Watkins Glen: Race report

Watkins Glen: Race report
Jun 21, 2004, 6:16 AM

Papis and Pruett Battle Back From Two Laps Down To Win Second Straight Rolex Series Race at Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 20, 2004) -- No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis overcame a ...

Papis and Pruett Battle Back From Two Laps Down To Win Second Straight Rolex Series Race at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 20, 2004) -- No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis overcame a sticking throttle that dropped Papis two laps behind the leaders in the first hour and benefited from outstanding service from their crew to score their second consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series victory today in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

With Pruett behind the wheel, the No. 01 Daytona Prototype claimed the lead from No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli when the polesitter made a Lap 133 pit stop. Pruett retained the lead following his final pit stop of the 164-lap race on Lap 139 to win by 27.016 seconds over Angelelli.

"We had a great finish, just purely through hard work," Pruett said. "We were two laps down and we were just hoping for a top-five. I still can't believe we finished up here. (The weekend) was a train wreck. I thought we had things behind us by the time the green flag fell. Unfortunately, there was one more bad thing that happened to us because we broke a half-shaft, we had a stuck throttle, we just weren't happy with it. Literally, I thought this was going to be a terrible weekend right up until the end."

The No. 01 teammates became the first drivers to score multiple overall victories in Rolex Series competition this season, snapping a streak of four consecutive races in which a different team took the overall victory. Nevertheless, the streak tied the previous record of four different winners in-a-row from 2000 and 2001. With the victory, Pruett and Papis extended the lead they share in the driver standings to 14 points (151-137) over Angelelli and Taylor after five of 12 races.

"It was very special to be able to come from the back and win the race," Papis said. "I think believing in yourself makes all the difference. Everyone on the team has great belief that we can be champions."

Angelelli and Taylor combined to lead six times for a race-high total of 63 laps, and appeared to have the strongest car in the field through the first five hours of the race. In the final hour, however, the No. 10 made two scheduled pit stops for fuel that proved to be the difference in the race.

"They had called me in because we were getting low on fuel," said Angelelli, "so we lost the race."

"I think we had the fastest car, but it didn't matter when it counted," Taylor added. "I think pulling everyone together will give us what we want to attempt quickly. The guys all did a good job and I am disappointed."

Filling out the podium were Mexican rookies Luis Diaz and Jimmy Morales in the No. 02 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, who shared a career-best third-place result. It was the first time CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing has ever had two cars finish on the podium in Rolex Series competition. It was also the first time that two cars from the same team finished on the podium since the No. 58 and 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcars finished 1-2 at Mont-Tremblant in 2003.

"It wasn't too bad and the car is very good, so it turned out really well," Diaz said. "I had a flat tire and then a penalty, but it turned out for the best."

"We kept on digging all day long to get closer to the race," contributed Morales. "If it wasn't for the penalty, I think we would have been closer to first place -- but next time."

The No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford with co-drivers Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger--who led twice for 14 laps--finished fourth, and Jan Magnussen and Didier Theys co-piloted the No. 27 Doran-Lista Racing Lexus Doran to a fifth place result.

The race featured 16 lead changes among six cars, and eight different drivers took a turn at the head of the field. There were 10 full-course caution periods for a total of 32 laps, but no drivers were injured in any of the day's incidents.


In another dominating performance, No. 21 Performance Technology Group BMW M3 co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Boris Said led the GT category through virtually all six hours and finished two laps ahead of the No. 30 Risi Competizione Ferrari 360GT shared by Anthony Lazzaro, Ralf Kelleners and Philip Bennett to earn the class victory. The No. 44 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS of Joe and Jay Policastro and Mike Fitzgerald was third.

"We were just cruising," Auberlen said. "Second place was cruising, so it gave us a nice big gap for breathing. The BMW M3 was absolutely perfect. Pit stops were perfect, my teammates were perfect, and the car was perfect. You can't have a better day. It makes up for all the bad times we've had here."

The triumph was the fourth straight for the No. 21 teammates, and allowed Said to retain his three-point lead over Auberlen in the GT driver standings after five of 12 events.

"The track's in great, great shape, good fans, and I love coming here," commented Said. "Hopefully it will treat me this good in August."


While the championship-leading No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup shared by co-drivers Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas was removed from contention for the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class win in a crash during the first hour, their teammates in the No. 38 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup - Marc Bunting and Andy Lally -- earned their first class victory in Rolex Series competition despite getting caught up in a dustup of their own just past the one-hour mark.

"It was a tough race," Bunting said. "Obviously we had some setbacks early on, but the crew did a great job. There's nothing better than being on the top of the podium at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen."

Bunting and Lally finished one lap ahead of their TPC Racing teammates in the No. 37 Porsche GT3 Cup, Spencer Pumpelly and John Littlechild. The No. 71 Doncaster Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Dave Lacey, Greg Wilkins and Jean-Francois Dumoulin was third.

The victory combined with Pobst and Levitas' misfortune also moved Bunting and Lally into the SGS points lead. It was the fifth consecutive race in which the No. 38 teammates finished on the podium, while this was the first time this season that Pobst and Levitas failed to finish inside the top-two positions in SGS.

"There were just some crazy moments out there and we got through all but one of them," Lally said. "Everything was pretty good. The car was just super solid and now we have taken the points lead in the championship and so that is solid. We are just looking to build on that and making that margin even bigger."


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