Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett celebrate
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. â€“ No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz scored their series-leading fourth victory of the season Friday night in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen, tightening the championship points battle with only two races remaining in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
Pruett took over from Diaz during the fourth of six full-course caution periods on Lap 32 in second place, and passed Guy Cosmo in the No. 09 AMD/Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford for the lead in the first turn on Lap 43 of the 82-lap race. He withstood several challenges from Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley over the remaining laps, and crossed the stripe 0.553 seconds ahead of Angelelli to run his Rolex Series overall victory total to 11. Pruett is the winningest driver in the history of the Daytona Prototype class and is just two victories shy of James Weaverâ€™s Rolex Series record for overall wins.
The winning Ganassi Lexus Riley
â€śThese Ganassi guys made such a great pit stop,â€ť said Pruett. â€śI think whoever made it out first, either us or the (No.) 10 car, was going to win the race. Itâ€™s been great the last three years between Max and me. Heâ€™ll race you hard and race you clean and heâ€™s the best out here. We werenâ€™t quite as happy in practice as weâ€™d like to have been, but made some changes and were very pleased with the car during the race.â€ť
â€śIt feels great to get this win,â€ť said Diaz. â€śThe team put in a lot of great effort to give us a good car. As soon as I started to feel the car on the first few laps, I knew we had a car to win. The Ganassi guys took time to make good pit stops and I gave the car to Scott in good shape. He did the rest.â€ť
Angelelli and co-driver Ryan Briscoe wound up second, giving Angelelli his eighth-consecutive top-four result. Briscoe started the No. 10 car on alongside polesitter Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, and ran behind the second-generation racer throughout his stint. When the lead group of cars headed down pit road during a caution on Lap 33, Briscoe handed the car to Angelelli, but the No. 10 car came out just after the No. 01 Lexus. Despite throttle cable problems in the closing stages, Angelelli kept the pressure on Pruett throughout before settling for second.
â€śScott really was fast today,â€ť said Angelelli. â€śI gave everything I had but just couldnâ€™t get by him. We got lucky because we were losing some throttle towards the end of the race, and clearly Iâ€™m very happy with second place. Now, Iâ€™m ten points closer in the championship and hopefully weâ€™ll have a good finishes at the end of the year.â€ť
Despite competing in just his third Rolex Series event of the season, Briscoe earned his second podium of the season in the No. 10 machine, both coming at Watkins Glen International. The Aussie collaborated with Angelelli and car owner Wayne Taylor to finish third in Juneâ€™s Sahlenâ€™s Six Hours of The Glen in June. Briscoe also finished third in Juneâ€™s Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event at The Glen.
â€śAlex had good pace on all the restarts and we didnâ€™t have speed to pass them,â€ť Briscoe added. â€śWe got a yellow and came to the pits, but unfortunately, the No. 01 car beat us out. I gave the car to Max and he did a great job. We didnâ€™t have the speed to get by Pruett at the end, but again, weâ€™re fortunate with the finish.â€ť
The Daytona Prototype driver championship tightened up somewhat in the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen following a tough outing for points leader Jorg Bergmeister and his No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley co-driver Colin Braun. On a Lap 8 restart following the eveningâ€™s first full-course caution, Braun made contact with the rear of Mario Haberfeldâ€™s No. 12 Loweâ€™s Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley in Turn 1, sending the Brazilian spinning. Simultaneously, the No. 76 machine made side-to-side contact with the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford driven by Michael McDowell, who then collected the spinning No. 12 machine.
For his role in the incident, Braun was given a â€śstop and goâ€ť penalty plus two minutes for avoidable contact, putting the No. 76 machine a lap down. The team rallied back onto the lead lap, and Braun handed control to Bergmeister in a Lap 66 pit stop. Bergmeister then earned a second penalty for getting out of line on the ensuing restart, but battled his way back to finish ninth. The German saw his points lead reduced by 10 points, and is now 29 points ahead of Angelelli, 415-386, with two races remaining. Pruett and Diaz are tied for third in the standings with 383 markers apiece.
The Daytona Prototype team championship is considerably tighter, with just six points separating the top three teams. The No. 76 Krohn Racing team leads with 389 points, followed by the No. 10 SunTrust team with 386 points. The No. 01 team is third with 383 markers.
Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller finished third in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford for the duoâ€™s third-straight podium finish. Rockenfeller ran with the leaders throughout his opening stint, also pitting on Lap 33. Long drove the raceâ€™s final 49 laps and kept pace with Angelelli and Pruett, finishing just 2.092 seconds in arrears of the No. 01 Lexus.
â€śWe started third, and obviously tried to fight for the victory,â€ť said Rockenfeller. â€śWeâ€™re real happy with the finish and real proud of everyone at Ruby Tuesday. I donâ€™t think we had the speed to keep up with the winners, and they didnâ€™t make any mistakes.â€ť
â€śWe got a little bit spoiled at the beginning of the year,â€ť Long added. â€śWe had a mean streak of DNFs in the middle of the season but it makes it that much sweeter for a first year program to stay focused. I made a mistake here in June, but the Ruby Tuesday team never doubted us and weâ€™re happy to be back up near the front in the most competitive field in series history. Weâ€™ll go back and do our homework and finish up the season well.â€ť
Finishing fourth were No. 60 Flight Options/Net App/TSP Lexus Riley co-drivers Oswaldo Negri Jr. and Mark Patterson for Michael Shank Racing. Patterson earned the raceâ€™s Jim Trueman Award honors for the finish. Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante rounded out the top five in the No. 5 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs/Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford.
During the Lap 33 caution when the lead group came down pit road for their driver changes, Gurneyâ€”who was in the lead at the timeâ€”handed control to teammate Jon Fogarty. When Fogarty pulled out of the pits, however, the fueling mechanism was still attached, incurring a â€śstop and goâ€ť penalty. The No. 99 machine wound up 13th at the finishâ€¦ With two races remaining on the 2006 schedule, seven drivers are still mathematically alive in the championship picture. Bergmeister leads the way with 415 points, followed by Angelelli (386), Pruett and Diaz (383), Braun (357), Long and Rockenfeller (348) and McDowell (345)â€¦ In the Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer standings, Pontiac holds a one-point advantage over Lexus (452-451). Ford is third with 344 markersâ€¦ Riley Technologies extended its lead in the Daytona Prototype chassis constructor standings, now 55 points ahead of Crawford Race Cars (507-452)â€¦ The No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Rileyâ€”started 25th by team owner Tracy Krohn and finished by Nic JĂ¶nssonâ€”made up 13 positions during the race en route to a 12th place finish, earning the machine the SunTrust â€śImprove Your Positionâ€ť Award.
Pos Num Class Team Car Laps Best Lap
1. 01 DP Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley 82 1:07.769
2. 10 DP SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley 82 1:07.785
3. 23 DP AJR/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford 82 1:08.229
4. 60 DP Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley 82 1:08.392
5. 5 DP Essex Racing/Finlay Ford Crawford 82 1:08.447
6. 58 DP Brumos Porsche Porsche Fabcar 82 1:08.680
7. 39 DP Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford 82 1:08.587
8. 89 DP Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac Riley 82 1:07.959
9. 76 DP Krohn Racing Ford Riley 82 1:07.648
10. 6 DP Michael Shank Racing/Mear Lexus Riley 82 1:09.380
11. 3 DP Southard Motorsports BMW Riley 82 1:08.771
12. 75 DP Krohn Racing Ford Riley 82 1:08.243
13. 99 DP* Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley 82 1:07.970
14. 30 DP Sigalsport BMW BMW Riley 81 1:08.234
15. 59 DP Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar 81 1:09.982
16. 40 DP Derhaag Motorsports Pontiac Riley 81 1:09.883
17. 09 DP Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford 76 1:09.108
18. 4 DP Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford 57 1:09.088
19. 11 DP CITGO Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley 55 1:08.982
20. 16 DP Howard-Boss/Dyson Pontiac Crawford 54 1:08.766
21. 19 DP Playboy Racing/Finlay Ford Crawford 44 1:08.660
22. 8 DP Synergy Racing Porsche Doran 30 1:09.881
23. 77 DP Doran Racing Ford Doran 30 1:09.819
24. 50 DP Rocketsports Racing Ford Crawford 9 1:27.283
25. 12 DP Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley 7 1:13.356
26. 7 DP Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley 0 No Time