Watkins Glen: Round 6 DP, round 7 GT preview

Gurney, Fogarty Look to Defend Sahlen's Six Hours, Seek First Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Victory of 2008 California natives found a home at Watkins Glen last season with two victories DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2008) -- While both Alex ...

Gurney, Fogarty Look to Defend Sahlen's Six Hours, Seek First Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Victory of 2008
California natives found a home at Watkins Glen last season with two victories

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2008) -- While both Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty hail from California, they found a home on the East Coast last season in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The two drivers combined to win both races in 2007 at Watkins Glen International, powering their way to the Daytona Prototype title by a slim two points.

This season, however, the duo has yet to visit victory lane. Strong runs haven't produced the finishes the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley drivers have wanted, and despite five top 10s and a best finish of second in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the pair is 37 points behind leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

But a return trip to Watkins Glen and the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen could change all that. Last year, Gurney and Fogarty won the six-hour classic, their second of a series season record seven victories and a springboard to their driving and team titles. Gurney and Fogarty, who also won the August race exclusively for Daytona Prototypes, are hoping for a repeat this weekend, as Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competitors contest Round 7 of the 2008 season. The green flag will wave at 11:11 a.m. Saturday (SPEED, Live; Part 1 at 11 a.m.; Part 2 from 2:30 p.m. until checkered flag).

This year, Watkins Glen celebrates the 60th anniversary of road racing in the village located at the southern tip of Lake Seneca. American driving legend Dan Gurney, Alex's father, played a role in the circuit's legendary history, racing in Formula 1 and Formula Libre events before fielding winning All American Racers entries in GTO in 1987 and 1988 and three overall GTP victories in the Glen Continental with Juan Manuel Fangio II from 1991 to 1993. Now, Dan Gurney's son is looking to continue his own chapter of the Gurney saga at The Glen.

"Watkins Glen is one of the last great road courses in this country," Alex Gurney said. "My dad always tells me about how the track used to be so incredible, running through the town and how special the long downhill section was. The current long course still has real character and is so much fun to drive. This track has been so good to us; we've gotten multiple poles, podiums, and wins here since we started coming here in 2005. Last year, our car was just on rails. This was the race where we started our 2007 winning streak and we'd obviously like to start the same streak again. We all know we need to do so if we're going to catch Ganassi in this championship."

Pruett and Rojas, co-drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, will look to continue the strongest start in Rolex Series history. After winning the Rolex 24 -- joined by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti -- they won the races at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Virginia International Raceway, in addition to finishing second at Mexico City and third in the most recent race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Pruett is a two-time Rolex Series winner for Ganassi at The Glen, capturing the 2004 Sahlen's Six Hours with Max Papis and the August 2006 race with Luis Diaz.

Their closest competitors in the title chase are Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Bob Stallings Racing/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley. The pair has a formidable top-10 streak of their own, dating back to last season. They have finished eighth or better in all five Daytona Prototype races this season and four consecutive top fives. Their victory at Mexico City and second-place finish at Laguna Seca have helped the duo stay close in the title hunt, pulling within 19 points of Pruett and Rojas. For The Glen, the team has added German Marcel Tiemann to the lineup. Tiemann scored his third consecutive and fourth career victory in the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring over the Memorial Day weekend.

"The way we're running at the moment, we've got a good car and I can't see any reason why we can't be competitive for Watkins Glen," Goossens said. "I think we're well prepared for long distance races. We had a good run in the Rolex 24, so I see no problem with The Glen. This is a longer race than most over races in the Rolex Series. We obviously don't approach it the same way as we would a 24-hour race, but it's in the same direction."

Hurley Haywood, the leading winner in the history of competition at Watkins Glen with nine victories, returns to competition by joining JC France and Joao Barbosa in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley. It will be the first race for Haywood since the Rolex 24. David Donohue leads the Daytona Prototype competitors with two pole positions this season, and joins Darren Law in the Brumos' No. 58 Porsche Riley. The team is seeking its first victory since the 2004 Sahlen's Six Hours, won by Donohue, Scott Goodyear and Mike Borkowski.

SunTrust Racing and Rum Bum Racing resume action at Watkins Glen after fire destroyed or badly damaged their cars over the last month. SunTrust Racing, which had switched to the new Dallara at Homestead-Miami Speedway, returns to the Riley chassis. A transporter fire along a Texas highway destroyed everything as the team was returning home to Indianapolis from Laguna Seca. Co-drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante will drive the No. 10 Pontiac Riley that took them to fifth in the Rolex 24.

Rum Bum Racing's BMW Riley suffered extensive damage in a fire during the RumBum.com 250. The car has been rebuilt for drivers Gene Sigal and Matt Plumb.

