Grand-Am Watkins Glen preview
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet/Riley) returned to GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype championship-winning form in the recent Rolex Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, when Gurney passed Scott Pruett (No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley) for the lead with less than two laps remaining.
It was the 13th victory for Gurney and Fogarty as a driving combination, but first of 2010.
Gurney and Fogarty look to continue that momentum in the next event on the Rolex Series schedule the Crown Royal 200 on Saturday at Watkins Glen International. The pair won that event in 2007, one of a Rolex Series record seven triumphs en route to winning the DP championship for the first time.
Fogarty extended his series record to 15 pole positions in qualifying at New Jersey, scoring his first pole of 2010 after qualifying on the point for the final five races of 2009.
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team used a third driver during the most recent visit of the Rolex Series to the historic circuit located in the New York Finger Lakes Region. Four-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson joined the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team in a sixth-place finish at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June - which he followed up by scoring his first road course victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition at Infineon Raceway.
Emphasis At Glen Shifts From Endurance To Sprint Racing
Just two months ago, GRAND-AM Rolex Series competitors tackled Watkins Glen International's famed 3.4-mile long course in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen - the second-longest race on the Rolex Series schedule. The Six Hours dates back to 1968, while The Glen's long course hosted Formula 1 from 1971-1980.
When the Rolex Series competitors return to The Glen on Saturday, they will tackle North America's fastest road course, the 2.45-mile short course. Davy Jones lapped the circuit in 58.699 seconds-150.335 mph-at the wheel of a Camel GTP Jaguar XJR-14 in 1992.
At two hours, the race shares honors with the Montreal 200 on Aug. 28 as shortest on the series schedule.
This marks the ninth time the Rolex Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series share the bill at The Glen. Nic JÃ¶nsson (No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford/Lola) won last year's race and returns with Tracy Krohn this weekend. Mark Wilkins (No. 61 Pacific Mobile/BioSign Ford/Riley) and Brian Frisselle (No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Dallara) scored a dominating win for AIM Autosport in 2008.
The eventual DP team titlists have won the last four races-Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in 2007; Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz in 2006; Max Angelelli (No. 10 SunTrust Ford/Dallara) and Wayne Taylor in 2005; and Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller (No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley) in 2003.
Assentato, Segal Bring GT Point Lead, Strong WGI History To Crown Royal 200
Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal (No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8) have plenty of history on their side when they take the Rolex Series GT championship lead into the Crown Royal 200.
The pair-joined by SpeedSource team associate Nick Longhi-captured their first Rolex Series victory in the 2008 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Their next victory was again at Watkins Glen in the 2009 Crown Royal 200.
Since then, they have been among the toughest combinations in the GT class. They added a victory at Miller Motorsports Park late in 2009. After taking last-place points in the 2010 season-opening Rolex 24, the pair won the next two races-at Homestead Miami-Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park-opening a string of eight straight top fours and five podiums.
Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito (No. 70 Castrol/Syntec Mazda RX-8) captured GT victory in the most recent race, at New Jersey Motorsports Park, their second Rolex Series victory of 2010 and first since the Rolex 24. SpeedSource swept the New Jersey podium, while team owner Tremblay moved up to second in points. Assentato and Segal finished third at New Jersey to maintain an eight-point lead in the championship (262-254).
Andy Lally (No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3) entered the New Jersey event second in points on the strength of three wins although a ninth-place finish dropped him to third, 17 points behind.
Patterson Rejoins Rolex Series, Joins Von Moltke In Doran Racing's â€˜Vuvuzela Car'
South Africa was in the international spotlight throughout much of the summer with the staging of one of the most successful World Cup soccer tournaments ever held.
Continuing momentum from that event, an all-South African car will compete in two upcoming GRAND-AM Rolex Series Daytona Prototype races, at Watkins Glen International and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Mark Patterson will make his return to Rolex Series competition, joining Dion von Moltke (No. 77 South African Airways/McDonald's/PRNewswire Ford/Dallara). The car, operated by the Doran Racing stable, will be painted with a striking design-the South African flag covering the car from nose to tail.
