DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- James Weaver and Chris Dyson drove their venerable Ford-powered Dyson Racing Riley & Scott to victory this afternoon in the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand American Finale at Daytona International Speedway, finishing 2.08 ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- James Weaver and Chris Dyson drove their venerable Ford-powered Dyson Racing Riley & Scott to victory this afternoon in the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand American Finale at Daytona International Speedway, finishing 2.08 seconds ahead of the second Dyson Racing entry of Butch Leitzinger and Chris's father, Rob Dyson.
"We're always looking for a 1-2 finish so we could win the team championship," Chris Dyson explained after his fifth win of the season. "And that's what we got today. In a way, it was mission accomplished. We came up a little short on the championship on the drivers end, but the team championship is what we race for. We're very happy."
"I'm elated to be part of a 1-2 finish at Daytona where my son came first in the final race of the season," added the elder Dyson. "He won two races here out of the three that were held and he did a great job in all three of them."
In a sense, the younger Dyson's win represented a fitting end to the sports racing prototype era at Daytona since his father was one of the pioneers of the open-cockpit category. "This is great way to end the season and a terrific way to close an era," stated Chris Dyson.
The highly modified Robinson Racing Judd-powered Riley & Scott of Jack Baldwin and George Robinson finished third, followed by Didier Theys and Fredy Lienhard Jr. in the Doran Racing Judd Dallara. By finishing fourth, Theys, who held a narrow nine-point lead over Chris Dyson entering today's race, captured the 2002 drivers' championship. "I'm very pleased," Theys explained. "It was a long season. Unfortunately, we had a brake problem today so we captured the drivers' championship, but not the team championship."
Early on, it was clear the final race of the world sports car era at Daytona would end just as it began, Dyson Racing v. Doran Racing. Theys got the best of both Dyson cars in the opening laps, leaving the two Riley & Scotts to mix it up for second. But when Lienhard had to make an unscheduled pit stop after he spun the Dallara in turn 5 just shy of the one-hour mark, Chris Dyson assumed the lead for the first time. Lienhard's stop dropped him to fourth, behind both Dyson cars and the Robinson Racing Riley & Scott.
Despite a minor off course excursion in the bus stop chicane, Chris Dyson held onto the lead until he pitted about 20 minutes later, handing the car back to Weaver. Once all of the leaders had stopped and Lienhard had spun again, Weaver picked right up where Chris Dyson left off, maintaining the lead until Leitzinger took his turn at the front of the field after the next round of stops. A short time later, faulty brakes caused Theys to spin wildly going into turn 1, effectively ending any chance he may have had to win.
"I noticed that the brake pedal was quite long after Fredy got out of the car and I got in," Theys said. "I had to start to pump the brakes more than usual, but I still had brakes. Then going into turn one on that lap I pumped them and nothing was there; I only had rear brakes. I spun out in turn 1, and I got many cones stuck under the car. I had to go into reverse to get them off so I could get going again, and that took some time."
With Theys eliminated from contention, Leitzinger went unchallenged until he stopped again less than 50 minutes from the finish. This allowed Weaver to lead briefly until he pitted eleven minutes later, handing the car back to Chris Dyson.
Leitzinger, however, had to make an extra stop less than five minutes from the end so that Rob Dyson could get back in the car for the finish. Although the elder Dyson managed to retain lead, it was only a matter of time before his son swept by him to take the win.
"I was planning on getting back into the car at the end for a lot of reasons, reasons that will come out later," said Rob Dyson. "It had nothing to do with where we were and the points race. I thought that we could get in and out and still keep the lead. I wasn't dogging it out there, or slowing up or waiting for him to pass me. We got in and out as fast as we could with a driver change and tires. We had a little handling problem all day that we were chasing. I got in the car at the end. I was planning to do that all along. I told the boy's that I'm finishing up this race in my car and that's the way it is."
Terry Borcheller and Anthony Lazzaro finished fifth overall and first in SRPII in their Rand Racing Nissan Lola. Borcheller, last year's ALMS GTS class champion, needed just one lap to clinch the SRPII title. The title is Borcheller's first championship in a prototype car.
The second Rand Racing Nissan Lola overcame contact with the No. 46 Morgan Dollar Motorsports Corvette in the East Horseshoe to claim sixth overall.
The father and son duo of Rob and Charles Morgan took the AGT class lead on lap ten and never looked back, finishing first in class and seventh overall in the aforementioned Morgan Dollar Motorsports Corvette. Kerry Hitt walked away with the AGT championship despite finishing 37th due to transmission woes. "There are good weekends and then there are just weekends and this was just a weekend," Hitt said.
In the GT class, late race contact between the leading No. 26 ACEMCO Motorsports Porsche GT3R and the Risi Competition Ferrari 360 Modena, allowed Darren Law to take the class win in the G&W Motorsports Porsche GT3R he shared with Brent Martini. The No. 26 Porsche of Cass Whitehead, Jeffry Giangrande, and BJ Zacharias hung on for second in class and 10th overall.
Ferrari drivers Cort Wagner and Bill Auberlen, who finished sixth in class, co-drove their way to the GT class crown.
Finally, after Franz Konrad's pole sitting Saleen S7R fell off the pace just shy of the two-hour mark, Mike Newton and Randolf Watkins drove their Graham Nash Saleen S7R to a relatively easy GTS class victory.