Porsche Seeks First Victory of 2008 Season; Tries to End Pontiac's Five-Race Streak

Looking for its first Rolex Series victory of the 2008 season in any class, Porsche brings a 14-car GT lineup to Watkins Glen for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

Spencer Pumpelly, a 2007 Sahlen's Six Hour co-winner, and rookie Tim George Jr. in the No. 67 Porsche GT3 lead the five-car TRG Porsche GT3 stable and look to close the point gap with defending race winner Andy Lally. They put the No. 67 second in the overall team points and have four podium finishes this season. Ted Ballou and Bryce Miller, eighth in points in the No. 66 Marquis Jet/Resorts International Porsche GT3, welcome Richard Westbrook in this week's endurance race. Westbrook helped Miller and Ballou to a runner-up finish in the Rolex 24.

"Everything is certainly in order for us to have a shot at the victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen," said TRG owner Kevin Buckler. "All three drivers that won the GT class last year with us are back in TRG Porsches this weekend, and five of our drivers finished inside the top five in this race last year."

Another Porsche team bringing a multi-car lineup is Farnbacher Loles Racing. Eric Lux, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., now living in Jacksonville, Fla., will join regular co-driver Leh Keen and guest veteran driver Wolf Henzler in the No. 86 Porsche GT3 for this race. The No. 87 Porsche GT3 will be driven by defending GT champion Dirk Werner, along with Dominik Farnbacher and Pierre Kaffer. Despite limited action this season, Farnbacher and Kaffer each have poles in GT this season driving the No. 87 car.

Pontiac is looking for its sixth straight GT victory at The Glen. Point leaders Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards of Banner Racing have three victories -- including two straight -- and Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis of Stevenson Motorsports have two victories. Leighton Reese and Marc Bunting welcome Andy Pilgrim to the No. 06 Banner Racing GXP.R. The Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac reached its highest point of the season at Lime Rock Park when Tim Lewis Jr. put the No. 72 GXP.R on the pole. He co-drives with Lawson Aschenbach.

The only other GT winning car in 2008 was the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, co-driven by Nick Ham, Sylvain Tremblay, David Haskell and Raphael Matos at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ham, Tremblay and Haskell look for the No. 70 car's fourth podium of the season. Another Mazda RX-8 warranting attention is the No. 40 Hyper Sport car, where Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey is expected to join Joe Foster.

Leading the Corvette camp is Buffalo-area driver and event sponsor Joe Sahlen, owner and driver of Team Sahlen, who will be joined by Will Nonnamaker in the No. 42 Corvette. Joe and Wayne Nonnamaker share the No. 43 entry.

Practice for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday ET, with qualifying set for 5 p.m. The field will take the green flag at 11:11 a.m. ET Saturday.

RACE SPECS

- This is Round 7 for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The combined Daytona Prototype/GT race is six hours.

- The green flag for the race is scheduled to fly at 11:11 a.m. ET. The race will air live on SPEED (Part 1 at 11 a.m.; Part 2 from 2:30 p.m. until checkered flag; Leigh Diffey -- Play-by-Play; Dorsey Schroeder, Calvin Fish -- Analysts; Brian Till, Chris Neville -- Pit Reporters).

- All cars must make a mandatory pit stop prior to the 45-minute mark in the race, and each driver must complete 30 minutes of the race in order to earn points for their respective standings.

- 2007 Sahlen's Six Hours race winners are Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (Daytona Prototypes), and Andy Lally, RJ Valentine and Spencer Pumpelly (GT).

ROLEX SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EASTERN)

- Friday: Rolex Series Combined Practice (9:30-11:00 a.m.); Rolex Series Combined Practice (3:05-3:35 p.m.); Rolex Series Trueman/Akin Practice (3:35-4:05 p.m.); Qualifying (5-5:30 p.m.)

- Saturday: Rolex Series Combined Practice (8:30-9 a.m.); Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen (11:11 a.m.; six hours)

2008 IN REVIEW

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas hold a 19-point advantage in the Daytona Prototype point standings after three wins and second and third-place finishes in their first five starts in 2008. They won the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami and the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews won the Mexico City 250 in the No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley, while Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib earned their initial Daytona Prototype victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Consistency and six top 10s -- including three class victories this season -- have Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards atop the GT point standings, also by 19 points over their closest competitors, Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr. However, the TRG pilots led the series standings earlier this season and have four podium finishes, including three second-place results. Stevenson Motorsports drivers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis also won two straight races this season and SpeedSource's Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham won the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Raphael Matos and David Haskell.

NEWS & NOTES

- Native Sons: Several drivers were born or currently reside in New York state. Mark Patterson is from Bronxville, Jerome Jacalone and Tim George Jr. from New York City, Joe Sahlen from Elma, Emil Assentato from Locust Valley and Nick Longhi from Nyack. Entered drivers who were born in The Empire State but live elsewhere now include Guy Cosmo (Long Island), Andy Lally (Northport) and Eric Lux (Buffalo).

