Barbosa, Haywood win race; Gurney, Fogarty Win DP title
While Joao Barbosa and Hurley Haywood won Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season-ending Grand Prix of Miami, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney finished fourth to capture their second Daytona Prototype championship.
Barbosa passed Scott Pruett on the back straight with 28 minutes - or Lap 84 of 100 - remaining in the two-and-half hour race to score his first Daytona Prototype triumph, while Haywood - a late addition to the Brumos lineup - scored his first victory since winning a pair of races at Homestead and Phoenix in 2003.
"This is a testament to the Brumos legacy," said the 61-year-old Haywood. "To put an old guy in the car with hardly any practice time, and to have Joao bring the car home in the dramatic fashion he did, well, that is Brumos. I don't think anybody thought we could win today - it's just overwhelming."
It marked the second Daytona Prototype championship for Fogarty and Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. They finished six points ahead (337-331) of Pruett and Memo Rojas, who finished second in the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley. Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli entered the race second in the standings but finished seventh in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara. They finished the year third in the championship with 325 points.
The race ended under caution following a multi-car spin on a restart with six minutes remaining, when Jared Beyer was turned around in front of a pack of cars - eliminating Beyer while damaging many of the GT contenders. That gave the Acxiom GT victory to Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in the No. 07 Team Drinking' Mate Pontiac GXP.R, while Leh Keen and Dirk Werner captured the championship with a third-place finish.
Fogarty won his fifth consecutive pole and six in seven races in Friday's qualifying, and led twice for 45 of the 100 laps. Gurney took over and ran in position to take the title throughout his run.
"We fought harder this year," said Gurney, who joined Fogarty in winning seven races in the 2007 championship run. "This one was a little more rewarding."
Both Rojas and Pruett each took turns in the lead, but Barbosa went by and led the final 17 circuits.
"I did not think in the beginning that we had a car to win," Barbosa said. "The crew made the car better on every pit stop and suddenly I am in a position to pass for the lead. When I went by Scott, I was so happy I could cry. To be competitive, to be in position to win a race is a great feeling. And to win it, is the happiest a driver can be."
Pruett, who shared the 2004 and 2008 Daytona Prototype titles, finished second in the points for the fourth time.
"It was a hard-fought battle all day long, and we fought hard for every position," Pruett said. "We gave it all we had. It was a brutal day - the heat was ugly. But that's the way it is."
Darren Law and David Donohue, winners of the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, finished fifth in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley.
Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut finished sixth in the No. 55 Supercar Life Racing BMW Riley after Bouchut led 12 laps. Tucker also drove in the team's No. 95 BMW Riley, joining Ryan Hunter-Reay in an 11th-place finish. At one point, the teammates ran 1-2 before both cars pitted. Hunter-Reay also raced later in the afternoon in the IndyCar Series finale on the speedway's 1.5-mile oval.
Edwards, Collins Win Wild GT Battle
Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards won their second consecutive victory at Homestead, with Edwards going from fourth to first on the final restart to seal the team's first victory of 2009.
"It was just carnage on the last restart," Edwards said. "Everyone had the same idea - go for the glory. I had the same idea as everyone, but I came out clean - a little bit better than everyone else. I saw the destruction derby coming, and went to the outside and missed them all."
Collins finished the year second in the points (359-334).
"We got lucky, but I'd rather be lucky than good any day," Collins said. "We've had a lot of bad luck this year, and came back to finish second in the championship."
Collins entered the race still eligible for the GT title, but was eliminated when Keen ran the 30 minutes needed to score points in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 to clinch his first title. Werner, who won the title for the team in 2007, ran 30 minutes to join Keen atop the standings following a third-place finish.
"We started the year with the one objective - the championship," said team owner Greg Loles. "We were very fortunate, because we were up against a very good group of people, like the No. 07 team. This championship is more special. We won in '07 with our consistency, but we won more races (four, including three in a row) this year, and I couldn't be happier."
Added Werner: "For me, it is awesome to win a second championship in only three years here in the States. It was only possible with this team and I'm very happy."
Liddell held the lead in the No. 57 Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R started by Andrew Davis on the final restart, but was bottled up in heavy traffic as Edwards went by. Liddell had led three times for a race-high 37 before finishing second.
Nick Ham won the GT pole in the No. 70 Castrol/Syntec Mazda RX-8, and joined co-driver Sylvain Tremblay in leading three times for 34 laps. However, Ham cut a tire after contact with Liddell while battling for the lead in heavy traffic, and held on to finish fifth.
John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly finished fourth in the No. 65 TRG/Magnus Racing Porsche GT3.
The race was slowed by six cautions for 25 laps, slowing the winning average speed to 90.766 mph.
The 2009 Rolex Champions Banquet presented by SunTrust will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The public is invited for the crowning of the champions in both the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge. For ticket information, visit grand-am.com/banquet.
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