"Having spent five great years with one Ohio DP team, I'm happy to have been able to sign up for The Glen and Montreal with another fine Ohio squad led by Kevin Doran," said Patterson. "Teaming up with another family with South African roots, the von Moltke's, Dion and I will share the Vuvuzela car with the most outrageous design ever seen in a GRAND-AM race."
Patterson, a born-and-bred South African (Port Elizabeth) who now makes Bronxville, N.Y., his home, is a two-time winner of the prestigious Jim Trueman Award, presented annually to the top Pro-Am driver in the DP ranks.
Von Moltke, who lives in Coral Gables, Fla., but also calls South Africa home, has competed in eight races this year with Doran Racing. His best finish of the season came at Barber Motorsports Park, when he finished fourth driving with Memo Gidley (No. 42 Team Sahlen's Mazda RX-8).
Rolex Series: By The Numbers
2.45 - Length of track, in miles, of the short course at Watkins Glen International.
Pruett, Rojas Hold DP Point Lead; Roush Racing's Johnson Set For NASCAR Debut
While Scott Pruett (No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley) suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the most recent Rolex Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, his second-place finish behind Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet/Riley) took the TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates a giant step closer to a third Daytona Prototype team championship.
Pruett's No. 01 suffered a cut tire with less than two laps remaining at New Jersey. However, the second place finish-coupled with a fifth-place showing by Ryan Dalziel (No. 8 Corsa Car Care BMW/Riley)-enabled Pruett and Memo Rojas to extend their lead in the DP championship to 19 points (267-248). It did, however, end the team's three-race winning streak and a bid for a record fourth consecutive DP win.
The Chip Ganassi Racing duo have six victories in nine 2010 events, one shy of Gurney and Fogarty's record seven from 2007.
Pruett has a solid record at The Glen. He and Rojas won the past three runnings of the Sahlen's Six Hours, while Pruett and Luis Diaz won the 2006 Crown Royal 200.
But there are obvious differences between the two races at The Glen.
"The Crown Royal 200 here in August is a whole different set of circumstances than the Sahlen's Six Hours," Pruett said. "It's a shorter race. The track itself is shorter and requires a different setup. You don't approach the two races the same way. When we come back here in August, we'll be focused on racing for only a couple of hours instead of racing for six hours."
Memo Gidley Joins Team Sahlen: Memo Gidley (No. 42 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8) will co-drive in the Crown Royal 200, sharing a pair of Mazda RX-8s with Joe Sahlen and the family team of Joe, Will and Wayne Nonnamaker (No. 43 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8).
Sahlen is the owner of the Buffalo Flash that won the USL Women's League soccer championship this past weekend, defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps in the finals.
Another Spirited Podium Awaiting?: Spirit of Daytona Racing has been around in some capacity since GRAND-AM Road Racing's inception in 2000, and for the first time in its history, the team earned a podium finish in the Daytona Prototype class in June. Drivers Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia (No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche/Coyote) earned third-place in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
SoD has seven straight top 10s in 2010 and could be a threat to reach victory lane Saturday. Rice has two Rolex Series victories at WGI-both in the SRP class-while Garcia debuted at the track in 2007 with Cheever Racing.
Johnson Set For NASCAR Debut: Billy Johnson teamed with co-driver Jack Roush Jr. to give car owner Jack Roush Sr. his 400th career victory earlier this season in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. This weekend, the 23-year-old Californian will make his NASCAR debut when he drives Roush Racing's No. 6 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion in Saturday's Nationwide Series race.
"It's a huge honor and I'm extremely excited to do this race," Johnson said. "I'm very thankful to the whole Roush organization for giving me this opportunity."
Johnson, a graduate of Cal State University- Fullerton with a degree in marketing, is an eight-time winner in Continental Tire Challenge action. He joined Roush Racing midway through the 2009 season, winning at Miller Motorsports Park and earning three podium finishes. This season, he and Roush won the most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park for their second victory.
Analyzing The Crown Royal 200 At The Glen
The first GRAND-AM Rolex Series race at the track was in 2000, with James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace winning overall in the SR class. Weaver and Leitzinger also won a pair of sprint races the following season.
Scott Pruett leads all Rolex Series drivers in victories at Watkins Glen with five and is tied with James Weaver in pole positions with three.
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