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Laguna Seca: Dodge Motorsports preview

DODGE MOTORSPORTS LOOKS TO WRAP UP MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP IN SEASON FINALE AT LAGUNA SECA MONTEREY, Calif. (October 19, 2006) -- Dodge Motorsports' Sports Car Club of America series drivers will finish out the season at Laguna Seca this ...

DODGE MOTORSPORTS LOOKS TO WRAP UP MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP IN SEASON FINALE AT LAGUNA SECA

MONTEREY, Calif. (October 19, 2006) -- Dodge Motorsports' Sports Car Club of America series drivers will finish out the season at Laguna Seca this weekend and will be on the hunt to lock up the Manufacturers' Championship in the GT class with good finishes in the season finale. Dodge, who leads the standings by five points, went into the previous race weekend at Road Atlanta just one point out of the lead. After a tremendous last-lap pass and second place finish by Tommy Archer, Dodge took over the lead in the standings.

Dodge Motorsports sits atop the Manufacturers' Championship standings with a five point lead over Cadillac and Porsche who are tied for second with 50 points a-piece.

Dodge also has four drivers in the top-10 in GT driver's points, its highest being Road America winner and four-time 2006 podium finisher Tommy Archer in the fifth position. Bob Woodhouse, the 60-year-old Nebraska native who has had eight top-10 and four top-five finishes this season, sits sixth in the standings, while Sebring winner and six time top-10 finisher Mike McCann sits seventh. Eighth is McCann's teammate Rob Foster, who has posted seven top-10 finishes this season as a rookie.

Between the four GT drivers, Dodge has posted 27 top-10, 14 top-five, and seven podium finishes so far this season. With a good finish by any of the Dodge Viper drivers, Dodge could lock up the championship and take home the big prize after what has been a successful season.

"We're just amazed how the privateer teams have decided to work together to grab the GT Manufacturers Championship for Dodge," stated Gary Johnson, Dodge Motorsports Road Racing Manager. "With a slim five point lead going into the last race, it's not a sure thing, but with some strong drives and a little luck we might be bringing back more hardware for the SRT trophy case in Auburn Hills," Johnson said with a smile.

Woodhouse owns one of those privateer teams and is one who has been working together with other Dodge guys throughout the season. He used last year's race as a comparison to talk about expectations for the 2006 finale, saying that the racing will be good and the politics and the competition between manufacturers will be even better.

"At the final race of the year last year things got out of hand. The Cadillac team made it apparent it was going to be their day on the podium--whatever the cost," said Woodhouse. "Things got a little rough, there was a questionable blocking maneuver and a couple of the Vipers and Porsches got punted. Since the SCCA levied no points or fines to the aggressive drivers, everyone assumes the game will be played the same this year."

But, as is always the case for Woodhouse and the Dodges, it will be clean racing and expectations for top-finishes.

"As for the Dodge/Kicker/Woodhouse Auto Family Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, you can count on us filling a top-10 spot, the lowest number possible," Woodhouse said. "Last year we never got a race lap in because of a pair of crashed cars careening across the track and broad-siding us in the first corner. This is our year. Car No. 13 has been getting back all of the luck lost last year, it should hold on for just one more."

Jim McCann Jr, Ritch Marziale, Stu Frederick, Brett Pearson, and Al Becerra will compete in Dodge Vipers in the GT series as well.

Touring Cars will compete at Laguna Seca this weekend, finishing up their season on the 2.2 mile California track in conjunction with the GT cars. The SRT4's of Robb Holland, Dan Aweida and Brian Smith will once again compete with the rest of the field, hoping to give Dodge its first win in the Touring Car series and its second podium finish of the season.

Aweida, who drives the No. 66 Dodge SRT4 for 3R racing, is coming off a successful run at Road Atlanta in which he got his first career top-10 start and finish and was the highest finishing Dodge in the field. He attributes their success to the ingenuity of his 3R Racing team.

"The entire 3R Racing team has done an absolutely fantastic job this season developing a new car from scratch while also developing three rookie drivers, myself being one of them. Without them there is no way I could have had near the success I have had this year or get our best run at Road Atlanta a couple weeks ago," Aweida said. "The whole 3R Racing team is excited to get back to Laguna Seca. I love the track and feel that we have the SRT4s running well enough to be able to finish the race with one or both of our 3R Racing SRT4s in top-10. "

Smith and Holland were stout throughout the weekend in Atlanta as well, but issues outside of their control ultimately kept them from posting top-finishes. Smith was quickest in one of the practice sessions that weekend and was running ninth when his Dodge started losing engine coolant, keeping him from bringing home the expected top-finish. Meanwhile Holland, who had to start at the back of the pack because of a tire change after qualifying, was charging up through the field before an incident with Freddy Baker sent him spinning and relegated him to a 15th place finish. He's glad to be headed to Laguna Seca.

"I'm looking forward to Laguna Seca for sure. It's my home track. It's where I learned how to drive a racecar basically," said Holland. "I'm pumped about racing there and I think it's going to be our best finish of the year--I think it will be a better weekend for us than even Road America was."

Holland posted a third place finish at Road America back in August, giving Dodge its first-ever podium finish in the Touring Car series.

"This weekend, we're thinking top-step of the podium," Holland continued. "That's what we're shooting for. That's what we're shooting for every week but with how everything's been going for us lately, the way the car is working right now and my knowledge of the track I think that we've got a realistic shot at the podium -- maybe even the top-step."

Holland, Aweida, and Smith take to the track on Friday at 8:55 a.m. for practice and qualify on Saturday at 9:25 a.m. The green flag waves over the final race of the season for the Speed World Challenge Touring Car series at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Archer, Woodhouse, McCann and the other Dodge Viper drivers will get behind the wheel for practice on Friday at 9:20 a.m., qualify on Saturday at 9:50 a.m. and compete to wrap-up the Manufacturer's Championship for Dodge on Sunday at 2 p.m. when the green flag waves over the final race of the 2006 Speed World Challenge GT season.

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series PWC
Drivers Tommy Archer , Brian Smith , Bob Woodhouse , Jim McCann , Robb Holland , Dan Aweida , Brett Pearson , Stu Frederick , Ritch Marziale