Watkins Glen: Six hour race preview

Rolex Series Reunites Classes as Record-Breaking Season Continues Saturday in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2007) -- With a record-setting season likely to continue Saturday heading into the third longest race of...

Rolex Series Reunites Classes as Record-Breaking Season Continues Saturday in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2007) -- With a record-setting season likely to continue Saturday heading into the third longest race of the year, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve's Daytona Prototype and GT classes reunite this weekend for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International (SPEED, Live, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday).

For the first time since March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Daytona Prototype and GT classes will race together in the same event. The season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mexico City 400k also featured both classes. The return of combined races shouldn't change the mindset of Rolex Series teams this weekend, however, as they have been rewriting the record books all season. A series-record five teams have tasted victory in Daytona Prototype action in five races this season (six dating back to 2006), while the GT class has seen only one repeat winner in its six races. In total, that equates to 10 of the 11 Rolex Series races producing different winning drivers and cars in 2007.

Daytona Prototype championship leader Scott Pruett hopes the streak for his series ends at five. A co-winner in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Pruett will be among the top competitors this weekend seeking to become the season's first Daytona Prototype repeat winner in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. Pruett, who leads the standings by five (148-143) over SunTrust Racing teammates Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen, scored a second-place result in the most recent race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where he led one lap midway through the race after taking over from co-driver Memo Rojas. Rojas, in turn, is looking for his first career Rolex Sports Car Series victory, as he teamed with Pruett beginning at the series' second round at Mexico City. Pruett and former teammate Max Papis combined to win the Sahlen's Six Hour in 2004.

Two top qualifiers, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty who co-pilot the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Pontiac Riley, hope for another front row start at Watkins Glen after starting either first or second in the first five races this season. The pair burst through with a victory in round two at Mexico City after starting second. Gurney and Fogarty also started on the pole in last year's August race at Watkins Glen.

Californians Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff won at Homestead in the No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley and welcome fellow Californian Joey Hand as a third driver for this weekend. Angelelli and Magnussen took over the points lead for one race after their victory at VIR in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, but have since fell into a tie for second after a 15th-place finish at Laguna Seca. Subbing for Magnussen this weekend will be Frenchman and Formula 1 test driver Jonathan Cochet, who will make his first start for the SunTrust Racing team.

Defending Daytona Prototype champion and 2006 Sahlen's Six Hour co-winner Jorg Bergmeister, along with co-driver Patrick Long, steered the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford to victory at Laguna Seca one race ago. Not only were they the fifth straight winners to open the season, they also helped Porsche become the fourth different engine manufacturer to earn a race win in 2007.

While the aforementioned hope to squeeze out victory number two, others are hoping to end the streak.

No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac/Riley co-drivers Papis and Colin Braun are tied for fourth in points and are the highest drivers in the standings still yet to claim a victory. Braun owns two poles this season and the team has finished second in both those races -- at Mexico City and VIR. Teammates Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson in the similar No. 76 machine are also looking for their first victory since two years ago this weekend, when they triumphed in the Sahlen's Six Hour.

Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson, who started the six-race Rolex Series streak after winning the 2006 season finale at Miller Motorsports Park, found their niche at Laguna Seca with a third-place result in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley. They are in one of two Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley entries, with John Pew and Ian James sharing the No. 6 machine.

Brumos Porsche's two race cars have also made strong showings in the last two races. David Donohue, a former winner at Watkins Glen, hopes to continue the strong run he and Darren Law have put together in the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley in recent races. Teammate Hurley Haywood, also a multiple-time Watkins Glen winner, returns with co-driver JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche/Kendall Porsche Riley. France's best Glen finish in a Daytona Prototype was fourth in 2003.

New York natives Chris and Rob Dyson return the No. 16 Howard Motorsports Thetford/Norcold Porsche Crawford to action this weekend after a one-race hiatus, with Butch Leitzinger listed as the car's third driver. Fellow Northeasterner Rob Finlay will bring the second Chip Ganassi car to the track, with the No. 19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential Lexus Riley, as he and co-driver Michael Valiante look to improve on a season-best seventh at Homestead.

Seven other one-car teams are also entered. They include the No. 3 Southard Motorsports Performed Line Products/Truechoice Motorsports Lexus Riley (Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman), No. 11 SAMAX Motorsport CITGO Pontiac/Riley (Patrick Carpentier and a driver to be named), No. 12 RVO Motorsports Rock Valley Oil & Chemical Co. Pontiac Riley (Roger Schramm and Justin Bell), No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Porsche Fabcar (Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix), No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold/RBC Financial Lexus/Riley (Burt and Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins), No. 77 Feeds The Need/Doran Racing Kodak Ford/Doran (Memo Gidley and a driver to be named) and the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac/Riley (Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens).

