Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas scored their fourth Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype victory of the season Saturday at Watkins Glen International, capturing the 27th running of the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
Pruett, who ran the final three hours in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley in temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, took the lead from Ricardo Zonta with 45 minutes remaining in the event when Zonta pitted for his final pit stop. He came away with a 3.033-second margin of victory over 2003 race co-winner David Donohue in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
Pruett also won the event in 2004, the same season he and Max Papis won the Daytona Prototype title. Three of the last four Sahlen's Six Hours winners have gone on to claim the championship. Pruett and Rojas - who started 16th after an abbreviated qualifying session Friday - now have a 36-point advantage over Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews in the standings.
Overall, Pruett led a race-high 39 of the 179 laps, including the final 24. Fourteen drivers traded the lead 20 times.
Donohue and co-driver Darren Law finished a season-best second after starting from the fourth position. Polesitter Max Angelelli and co-driver Michael Valiante finished a season-best third in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, just 19 days after the team lost its primary car, transporter and equipment in a fire along a Texas highway. Angelelli led the first lap and Valiante also led six laps.
Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson finished fourth in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, while Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger posted the team's season-best finish of fifth in the No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara. The top four finishers all competed in cars powered by different engine manufacturers.
Segal, Assentato and Longhi Garner Initial Rolex Series Victory
In GT, class polesitter Jeff Segal passed Paul Edwards with 33 minutes remaining to give him and co-drivers Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi their first career Rolex Series victories. It marked the first victory for a Mazda-powered car in the series since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, where the trio's SpeedSource teammates won North America's premiere sports car racing endurance race.
Segal, driving the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8, won by 5.817 seconds over Robin Liddell, who co-drove with Andrew Davis in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.
Third were class point leaders Edwards and Kelly Collins in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R, followed by Lawson Aschenbach and Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R and Kevin O'Connell and Kevin Roush in the No. 27 O'Connell Racing Porsche GT3.
Nine cautions for 27 laps slowed the winner's average speed to 101.018 mph.
The Grand-Am Rolex Series will continue with the EMCO Gears Classic on June 21 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The race will be televised live on SPEED at 5 p.m. ET.
NEWS & NOTES
- Following the race, the shock absorbers of the top three finishing Daytona Prototypes were collected by Grand-Am for a random inspection.
- The victory is the series-leading fourth Rolex Series 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.
- Pruett and Rojas extend their consecutive podium streak to six. In addition to the duo's four victories (Rolex 24 At Daytona, Homestead-Miami Speedway, VIR, Sahlen's Six Hours), Pruett and Rojas also have finishes of second (Mexico City) and third (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca).
- This is the fourth victory of the season for Lexus power. Pontiac and BMW won the other two races.
- Riley Chassis has won all Daytona Prototype races and 16 dating back to last year's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. The manufacturer also swept the top four positions.
- This is the fifth race this season
the winning team has started from outside the top 10.
- David Donohue and Darren Law scored their best finish of the season, a second-place result. The pair's previous best was at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where they finished fifth after starting on the pole.
- SunTrust Racing drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante scored their best finish of the season at Watkins Glen, third. Their previous season-best was fifth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, also in their Riley chassis.
- Michael Shank Racing teammates Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson mustered their fifth top-10 finish of 2008 with a fourth-place run.
- Doran Racing teammates Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger finished a season-best finish at Watkins Glen. Previously, their season-best was seventh in the Mexico City 250 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
- Fourteen drivers in 20 cars led laps in the race. Among those were Scott Pruett (39), Darren Law (35), David Donohue (34), Ian James (21), Alex Gurney (12), Memo Gidley (10), Brian Frisselle (8), Mark Wilkins (7), Ricardo Zonta (6), Michael Valiante (6), Matt Plumb (5), Antonio Garcia (4), Nic Jonsson (1), Max Angelelli (1).
- The newest Crawford, contested by Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, finished 16th after starting in 19th.
