Pruett Makes Last Lap Pass to Win at Daytona
It was the fifth - and most dramatic - victory of 2008 for Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. The winners of the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, Pruett and Rojas extended their Daytona Prototype championship lead to 40 points after their seventh podium finish of the season.
"That Pruett's the man," Chip Ganassi said. "This track rewards great drivers, and it did that tonight. Winning felt good here in Daytona (when Ganassi won his third consecutive Rolex 24), but it felt even better tonight."
The final margin of victory was .081 seconds, bettering the mark Pruett and Luis Diaz set in 2005 at California Speedway when they edged Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli by .096 seconds.
"I had just enough to get by Alex at the start/finish line," said Pruett, who extended his Rolex Series record to 19 victories. "I've got to give it to Grand-Am for putting on a great show."
Gurney and Fogarty were aiming for their second consecutive triumph in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. Gurney passed Pruett for the lead with 22 laps remaining, and led through the final 100 yards of the race.
The 70-lap, 250-mile race ended with a one-lap sprint to the finish following the fifth and final caution when Jeff Segal flipped the second-place No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 after an altercation with a Daytona Prototype. Segal's SpeedSource teammates Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay went on to win their third consecutive race at Daytona.
Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson matched their best showing of the season by finishing third in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola. Fourth came down by a side-by-side battle between Brumos Racing teammates, with Joao Barbosa passing and holding off Darren Law. It marked the best finish of the season for the No. 59 Porsche Riley of Barbosa and JC France, while Law and David Donohue recorded the fourth consecutive top-five finish in the No. 58 Porsche Riley.
The No. 61 AIM Autosport Lexus Riley of pole winner Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle led 16 laps. Frisselle was running third with 16 laps remaining when the car retired with a broken half-shaft. Ryan Dalziel moved up to third in the closing laps in the No. 2 SAMAX Pontiac Riley started by Henri Zogaib, but also retired with a broken half-shaft with six laps remaining.
SpeedSource's Ham, Tremblay win third straight GT race at Daytona
Tremblay bested Bryce Miller by 1.83 seconds to win the Rolex Series GT portion of the Brumos Porsche 250. Tremblay and Ham - who won the pole earlier Thursday - led 37 laps to score their first victory in the No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 since the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and third consecutive triumph from the pole at Daytona.
Miller passed Robin Liddell at the line for his and co-driver Dirk Werner's best finish of the season in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. It marked the sixth podium finish in seven races for Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins finished fourth in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. They maintained their lead in the GT championship standings, with Ham and Tremblay 24 points behind and Liddell and Davis 30 points back.
Ross Smith, driving the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 started by Craig Stone, was involved in an incident with seven laps remaining when he spun after contact with Dalziel. Smith's car was then struck head-on by the No. 97 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette of Jeff Bucknum, who co-drove with James Gue.
Both Smith and Segal were taken to the infield care center, where they were evaluated and released. Smith bruised his knee in the incident.
Four cautions for 16 laps slowed the race's average speed to 102.690 mph.
The Rolex Series returns to action July 19 for the Porsche 250 Presented By Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.
NEWS & NOTES
- The victory is the season-leading fifth Daytona Prototype victory of the season for Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley. This is also the fifth victory for the Lexus Riley.
Scott Pruett (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): "This is pretty big for us because we've never won this specific race in Daytona. Memo did a great job and the crew did a great job. Lexus gave us a good engine package and we got the most out of it. I really didn't think we'd see green after that crash - and it was a horrific crash. I really have to applaud Grand-Am because we, as a group I think, owe it to the fans to see it finish under green. Every restart, that's the only move I had. The No. 99 was certainly quicker in the infield. After about 2 or 3 laps, my rear tires just wouldn't hold on. I pulled a Hail Mary through the bus stop and tried to carry a lot of speed to get them before the start/finish line."
Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): "My part of the race was very boring until the end. It was really just staying out of trouble. Very early, teams took different strategies but we were all in different sequences. So I was basically running by myself. The 99 had the lead in front of me, so I knew it was going to be keeping a good pace and staying out of trouble was important as I handed the car to Scott. Congratulations to Scott, because he did awesome job."
Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "It was a little spooky at the beginning with light rain. The first couple of laps with people were being tentative. I had a pretty uneventful run for the most part. After things shook out through the first corner I was able to maintain that position until the two guys in front pitted and I was able to clear a few laps myself. When I handed it over to Alex, it was looking pretty good."
Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley): "I could see that if I didn't have a certain gap, that he would be able to close up really close or go by. On the last restart I was trying to get as good gap as I could. All those restart are really difficult. Every time you are out there it's tricky to find grip. I knew as soon as I turned back onto the oval that I probably didn't have enough gap. It's definitely a heartbreaker. I know that it's an exciting race for everybody but I can tell you from my seat it's very painful. It's a great Grand-Am race for sure and congratulations to Scott and Memo. I just didn't have enough today, I guess."
Nic Jonsson (No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac): "The car was much better to race. The crew did a fantastic job. I'm very delighted to get back on the podium. I think there is more to come, especially with our strategy and staying out of trouble. I'm proud to be racing with Ricardo. Everyone did an awesome job on our team. I'm very pleased."
Ricardo Zonta (No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac): "I enjoyed it a lot, especially when we stopped for last pit stop. I knew I would have to fight a lot. I think everything went so well during the race. Practice and qualifying was very difficult with all the small problems we had with the car. I had a lot of fun with the race. I think we have to work hard, but everything has to be in the right place at the right moment. I think we are getting better."
Nick Ham (No. 70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "I kinda like this track. It was an all-around great team effort. We had kind of a NASCAR strategy with a quick splash of fuel and maintain tires. With the full course yellow, we lost that advantage. It was tragic what happen to Jeff. But we're very happy."
Sylvain Tremblay (70 SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8): "We had to be cautious, but today was pretty special with three in a row. We are really fortunate and really proud to be a part of this Mazda team. What Nick and I do is just a small part of the whole thing. Being a part of the series is really special."
Robin Liddell (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): "We weren't very confident about getting a superb result tonight, and finishing on the podium is a bonus for us. We're not our strongest on this circuit, so coming out of here with a third place is really a big result. The most important thing for us is putting some pressure on the No. 07 Pontiac car, the point leaders. So this is good for us and I'm really happy."
Andrew Davis (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R): "Two victories and six podiums in seven races is a momentum we'd like to continue for the season. It's great and we'll keep trying to catch up to the top for points. It was a matter of keeping your nose clean tonight. We're proud of the Stevenson Motorsports Team."
Dirk Werner (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT 3): "We wanted to hop on the train in terms of success like the No. 86 car from last race. I tried to just stay up front. Mazda's big advantage was not having to change tires. I'm really proud of the whole team. It was a big effort to stay motivated at this point in the season when you only see bad results all the time."
Bryce Miller (No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT 3): "It's nice to have the experience to close a race. Farnbacher Loles did a great job giving us a good car today. I thought Robin had me there in the bus stop, but I was really pleased to see these results. Since Dirk and I have been apart, we've had a bit of a dry spell. It's very special to share this."
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