GT Class:

On the GT side, No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 co-drivers Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay are the only drivers to win twice on the schedule, but they are now in a three-way tie atop the point standings with German rookie Dirk Werner, who has steadily worked his way to the top after four straight podium finishes with Bryce Miller in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC Porsche GT3. Ham, Tremblay and Werner all have 172 points. Miller isn't far behind in sixth, with 160 points.

This weekend, Ham and Tremblay will also share the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 with David Haskell. Miller and Werner, meanwhile, will look for their second class victory after winning at VIR.

Poised to strike and tied for fourth in points are No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R co-drivers Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins, the only two drivers in the top 10 in points still to win a race this season, despite leading more than half the GT races. Their teammates in the No. 06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R -- Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. -- gave the new Pontiac its first victory of 2007 in the last race at Lime Rock Park. The pair is on the verge of breaking into the top 10 in points.

Rolex 24 At Daytona GT class winners Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin in the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/todaymd.com Porsche GT3 have since slipped back to a four-way tie for seventh in points with Laguna Seca co-winners Andy Lally and RJ Valentine (who welcome Spencer Pumpelly to the car this weekend), who pilot the No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3. All four drivers own 146 points.

Other threats to win the GT class race are Farnbacher Loles Motorsports co-drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Leh Keen. Their No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 has been in the race lead more than any other GT car this season. No. 74 Tafel Racing Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 drivers Eric Lux and Wolf Henzler scored their first podium finish in the last race at Lime Rock Park. These teams are joined by several other potent Porsches, including three more TRG entries (Jim Lowe and Jim Pace, No. 64; Ross Smith and Daniel Dileo, No. 65 and John Potter, Murray Marden and Brent Milner, No. 67), a second Tafel Racing entry (Nathan Swartzbaugh and Andrew Davis, No. 72) and one each from Autometrics Motorsports (Cory Friedman, No. 14), Doncaster Racing (Greg Wilkins, Tom Papadopoulos and Robert Julien, No. 17), O'Connell Racing (Kevin O'Connell and Mike Speakman, No. 27), At Speed Motorsports (Ian Baas and Mark White, No. 28) and Synergy Racing (Steve Johnson and Richard Westbrook, No. 81).

The two-car Team Sahlen HRPworld.com squad, led by series and event sponsor Joe Sahlen, has the Nos. 42 and 43 Corvettes ready for action as well. Sahlen will partner with Will Nonnamker in the No. 42, while Joe and Wayne Nonnamaker will share the No. 43. Other competitive Corvettes include the two Stevenson Motorsports entries (Marc Bunting and Dominic Cicero II, No. 57 and Tommy Riggins and Vic Rice, No. 97) and the No. 48 WTF Engineering entry (Robert Dubler, Hans Hauser and Ed Magner).

Rounding out the entry list are two entries from Matt Connolly Motorsports (Matt Connolly and Hal Prewitt, No. 21 Pontiac GTO.R and Jim Michaelian, No. 24 BMW M3), a second SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 (Emil Assentato, Nick Longhi and Jeff Segal, No. 69) and single-car entries from Blackforest Motorsports (Tom Nastasi, Valerie Limoges and Andy Wallace, No. 15 Mustang Cobra GT) and Racer Edge Motorsports (James Gue and Mark Pavan, No. 30 Pontiac GXP.R).

Practice kicks off at 10:45 a.m. Thursday and a one-hour session scheduled for 3 p.m. A pair of practice sessions proceeds Friday's afternoon's two 15-minute qualifying sessions, and the six-hour classic begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen Fast Facts

What: Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve

Who: Daytona Prototype and GT class cars, featuring several top American and international sports car driving stars

Where: Watkins Glen International -- Watkins Glen, N.Y.

When: Saturday, June 9, 2007 -- 11 a.m.

TV: SPEED, Live, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Schedule of Events:
(All times local, Eastern Time)

Thursday, June 7
9:45 AM - 10:45 AM Rolex GT Series
10:45 AM - 11:45 AM Rolex Daytona Prototype Series
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Rolex GT Series
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Rolex Daytona Prototype Series

Friday, June 8
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Practice -- Rolex Series
1:10 PM - 2:40 PM Practice -- Rolex Series
4:00 PM - 4:15 PM Qualifying -- Rolex GT Series
4:20 PM - 4:35 PM Qualifying -- Rolex Daytona Prototype Series

Saturday, June 9
8:20 AM - 8:40 AM Practice -- Rolex Series
10:30 AM - 10:40 AM Recon Laps -- Rolex Series
10:40 AM - 10:55 AM Pre-Race -- Rolex Series
11:00 AM START -- Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen (6-hour time limit)

TIME CERTAIN SCHEDULE -- All sessions to start and finish as shown

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , Alex Job Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing