Fogarty, GAINSCO Victorious at Laguna Seca
Jon Fogarty passed Scott Pruett at the entrance to the Corkscrew with 22 laps remaining in Sunday’s 106-lap Verizon Festival of Speed and held on to give the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley its second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 victory of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
In GT, Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to score their first victory of the season in the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8.
Fogarty started and finished the race, run under sunny skies and 91-degree temperatures. Alex Gurney drove the middle shift to give the team its 10th Rolex Series victory, beating the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley started by pole sitter Memo Rojas by 7.228 seconds.
While it was the 10th time Fogarty and Gurney co-drove to win – following up their seven-victory championship season in 2007 – it marked the first time Fogarty actually took the checkered flag at the finish.
“We weren’t sure if I had been in the car the required 30 minutes to score points,” Fogarty said. “We considered leaving Alex in, but we figured since it’s early in the season it was important for both of us to score points. On the winning pass, Scott got caught up in traffic in Turn 6 - and your momentum gets killed at that part of the track – so I had a good run and made it three-wide at that point. I got off into the gravel, but I was able to get back on the tarmac and outbraked him. I really almost didn’t make it.”
The victory allowed Fogarty and Gurney to take the Daytona Prototype point lead. Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Darren Law and David Donohue finished eighth in the Brumos Porsche Riley, and fell to second in the standings, eight points behind (119-111).
Rojas led the an event-high 44 laps in the race, with Pruett pacing 20 circuits in a bid to give them their first victory of the season.
The final 18 minutes were run under the green flag. Fogarty made his pass for the lead moments before the fourth and final caution, and then slowly pulled away after the final restart.
“We got caught up behind a GT car and had our momentum broke,” Pruett said. “It was good, hard racing. He got his nose in there and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Max Angelelli finished third in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara started by Brian Frisselle, followed by Burt Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley started by Mark Wilkins. For Wilkins and Burt Frisselle, it was their best finish of 2009.
Michael Shank Racing took fifth and seventh positions, with Ozz Negri and Mark Patterson fifth in the No. 60 Ford Riley, and Michael Valiante and John Pew taking seventh in the team’s No. 6. In between was the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.
Much of the race was run under the green flag, with two cautions early in the event and a pair during the closing half-hour. The first incident occurred when Rolex 24 winner Justin Marks had a water leak in the TRG No. 67 Construct Corps Porsche GT3 and spun directly in front of the leaders on lap 10. Marks stopped on course to bring out the caution. The car co-driven by Andy Lally was able to continue after losing 30 laps in the pits.
“I saw the car spinning, but I was able to get our car in a direction where I would not hurt anything,” said Rojas, who was pressured by Fogarty and Brian Frisselle at the time.
The second caution waved 30 minutes into the race when Scott Tucker went off and was stuck in a gravel trap. He was able to continue, with Christophe Bouchut taking over the No. 55 Supercar Life Racing BMW Riley to finish ninth in class.
After a long green-flag stretch, Wayne Nonnamaker was stranded in the gravel in the No. 43 Sahlen’s Corvette with less than an hour remaining – erasing a seven-second lead for Pruett.
The fourth caution waved with 30 minutes remaining, when Mike Forest lost power in the Beyer Racing No. 13 Honda Riley and stopped on the track.
The Comptech Honda engine made its Daytona Prototype debut in the No. Beyer Racing No. 5 Lennox Riley Comptech Honda Riley. Jordan Taylor went out eight laps into the race with an electrical systems problem.
Also experiencing problems was the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola. Nic Jonsson – winner with Ricardo Zonta in the most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park – spun in the Corkscrew while trying to hold off Alex Gurney. A broken splitter resulted in the team’s third DNF in four races.
Fogarty and Gurney completed 106 laps on the 2.238-mile circuit, averaging 85.807 mph.
Tremblay, Ham Win First GT Race of Season for Mazda
Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to lead 84 laps to give the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 its first Grand-Am Rolex Series Acxiom GT victory of the campaign.
Ham started on the pole and led four times for 50 laps. Tremblay took over and led the final 34 circuits after taking the lead from Paul Edwards.
“Last year I made a small mistake here and went from first to third,” Tremblay said. “This year I wasn’t going to make that mistake. Our car did a great job preparing our Mazda RX-8, and how can you not capitalize on that, our car was that good.”
Ham, who won his series-leading second pole on Saturday, agreed with his co-driver.
”Our car was that good; it was just a matter of grinding out the laps,” Ham said. “It was my job just to get the car to halfway.”
Edwards and Kelly Collins teamed to lead for nine laps in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. They held on to finish second, 8.23 seconds behind.
Leh Keen and Dirk Werner, winner of the most recent event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finished third in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3.
Fourth went to Ted Ballou and Spencer Pumpelly in the TRG No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber Porsche GT3, followed by Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal in the SpeedSource No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
Pumpelly retains the Acxiom GT point lead, one ahead of Keen and Werner (117-116).
The next action for the Grand-Am Rolex Series will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 6 at Watkins Glen International. The Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge will race May 23-25 in the traditional Memorial Day weekend event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Ct.
