at The Glen proved to be a costly race for Synergy Racing in its quest for Rolex Sports Car Series GT championship. After consistently finishing in top six at every race this season, points-leader Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.) was a victim in a massive multi-car pile-up in the esses that resulted in a disappointing 12th-place finish and narrowed his points lead to only five points.

Stanton's Rx.com No. 80 Porsche GT3 Cup was fifth behind the safety car when it brought the field to the green flag following the fourth full-course caution of the race. He moved aside to allow a contingent of Daytona Prototypes to pass and race to catch up with four in front of him, but the pack of Daytona Prototypes became entangled in a chain reaction of accidents that started in turn one and ended with numerous cars in pieces at the exit of the esses.

Stanton was the first GT entry to come upon the huge pile-up, and he quickly darted to the left in hopes of squeezing by, but Darren Law's No. 58 Daytona Prototype was hit for the third or fourth time and spun into the Rx.com Porsche, causing major damage radiator, suspension and body damage.

"I hate to be a whiner, but those DP drivers really need to control themselves. It's gets really thin at the top of the esses, you know. There was nowhere to go," said Stanton upon exiting the Rx.com Porsche.

"Some of these guys need to settle down and really learn race craft. We're out for a championship. We're just getting out there for points," he continued shaking his head.

Unlike many of the cars in the incident, Stanton was able to limp the points-leading entry around the track to the pits so the Synergy crew could immediately begin repairs. Because it took such a long time to clear the track following the accident, the team did not lose as many laps as the crew worked feverishly to repair the Rx.com No. 80 Porsche and return it to the track with David Murry (Atlanta, Ga.) at the wheel.

"The Synergy guys really got after it today. They saw what happened on the television monitors, and were ready for Craig when he brought the Rx.com Porsche into the pits," said Murry. "Not only did they get the car running again, but I was able to go out and turn competitive lap times to make sure we didn't lose any more positions."

While Stanton's largest rival in the driver championship heading into the Crown Royal 250 also had trouble during the race, finishing one place behind the Rx.com Porsche in 13th, a new threat emerged in the championship race. Andy Lally and Marc Bunting were fairly unscathed during the race and went on to win the GT class, allowing them to gain 16 points on Stanton and move to within only five points of the leader. Murry remained third in the points, now tied with Joey Hand, who slid back one spot. The unfortunate events also cost Synergy its 10-point lead in the team standings, sliding to second place, six points behind Lally and Bunting's TRG entry.

Frisselles take 14th after fighting for lead

Unlike his teammate, rookie driver Brian Frisselle (Aventura, Fla.) had better luck when he darted the Rx.com No. 8 BMW Doran to the left to avoid the multi-car pile-up in the esses.

"I came up the hill on the restart, and all I could see was smoke and cars spinning into the wall, so I just squeezed as far left as fast as I could, and fortunately I missed the whole thing," said 21-year-old Brian. "It was just like Days of Thunder!"

Brian was not the only Frisselle brother showing impressive moves at The Glen on Saturday. His older brother Burt started the Rx.com Daytona Prototype from the second row and was chasing the lead from second position just over 10 laps into the race.

"The car was really quick, but it was early in the race and I didn't want to try to force a pass and risk having something happen," said Burt. "There were sections where he was quicker, and some where I was faster, so I just kept on his bumper and tried to save tires for the end of my run."

A full-course caution saw the Rx.com machine come into the pits for a new set of Hoosiers and a refuel, as Burt rejoined the field in 10th and was quickly back up into the top five once the race went green again.

Burt turned the car over to his younger brother on lap 40 during another caution period, and it was on that restart that Brian showed his impressive avoidance skills. Unfortunately, the ensuing yellow flag was a lengthy one, and Brian was forced to turn the car back over to Burt after suffering from the effects of the fumes inside the car during two long back-to-back full-course cautions.

"I am really disappointed that I had to get out of the car," said Brian. "Burt had done a great job, and we were definitely on-track for a good top-10 finish with the Rx.com car, but I just had to get out of the car."

Burt was able to rejoin the pack and once again began picking off positions, but time ran out as the two came home a disappointed 14th at the checkered flag.

Bad day on track and at home for Van Wijk

Racing has been somewhat secondary for Mae Van Wijk (Houston, Texas) this weekend as she watched Hurricane Rita approach her Texas home where her mother and brother remained. While Houston was spared a direct hit from the hurricane, Van Wijk discovered Saturday before the start of the Crown Royal 250 that her parents' home sustained substantial damage when a tree fell on it during the storm, though thankfully no one was injured.

Unfortunately Van Wijk's day did not get much better when she got into her No. 81 Porsche GT3 Cup sponsored by autobysite.com and pipeservicestt.com. After turning her fastest lap of the race on lap nine, Van Wijk never got a chance to complete lap 10 as she pulled the Porsche off track into the grass where it remained motionless. A full course caution came out to allow safety crews to tow the No. 81 machine back to the pits where the Synergy crew discovered differential and transmission trouble would put an end to her race. Once again the Crown Royal 250 proved costly for Synergy, as Van Wijk's early exit most likely put her out contention for the Bob Akin Award she has been pursuing all season.

-sr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers David Murry , Joey Hand , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Craig Stanton , Marc Bunting , Mae Van Wijk , Bob Akin , Brian Frisselle