Watkins Glen race report

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2001) -- Dyson Racing Team earned its second-straight victory in the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen International. The rivalry at The Glen between Dyson and Doran Lista Racing was evident as Dyson's ...

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2001) -- Dyson Racing Team earned its second-straight victory in the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen International. The rivalry at The Glen between Dyson and Doran Lista Racing was evident as Dyson's #16 Thetford/Norcold/Goodyear-sponsored Ford-powered Riley & Scott lined up beside Doran's #27 LISTA/Yokohama-sponsored #27 Judd-engined Ferrari on the front row to start the race. Englishman James Weaver sat in the Ford in the outside pole position, but quickly moved into the lead as the course went green.

However, Monoco's Mauro Baldi briefly moved the Ferrari back into the lead five laps later before it got into the back of G&W Motorsports #81 Motorola/CommScope/Valley Group-sponsored Porsche GT3 R heading into turn 15. The Porsche spun out, narrowly missing the wall, while the Ferrari sustained nose damage, sending it into the pits.

Weaver moved back into the lead before the start/finish line, denying Baldi credit for the lap. The Dyson machine stayed out in front for the remained of the race, except for a brief time under caution when it came in for a driver change. Butch Leitzinger, of State College, Pa., had little trouble holding onto the lead in the final stint, as the Dyson team cruised to its fourth victory of the season.

One of the more exciting battles came in the GT class, as Randy Pobst, of Melbourne, Fla., started in the class pole position and led the field in the Fordahl Motorsports/Crazy Redhead Racing #15 Porsche GT3 RS for 44 laps until he lost a tire in turn one. The Porsche went sailing across the gravel pit and into the foam wall. Although Pobst was able to drive the car back around the track to the pits, it dropped bodywork and fluid on the track as it limped around. The damage was too severe to continue, and for the second race this year, the Porsche's quest for a victory at The Glen was ended due to an accident.

Spencer Pumpelly, of Mason Neck, Va., moved the Zip/Pumpelly Racing #34 Alliance Residential Management-sponsored #34 Porsche GT3 R in to the GT class lead, followed by Winston Cup driver John Andretti in Orbit Racing's #45 Porsche GT3 R. The two exchanged the lead several times throughout the race, with Pumpelly inadvertently bumping Andretti off the racetrack during a pass. The incident moved Pumpelly into the lead for the checkered flag.

However, after speaking to both drivers and reviewing tapes of the incident, race officials decided the contact between the cars during the pass was inappropriate, and the Zip/Pumpelly machine was penalized 10 seconds. Since the Porsche's margin of victory had only been five seconds, the Andretti-and Petty-driven Orbit Porsche moved into the class' top position.

The excitement of the race was not limited to the GT class, as the SportsRacing Prototype II class also spiced things up. Andy Lally, of Northpoint, N.Y., and Bruno St. Jacques, of Montreal, battled back and forth for the race lead and the driver points lead in their Archangel Motorsport Services #22 Nissan Lola and Porschehaus Racing #89 Kolter Property/L2 Metal/Goodyear/Hawk Brake-sponsored Nissan Lola, respectively. The Archangel machine was in the lead when Lally's co-driver Jeff Tillman, of Lake Ozark, Mo., spun the car into the gravel in the inner loop, giving Porschehaus the lead.

However, the Porschehaus machine pitted to put St. Jacques back in the car, allowing Archangel's second entry, the #21 Nissan, to take over the class lead. Englishman Ben Devlin knew he was running low on fuel in the leading Archangel car in the closing laps, so he began to slow his speed to conserve fuel. But as the final minutes of the race grew closer, the Porschehaus machine passed Devlin, and he quickly picked back up his pace to try to move back in front. Devlin had lost radio communication with his team, but knew he had to get back ahead of the Porschehaus machine.

Despite all his efforts, the 19-year-old Englishman crossed the finish line just behind the Porschehaus car with his engine starting to sputter as it ran out of fuel. He entered the pits with his head hanging low, thinking he had cost the team the victory, but was met by his team celebrating. A puzzled Devlin quickly learned that he had lapped the Porschehaus machine during its pit stop, and his battle for the lead, was actually a battle for the lead lap. Team owner Mike Johnson said he knew something was wrong with the radio when he kept yelling for his driver to slow down and conserve fuel, while with each lap he improved on his best lap time.

Jack Willes, of Charlotte, N.C., earned his first Rolex Series victory with a win in the American GT class. Willes was the only driver in the Comer Racing #84 WorldBestBuy.com-sponsored Corvette, which was able to take advantage of problems by the class' top contenders.

Chris Bingham, of Kirkland, Wash., strengthened his lead in the GTS driver standings by co-driving the Fordahl Motorsports/Park Place Racing #5 BASF/HCI/Yokohama/Park Place Ltd.-sponsored #5 Saleen S7R to its sixth GTS win of the season.

The Rolex Series will return to Daytona International Speedway for its final race of the season - the Grand-Am Finale - September 12-16. Tickets are on sale now for the race at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

-Grand-Am

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Bingham , John Andretti , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Mauro Baldi , Ben Devlin , Randy Pobst , Andy Lally , Jeff Tillman , Jack Willes , Spencer Pumpelly , Mike Johnson
Teams Dyson Racing