Pruett Drives Ganassi To Miami Win
Scott Pruett held off a late charge by David Donohue to win Saturday’s Grand Prix of Miami, Round 2 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas scored their second victory in three years at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, holding off the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley of Donohue and pole winner Darren Law by .255 seconds.
In GT, Jeff Segal passed SpeedSource teammate Sylvain Tremblay on the race’s lone restart with 13 minutes remaining and went on to win in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8. It was the third triumph in the last six races for Segal and Emil Assentato.
“I sure didn’t want to see that last caution, but I was happy for the fans,” Pruett said after scoring his 23rd Rolex Series overall victory. “This is tough competition. You never know what’s going to happen until the checkered flag falls. It was pretty exciting in my seat, that’s for sure.”
Donohue was able to pull up to the back of Pruett several times in the closing laps, but was unable to get by. Pruett managed to weave through GT traffic in the infield on the final lap, and maintained the lead through the superspeedway banking.
Alex Gurney finished third in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley started by Jon Fogarty. Burt Frisselle finished fourth in AIM Autosport’s No. 61 Pacific Mobile Ford Riley, followed by Ryan Dalziel in the debut of the No. 8 Starworks BMW Riley started by Mike Forest, the leading Daytona Prototype Pro-Am driver in the event.
A turning point came on Lap 81 of the two-hour, 45-minute race. The cockpit of the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 exploded into flames, and Jordan Taylor came to a stop in the middle of pit road. The blaze was quickly extinguished and the race remained under green, but Taylor’s car was stopped at the center of the pit lane when Law pitted in the race-leading No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
“There was a car on fire, there were people on pit lane, and I almost came to a stop,” Law explained. “I didn’t want to hit anybody. It’s unfortunate, because I lost all of the gap I had gained. Up until then, I was feeling really, really good.”
Taylor was uninjured in the incident, but the Mazda started by Todd Lamb was eliminated after having a strong run.
“It wasn’t as big a fire as it looked,” Taylor said. “It ended up being some of the insulation in the exhaust catching fire.”
Donohue replaced Law on the ensuing pit stop. Pruett took the lead in the exchange and led the rest of the way.
Pruett and Rojas averaged 107.196 mph, completing 129 laps on the 2.3-mile circuit, and took the points lead by six (67-61) over Ryan Dalziel. The race remained caution-free until Lap 115, for debris in Turns 4 and 8. Law led a race-high 71 laps, followed by Pruett with 48. Other race leaders included Fogarty, who led the opening six laps, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who led two laps in the No. 95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley.
Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Terry Borcheller and Dalziel each led one lap in different cars. Borcheller was running in contention in the Daytona-winning No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley. Joao Barbosa, the 2009 Homestead winner seeking his third consecutive Rolex Series victory, went behind the wall early in his shift to replace the heat exchanger.
Tremblay and new regular SpeedSource co-driver Jonathan Bomarito led a GT class leading 44 laps in the Rolex 24 winning No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8.
Tremblay, who led 27 laps, fell back to fourth in the closing laps, but he and Bomarito maintained the points lead by three (63-60) over Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, who finished second in the No. 57 Stevenson Automotive Group/Vin Solutions Camaro. Finishing third were Leh Keen and James Gue in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.
Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished a solid fifth in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6. The car ran only three laps in practice prior to the race and did not qualify due to problems with the power steering. Team owner Will Turner installed a power steering unit from a Daytona Prototype prior to the race, and Auberlen and Hand ran in contention throughout the event, with Hand leading four laps.
Paul Edwards started from the GT pole in the Banner Racing No. 07 Mobil 1 Corvette and led the opening 31 laps before turning the car over to motorcycle legend Scott Russell. Edwards returned to the car for the closing shift, finishing sixth – one position ahead of Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.
Ted Ballou and Andy Lally had the highest-finishing Porsche, placing eighth in the No. 66 AXA Porsche GT3.
The next race for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series will be the April 10 Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.No Comment