- Home Race for Teams Too: Joe Sahlen's Team Sahlen's Corvette team is the only fulltime Rolex Series squad from New York. The Nos. 42 and 43 Corvettes -- owned by Elma's Sahlen -- are housed in Elma.

- Rojas' Two-Race Probation Ends Following Watkins Glen Race: For his involvement in an incident in the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, Mexican driver Memo Rojas was placed on a two-race probation period beginning at Laguna Seca. Rojas, who made contact with Michael Valiante while battling for position at VIR, will end his probationary period after this weekend's race.

- Third Drivers Key in Season's Second Endurance Race: Being the second of three endurances races this season, several teams are taking advantage of having a third driver. Among those drivers are David Empringham (No. 2 SAMAX BMW Riley), Richard Antinucci (No. 47 Doran Racing Ford Dallara), Hurley Haywood (No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley), Marcel Tiemann (No. 91 Bob Stallings Racing/Riley Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley), Andy Pilgrim (No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R), Ian Baas (No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3), Jonathan Bomarito (No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8), Tim Sugden (No. 64 TRG Porsche GT3), Josemanuel Gutierrez (No. 65 TRG/Riegel Autosport Porsche GT3), Richard Westbrook (No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3), Andy Lally (No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3), Nick Longhi (No. 69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8), David Haskell (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8), Andy Brumbaugh and Jim Michaelian (No. 74 GTS Racing with Mitchum Motorsports Porsche GT3), Wolf Henzler (No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3) and Dominik Farnbacher and Pierre Kaffer (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3), who have alternated driving the car throughout this season.

- Ruby Tuesday to Debut New Bodywork at The Glen: The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team will debut the new Crawford Chassis bodywork at Watkins Glen this weekend. The Crawford bodywork is the last of the new chassis bodywork to compete this season. Several teams have switched their Riley bodywork already, while the Lola, Dallara and Coyote bodywork debuted earlier this year. Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand drive the No. 23 Porsche Crawford. "It's a car we've never seen before," Hand said. "I think the big thing for us is that we've made some really good chassis and suspension adjustments. I think if the new bodywork is that good we should be in good shape. I am excited about it. The team is excited about it. We've been waiting a while for this. So, maybe at Watkins Glen is where we get our first win of the season."

- Thurman Thomas to Serve as Honorary Starter at The Glen: Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame Running Back Thurman Thomas, who led the team to four Super Bowls in the early 1990s and is one of the top offensive statistical leaders in NFL and team history, will be the honorary starter for Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Thomas will attend the driver's meeting, wave the green flag and assist with the victory lane procedure. Thomas isn't the only NFL player -- current or retired -- to be involved in Rolex Series competition over the last month. New York Giants Wide Receiver Amani Toomer, who played in January's Super Bowl XLII victory over the New England Patriots, was a guest of Automatic Racing at Lime Rock Park. Steve Johnson, a former tight end with the Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, co-drives the No. 88 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3.

- Starting up Front Has its Privileges in GT: Starting up front is the right place to start, at least for drivers in the Rolex Series GT class. Sylvain Tremblay, Kelly Collins and Andrew Davis have all started in the front two rows in their co-victories in 2008. Meanwhile, the Daytona Prototypes have been on the opposite end. The best start any driver has won from was third (Pruett and Rojas) at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Other starts have been sixth (Pruett, Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti), 15th (Goossens and Matthews) and 17th (Pruett and Rojas after failing post-qualifying tech inspection; Dalziel and Zogaib).

MILESTONES

- Law Hits The Century Mark: Brumos Racing's Darren Law became the first driver in Rolex Series competition to earn the coveted 100th career start, as he garnered that mark in the Mexico City 250 with an 11th-place finish. Law has competed in at least nine Rolex Series races each season since the inaugural Rolex Series season, and has eight class victories, yet is still looking for his first career overall win. In addition, Law leads the Rolex Series in laps and miles completed.

- Pruett, Ganassi Continue Winning Record: Scott Pruett and Chip Ganassi continue to set records for overall wins in the Rolex Series. Pruett notched his 17th overall win in the Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR, now four more than second-place James Weaver. In turn, Ganassi earned his 18th win -- all in Daytona Prototypes -- seven more than the SunTrust Racing team. Pruett has also finished in the top 10 in 24 consecutive Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races.

- Pontiac Owns Class Win Record: With six class victories this season, Pontiac has passed Porsche for all-time class wins. Pontiac owns 50 class wins, while Porsche, which has not won in either Daytona Prototype or GT in 2008, has 49.

SELECTED PRE-RACE DRIVER QUOTES

SHANE LEWIS (No. 3 Southard Motorsports Lexus Riley): "Watkins Glen has so much history; from Formula 1 to IndyCar, NASCAR to Daytona Prototypes, the best of the best have raced here. The Six Hour race at Watkins Glen has become one of the all-time classic endurance races. Other than Daytona, it has the most history of any track on our schedule. You want to do well here. You want to win here. You want to be in that record book that says you won The Six Hour."