- Of the nine caution periods, all were for spins, light contact and stalled cars.
- Ten Daytona Prototypes finished all 179 laps of the race.
- The No. 47 Doran Racing Ford Dallara became the latest burn victim, as the car caught fire in the track's boot area. Driver Richard Antinucci got out of the car under his own power.
- The GT win by Jeff Segal, Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi was the trio's first Rolex Series victory and the second of the season for SpeedSource. Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos won the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
- Segal, Assentato and Longhi's win was the second Mazda victory this season and first since the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Pontiac entered the Sahlen's Six Hours with five consecutive GT victories.
- All seven teams that have won Rolex Series GT races have been won from the front two rows, including four from the front row. Segal's pole and victory was the first time since the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami that the team that won the pole also won the race.
- Second-place GT finishers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell have finished on the podium in four of their seven GT starts this season. They have combined for two victories.
- With their third-place finish, point co-leaders Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards have nine straight top-10 finishes, dating back to last season. The pair has not finished worse than seventh this season.
- Three GT cars finished on the lead lap.
- Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr. suffered a severe dent in the GT championship standings when George got together with Joe Foster in the famed bus stop turn. Repairs allowed both cars to get back on track, though both several laps down. Pumpelly and George, in the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3, each garnered points for their efforts. The car was running second in points prior to the Sahlen's Six Hours.
- Defending Rolex Series GT champion Dirk Werner's season continued to be a struggle for the German. Wolf Henzler, who qualified third in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3, was attempting to get past the spinning car of Roberto Garcia and the No. 29 Porsche GT3 when the No. 29 came down into the back of the No. 87. Werner jumped into the car for nearly 18 minutes before the car was retired.
- Kevin O'Connell and Kevin Roush finished a career-best fifth in the No. 27 O'Connell Racing Porsche GT3.
Scott Pruett (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): (from podium) "Hard driving. It was a great day for our team. Memo did a great job. We pulled a wicker about half way through. We just had a fast car today. We just did what we had to do. It's been awesome so far." (from press room) "I did
about one hour and 15 minutes at the start, 3 hours there at the end. As the track rubbered up, it got a little tighter. We did what we had to do. The Pirellis hung in great. It's awesome to see the No. 10 guys up here. It says a lot about our sport. You saw a lot of peopled help out. I hope to do the same thing in August. Sure they call this a 6 hour race, but this is a 6 hour SPRINT race. There was no relaxing. That's what's impressive about these cars. They are so robust; you can just drive the wheels off these things. We've had a dream start to this season. We owe a lot to Lexus; they work real hard. Memo has stepped up his game. Everything has gelled. This is a big strategy change from last year. Hey, we started from pit lane today. As far as it being hot, I guess I'm just old and don't know any better. It doesn't bother me a lot. I'm fortunate. Sure it's tough. Any driver who is serious trains hard. I guess I'm lucky that way that it doesn't bother me so much."
Memo Rojas (No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley): (from podium) "We just tried to focus on staying out of trouble. Great team effort. It's all part of the hard work of the guys." (from press room) "First I want to congratulate the SunTrust guys for what they've done. We did what we had to do to stay out of trouble. We tried to keep a good pace. Things went great. Scott stayed in the car for 3 hours. He's a bad-ass. I don't know how he does it."
David Donohue (No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley): "For us this is a great result. We wanted the win for a lot of different reasons. The way we've been going so far, we've been fast but we've messed up on strategy. We've never qualified outside the top 4. We just need to improve one more spot."
Darren Law (No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley): "We had a bit of a tough time on restarts. I was surprised I was getting loose going up the hill. The team has really come together. It's a good result for us."
Max Angelelli (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley): "I wanted it for the guys because they worked so hard. We had lost everything. I mean everything. I have to thank the guys and Team Ganassi for giving us everything. We'll be racing the Riley until Mid Ohio. It was really difficult with the heat. I was pushing. I consume a lot of energy when I drive. I wanted this podium so badly. I think I called onto God.
