Pruett and Rojas Capture 100th Daytona Prototype Race
Drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of the TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team celebrated the 100th race for the Daytona Prototype class by scoring an impressive victory in Saturday's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, adding to their record win totals in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series' leading division.
Pruett took the lead with one hour remaining and led all but one of the remaining laps in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley started by Rojas. Pruett beat Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Ryan Dalziel to the checkered flag by 24.304 seconds, extending his DP-leading total to 28 victories; it was the 29th triumph for the Ganassi team.
"It's great for our team to win the 100th DP race - that's incredible," Pruett said. "That says a lot for GRAND-AM for what they've achieved and where it's going. It's a special mark for our team. Today we didn't have the fastest race car, but we raced smart and we raced clean and we did what we had to do. Good things happen to good people."
The victory came only four days after a penalty resulting from post-race inspection at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course cost the team 25 points, cutting their lead to seven points in the battle for the DP championship title. Pruett and Rojas now lead Ryan Dalziel by 13 points.
"I don't know how to describe racing with the extra weight," Rojas said. "Try running a sprint with a backpack and then try to slow down. But we were able to stay focused, and Scott hasn't made a single mistake all season."
Dalziel - who won the season-opening Rolex 24 with Action Express Racing - joined Mike Forest in the No. 8 Corsa Car Care BMW/Riley. Both drivers led the race for a total of 13 laps; their efforts came one day after they missed qualifying due to an accident in opening practice. It was Dalziel's third consecutive podium finish with three different teams at Daytona. He finished third in last year's Brumos Porsche 250, co-driving with Bill Lester for Orbit Racing.
Ozz Negri and John Pew took third in the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley, their third podium finish of the season. Negri held off David Donohue, who co-drove with Darren Law in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche/Riley. Memo Gidley and Dion von Moltke finished fifth in the No. 77 McDonald's/PR Newswire Ford/Dallara.
Negri, Donohue and Law participated in the first Daytona Prototype race, the 2003 Rolex 24. Donohue and Law have run in all 100 races.
In the GT class, Andy Lally passed Joey Hand with nine laps remaining to win his third race of the season, joining RJ Valentine in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3.
"Joey and I have had great battles at almost every track we go to, and it's great to be back up here," Lally said. "This was RJ's first race in a year-and-a-half, and he showed up here and gave great feedback. He drove awesome in wet conditions during practice yesterday, and he was hauling the mail early in today's race."
Hand finished second, joined by Paul Dalla Lana and Bill Auberlen in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6. Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell finished third, giving the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro its first podium finish in six races.
"Andy Lally and I have been racing together since we were kids, and we've had only one kind of battle - great ones," said Hand, who joined Auberlen in giving Turner Motorsport its first GT victory in the most recent race at Mid-Ohio. "Andy was coming on strong today, and his car was strong today. I wasn't much of a match for him today."
Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal finished fourth in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8. They lead the GT championship standings by nine points over Lally and 13 over Sylvain Tremblay, who finished sixth in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito.
Ricky Taylor started the race from the pole and led the opening 13 laps. He was running second after his first pit stop when he spun and impacted the guardrail in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford/Dallara. Co-driver Max Angelelli took over and finished ninth.
Jon Fogarty, who was involved in the Taylor incident, finished seventh in the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet/Riley co-driven by Alex Gurney. The defending Daytona Prototype champions ran in contention before losing first gear midway through the race.
Other leaders who encountered problems were Brian Frisselle, who led 13 laps in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley shared with Michael Valiante, and Buddy Rice, who came back from a spin to finish eighth in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche/Coyote co-driven by Antonio Garcia.
Tremblay dominated the early stages of the GT race before cutting a tire, resulting in a long stop. Kelly Collins also led the class in the No. 28 LG Motorsports Corvette.
The next race for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series will be the New Jersey Motorsports Park 250 presented by Crown Royal, set for Sunday, July 19, in Millville, N.J.
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