Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pruett and Rajos Take Grand Am DP Win at Barber; Mazda Wins GT Class

Photo Credit: Grand Am

With the IZOD IndyCar Series set for their inaugural race on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, the 2.38 mile race track saw the familiar face of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Saturday for the 2.5 hour Porsche 250. The first major series to open Barber Motorsports Park in 2003, the Rolex Sports Car Series brings the wide array of cars from Daytona Prototypes and the GT Class.

On the drop of the green flag, the pole-sitting #10 SunTrust-sponsored Ford Dallara leaped to an early lead in the hands of Ricky Taylor. Stretching out a 4.796 second interval over the 2nd place runner, the SunTrust Racing team showed dominance through the early pace. In the GT category, a quartet of Mazda RX-8s were fighting for the top spot in the production-based class. On lap 2, the lead in GT changed as the #30 RX-8 of Jordon Taylor passed the #70 SpeedSource RX-8.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

The first full-caution of the Porsche 250 was thrown on lap 14 as Tracy Krohn overshot turn 10 where after the #75 Ford Dallara was slowed by a sand trap and a large foam barrier along the wall. Following the yellow flag, a new leader emerged for DP class as the #8 Corsa Car Care BMW Riley benefiting from not pitting under the caution period.

On lap 21, the caution flew again at Barber Motorsports Park for a DP race car. This time, it was a blown engine on the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley. Team owner Bob Stallings looked on as two of the first three races of the 2010 Grand Am Rolex Series saw his #99 GAINSCO car parked prematurely. "Jon came on line and said he thought we lost the motor. There was a big vibration and then a big pop, and he said it sounded like something actually went through the side (of the engine)." Stallings said.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

The Corsa Car Care BMW Riley headed to pit lane relinquishing the DP lead to the #61 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley being driven by Mark Wilkins. With the Michael Shank vehicle comfortable in the top position for 17 laps, the Ford-powered Riley fall to the #01 Target Chip Ganassi Racing-owned BMW Riley. Piloted by Memo Rojas, the TELMEX-supported ride took control of the middle course of the Porsche 250 from lap 39 to lap 64. Within the time that the #01 BMW Riley took the lead, a battle in GT ignited as a challenger emerged against the Mazda brigade. One of the my new for 2010 cars to the Grand Am Rolex Series, the #07 Corvette piloted by Paul Edwards consistently lapped faster than the #70 SpeedSource team RX-8. On lap 54, Edwards completed the pass to take the Corvette to the front of GT. Unfortunately, this lead would be short-lived as the #07 Corvette would lose control on track spinning out. While Paul Edwards was able to regather the race car, the Corvette lost the class lead to the #69 SpeedSource Mazda now driven by Jeff Segal.

Driver changes took place beyond the halfway mark of the Porsche 250. Lap 62 saw than 2nd place Ricky Taylor come to the attention of pit road exiting the #10 to allow co-driver Max Angelelli to take the Ford Dallara through the anchor stage of the Barber Motorsports Park sports car event. "It was all going very good. I got held up in traffic and struggled a little. Hopefully we have good track position - I know Max can do it. At the start, the car was very good in clean air." Ricky Taylor commented after leaving the #10 SunTrust car.

Two laps later, Memo Rojas surrendered his race-leading #01 TELMEX BMW Riley to American teammate Scott Pruett. The #59 Brumos Porsche Riley in the hands of David Donohue briefly held first but would pit on lap 67 providing the lead back to the #01 BMW Riley.

With a 3rd race caution flying on lap 68 for a parked #19 Corvette driven by Andy Lally, the green restarted the race action on lap 73. Within the vehicle grouping, the #9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley was sent off course. Joao Barbosa wheeled the #9 car would finish the Porsche 250 10th in class indicating that the honeymoon for winning the 24-hour of Daytona is apparently over.

At lap 75, Scott Pruett in the #01 BMW Riley was holding first position over the #60 Crown Royal XR Ford Riley being wheeled by Ozz Negri. Ryan Dalziel and Max Angelelli followed to complete the top-4. In GT, with the efforts of the #07 Corvette going south, the Mazda Rx-8s were seated in the first four in class standings. The #94 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 being steered by Bill Auberlen running 5th was the highest running non-Mazda.

With the last 33 laps saw the Chip Ganassi-owned BMW Riley run away to their second overall victory of the year crossing the finish line first at Barber Motorsports Park. Negri and Dalziel brought their respective cars to podium in the Daytona Prototype class.

Photo Credit: Grand Am

In GT Class, Jeff Segal held off the fellow Mazda RX-8s driven by Jordan Taylor and his SpeedSource car owner Sylvain Tremblay to win the Grand Am category. The #57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT.R would rally to the 4th place in class.

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