GENE SIGAL (No. 7 Rum Bum Racing BMW Riley): "We are going to the Glen with almost a brand new car that was rebuilt after the Laguna Seca fire, and we look forward to running at the front of the pack. We just had two big accidents in three races and we proved again that our Rum Bum Racing team is strong and made up of very highly qualified professionals. The crew worked so hard to rebuild the car again. I am amazed. I really want to thank our crew chief Evan and the mechanics James, Joey and Sean and everybody else who contributed to the task and gave us a chance, like Riley and Dinan, to return to competition for this race. Steve Dinan and his staff paused their program to help us get a new engine ready on time and also sent their engineer to fix our last minute problems and I am very proud to be working with them. We always thought that the car will be back on four wheels but without these guys it would not have been possible. I am hoping that with this six-hour event Matt Plumb and I will have plenty of time to drive and we hope we can return to a competitive mode and score another good result like we did in Miami and VIR."

RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 47 Doran Racing CDOC/BSI Racing Ford Dallara): "I'm really looking forward to the Watkins Glen race as an opportunity. I contacted Doran Racing over the winter because I really wanted to drive the new Dallara package which I think has a lot of potential. The driving style is very different from my Indy Lights car; the prototype is less forgiving and you really have to be on your toes, but the good thing is that how you drive can really make a difference in this kind of car. On an oval, the car is everything, but in a six-hour prototype race, you can really put your signature on the drive."

BRYCE MILLER (No. 66 TRG Marquis Jet/Resorts International Porsche GT3): "Watkins Glen is a historically rich circuit with really fun high speed segments. Myself and the team are excited to run here as the 'draft' plays a larger role compared to other tracks we visit. We are continuing our aggressive testing schedule in an effort to further develop our car and should know by weekends' end if we can begin to counter any of the overwhelming performance parities being enforced. I am excited for Richard Westbrook to rejoin us for the Six Hours at The Glen; I enjoy driving with him as he brings good experience and speed and is pleasant to work with."

SYLVAIN TREMBLAY (No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed/Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "The Glen is a blast to race on. I love fast corners, and so does our Syntec Mazda! The place has great flow. Once you get your rhythm, it is one of the most fun tracks in North America."

MEMO GIDLEY (No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara): "Historically the Doran Racing team has done well at Watkins Glen, including a top-10 finish here last year. I love this track because of how interesting it is to drive with all the different types of turns and elevation changes. It's a good feeling to know that we have the package, and the speed, to run at the front. Now we just need a trouble-free race and we'll score that podium finish that I know we're capable of."

BRAD JAEGER (No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara): "I raced The Glen short course, the same one we'll be using this weekend, in the Indy Pro Series last year. From that experience I can tell you that the aerodynamic package is vital to having a good car for the race. And the Doran team, working with Dallara and their wind tunnel program, has made good progress in that area. The car is already quick, and I think with the fine-tuning we can give it with what we've learned in the last couple of races, we should be able to run at the front."

ERIC LUX (No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3): "Another of my top-ranked circuits -- for the same reasons that I love Laguna Seca, I love Watkins Glen. However, there is one more thing about Watkins Glen that I can't say about Laguna Seca or any other circuit: I consider Watkins Glen to be my home circuit after growing up two hours west. I lived there until I was 18 years old and moved temporarily to Jacksonville, Fla., for school. The diversity of the corners at this circuit and especially the high-speed corners really make this an enjoyable circuit to race on. The circuit seems to go on forever with the scenery changes and elevation changes. It can give you the impression that you are racing on the original circuit, which went through the countryside. Leh Keen has had several good results and a win at the circuit, so I think it is safe to say that we are both looking forward to going for the win."

PIERRE KAFFER (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3): "It's the first time I'll drive at Watkins Glen. From what I hear, it will be a very exciting track. I really enjoyed driving the last races with the team and I'm really looking forward to working with them again. I'm sure we'll have fun -- and if you have fun, then you have more success." [strategy for a six-hour race] "Take a lot of risks, make no mistakes, be fast and finish first! Stay out of trouble, of course, and make no mistakes. Then you have a good chance to come to the podium."

MARC GOOSSENS (No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "The way we're running at the moment, we've got a good car and I can't see any reason why we can't be competitive for Watkins Glen. I think we're well prepared for long distance races. We had a good run in the Rolex 24, so I see no problem with The Glen. This is a longer race than most over races in the Rolex Series. We obviously don't approach it the same way as we would a 24-hour race, but it's in the same direction."

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Autometrics Motorsports , Stevenson Motorsports , Racers Edge Motorsports , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , Rum Bum Racing , SpeedSource