Michael Valiante (No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley): "We really owe it to the team. The team has done an unbelievable job after the fire. The car was flawless. Max did a great job in the end with no cool suit. We owe it to the team just to be here. Many times we came away from races asking what went wrong. Hopefully, all our bad luck went up in smoke with the fire. It's easy to bet depressed. We've stayed optimistic. That's a key for this team. We're trying to get consistent results. We want to get back in the swing of things."
Mark Patterson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): "This was a perfect outcome after a truly exciting race. Oswaldo did another amazing job and I can't believe how strong he was up to the very last lap that he ran, even in this heat. The car was just fantastic, all day and just allowed me to do nearly everything I asked it to do. It was a pleasure to have the car that in tune. Those closing laps, if you weren't on the edge of your seat, check for a pulse because that was some spectacular racing!"
Mark Patterson (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley): "We got great calls from our engineers Dave and Jeff all day long and the car was just fantastic. I don't know how many laps we had on the tires at the end, but the car was still handling fine and I was able to fight to the checkered flag. We were hoping to be on the podium but I just got caught out in that traffic and Max shoved me out of the way. But it was some good close Grand Am racing and I knew he didn't have anything to lose. But we are trying to get everything we can in this
championship so I had to keep that in mind. I have to also say that I am really proud not just of this team, but also of the job Mark did out there, he just keeps getting better and better."
Jon Fogarty (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley): "The overheating thing is kind of a mystery," Fogarty said. "We really don't know what it was, but as soon as I got in the car things weren't going well. We had the radio antennae plate fall down in front of my face and that was a big issue for awhile. There was also a little bit of questionable tactics out there by one of the Krohn guys checking up on us, but all in all the crew did a great job, getting our lap back and keeping us in the game."
"Tons of things to overcome - the nose damage, the radio deal, the punctured tire, overheating - it was a rough one. We will get back to our old ways of winning, though, for sure. The odds of these kinds of things continuing just can't go that way."
Alex Gurney (No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley): "We obviously had a great car and it was fun driving through the field in the first hour," Gurney said. "We were encouraged about the rest of the day but after my second stint when Jon got in, I guess (Eric) van de Poele brake-checked him and it started to cascade from there. We had to change two noses and the whole last three hours or so it was overheating pretty badly, so I wasn't able to contend. So, again, we had some pace, but no result."
Jeff Segal (No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8): "It's been a great few weeks for me. The car was awesome. That car just keeps going; the motor that is. We had trouble with power steering and the cool suit."
Emil Assentato (No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8): "It's a great track to win at. I've been racing here since 1973. The car ran flawlessly. We didn't have a working cool suit for most of the race. The younger guys did great. In the second stint, the power steering went, followed by no more coolant being sent to the helmet."
Nick Longhi (No. 69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX-8): "We had trouble on our first pit stop. This track suits our car with the long straights and fast corners."
Andrew Davis (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R): "First we had a driver ID plug that gave us a problem. We figured out what we needed to do to overcome the tire issue. Robin did a great job."
Robin Liddell (No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive/BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R): "Sadly we didn't have anything for the No. 69. Paul and I had a good race at the end. Unfortunately for him, Paul made a little error and I was able to get by. We've been dealing with the rule change and we're working the rear tires much harder. We were either having trouble in races and we wanted to get a good result. It solidifies what we're doing as a team."
Paul Edwards (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): "The first stint we really blistered the rear tires. It was an unknown for us. The weight distribution on the front end made us work. We stayed out of trouble most of the day. Robin got by and that was it. I tried to keep all the pressure I could on Robin. I couldn't make them make a mistake. Kelly did an iron-man stint in the middle. It was a lucky day for us. A good result today."
Kelly Collins (No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R): "First off, we had a big weight penalty put on us. Our team did a great job. We kept the car clean. We actually gained some points."