News and Notes (Daytona Prototype):
- This is the second win of the season for Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney in the Daytona Prototypes. They won together two races ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Both victories came from the third starting position.
- This is the 10th Daytona Prototype victory for Fogarty and Gurney, all of which have come together. The two have the most victories for a duo in Daytona Prototype history. The victory keeps the two third in all-time Daytona Prototype victories, two behind Max Angelelli.
- Fogarty and Gurney are the only two drivers with multiple victories this season in Daytona Prototype competition.
- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing remains third in all-time Daytona Prototype team victories with 10, two behind SunTrust Racing.
- Gurney moved into a tie with Wayne Taylor for third in Daytona Prototype podium finishes with 21, while Fogarty moved to fourth in GT podiums with 20.
- Fogarty turned the race’s fastest lap, 1:20.533, on Lap 97. This is also the first time Fogarty has finished a race in which he and Gurney have won in Rolex Series competition.
- This is the 33rd victory for a Pontiac engine in Daytona Prototype competition. Pontiac has two victories this season to lead all manufacturers – Ford and Porsche have one each.
- All three podium positions were represented by different manufacturers – Pontiac, Ford and Lexus. Ford put three cars in the top five.
- Pontiac tied Porsche with most Rolex Series overall victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with two.
- Riley earned its 57th victory in the Daytona Prototypes and third in four races on the 2009 season. Rileys have three victories this season, while Lola is the only other chassis constructor with a victory. Rileys took four of the top five finishes and nine of the top-10 Daytona Prototype results.
- Riley has won four of five Rolex Series races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
- Max Angelelli and Brian Frisselle earned their second straight runner-up finish in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara. Angelelli increased his all-time Daytona Prototype career podium mark to 37, which remains second. The duo also made Dallara the only constructor other than Riley with a top-10 result. Frisselle is the only driver this season who has led all four Daytona Prototype races.
- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas earned their second podium finish of the season in the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley. Pruett earned his series-leading 42nd career Daytona Prototype podium finish in the process, and the pair broke a two-race streak of finishing outside the top five. Rojas led a race-high 44 laps, nearly doubling his previous count of 45 to 89 total for the season.
- Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins started and finished fourth in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley, both season bests.
- Mark Patterson and Ozz Negri earned their best finish of the season – fifth – in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley. The two have three top-10 finishes together at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
- The highest running Porsche-powered car was sixth, with Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard in the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley for Penske Racing. The team incurred a stop-and-go penalty for jumping a late restart. Though he did not lead a lap, Bernhard remains the season’s lap leader with 117 in front.
- The average speed of 85.807 mph was a track record, besting the previous mark of 80.606 mph.
- Sunday’s race tied a track record for fewest caution periods (four) and caution laps (15) in a Rolex Series race. In 2007, the GT race had only four caution periods.
- The 106 laps, and 237-plus miles, completed were race records.
- Eight cars finished on the lead lap (106).
- Six drivers in four cars led laps: Memo Rojas (44), Jon Fogarty (23), Scott Pruett (20), Brian Frisselle (17), Romain Dumas (1), Alex Gurney (1).
- Climbing the most sports in the race was the No. 55 SuperCar Life Racing BMW Riley with Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker behind the wheel.
- A total of 1,009 laps have been completed in Daytona Prototype competition this season.
News and Notes (GT):
- This is the first victory of the season for Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham and their No. 70 Castrol Syntec/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8. The two won from the pole position, their third for four races.
Tremblay and Ham each earned their seventh victories – all coming together. Their last victory came in 2008 at Barber Motorsports Park. The pair finished second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2008.
- Ham led a race-high 50 of 101 laps, or just under 50 percent. Total, Ham and Tremblay led 84 laps.
- This is the first time this season a polesitter has won a race in GT competition.
- Ham and Tremblay are the 10th and 11th drivers to win in GT competition in 2009.
- Tremblay turned the race’s fastest lap, 1:27.157, on Lap 91.
- Mazda earned its eighth GT manufacturer victory, tying the marquee with Ferrari for sixth on the list. Mazda also earned its 15th podium finish.
- There were three different manufacturers represented on the podium – Mazda, Pontiac and Porsche. It marked the first time this season that this has occurred.
Reigning race winners Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards finished second in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. The two have finished first or second in each of the last three races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Collins, who led five laps, is the only driver this season to have led all four GT races.
- Finishing third in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 were Dirk Werner and Leh Keen. It marked the pair’s second straight podium finish, as they won the most previous race at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Their result gave Porsche earned its 245th GT podium finish.
- TRG, based in Petaluma, Calif., earned a race-best fourth with Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou driving the No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber Porsche GT3. The two also made up a race-high six positions from start (10th) to finish.
SpeedSource put two cars in the top five, as the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 finished fifth with Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato behind the wheel. It was the pair’s best finish of 2009 in GT competition.
- Six cars finished on the GT lead lap (101).
- Seven drivers in five GT cars led laps: Nick Ham (50), Sylvain Tremblay (34), Robin Liddell (5), Kelly Collins (5), Paul Edwards (4), Leh Keen (2), Ted Ballou (1).
– Courtesy of Grand-Am SeriesNo Comment