ZONTA, JONSSON WIN CROWN ROYAL 200 AT WATKINS GLEN; PRUETT, ROJAS TAKE POINT LEAD BY FINISHING SECOND
Segal, Assentato Score First GT Victory of Season in FXDD Mazda
By: WGI Staff on 8/7/2009
Ricardo Zonta held of a late charge by Scott Pruett to help him and teammate Nic Jonsson win the 2009 Crown Royal 200 at The Glen.
Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson gave the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola its second victory of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season Friday at Watkins Glen International, winning the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen.
Zonta led the final 21 circuits, holding off Scott Pruett by 3.325 seconds to win the two-hour event on the Watkins Glen 2.45-mile short circuit despite flat-spotting his tires on the final restart.
"We were not happy after qualifying," said Jonsson, who started eighth, the furthest a race-winning car has come from in 2009. "Then we changed the car completely around, using the same setup we used here in the Sahlen's Six Hours. Even though the long course we raced in June is very different from the short course we raced tonight, it worked out."
Zonta and Jonsson finished ninth at Watkins Glen in June, in a race won by Pruett and Rojas. It was the third Daytona Prototype victory for Jonsson - who won the 2005 Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen with team owner Tracy Krohn - and second for Zonta.
"We've had some small problems in the last three races, and we did not qualify well here," Zonta said. "From qualifying to the race we found what was missing with the balance of the car. The race was very difficult. When I got the lead over Scott, I thought I could maintain the gap. But then Scott closed in, and it became very risky with the traffic. But at the end, everything was okay."
The second-place finish gave Pruett and Memo Rojas sole possession of the point lead with only three races remaining in the Daytona Prototype championship. The drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley, fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, took a four-point lead over fourth-place finishers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley fielded by Bob Stallings Racing (248-244), after entering the event tied for the lead.
"It seemed everyone was out of sequence, and everyone was doing different strategies," said Rojas, who led twice for 22 laps. "We were doing a conservative strategy because of the points. If you gamble, things can go really wrong, and tonight the points worked out for us."
Pruett ran second to Zonta down the stretch, but could not get by for the race lead.
"Ricardo could be absolutely more aggressive," Pruett said. "We just didn't have quite enough for him tonight. Traffic was very interesting down the stretch. We did everything we had to do. In a race like this, every point counts."
Fogarty led the opening five laps from the pole before being passed by Rojas. Timo Bernhard led five laps in Penske Racing's No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley before pitting. Other leaders included Brian Frisselle, Ricky Taylor and Mark Wilkins. Taylor led 22 laps in the No. 13 Beyer Racing Chevrolet Riley, while defending race winner Mark Wilkins led six laps in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley before finishing seventh, co-driving with Burt Frisselle.
Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut gave Supercar Life Racing its first podium finish by placing third in the No. 55 Supercar Life/Edata Solutions BMW Riley, while Bill Lester and Ryan Dalziel placed fifth in the No. 45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley. Rolex 24 At Daytona winners David Donohue and Darren Law took sixth in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley.
Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli entered the event one point behind the Daytona Prototype co-leaders, but finished 12th after contact with a GT car cut a tire and forced a late-race pit stop. Angelelli and Brian Frisselle are now 14 points out of the lead with 234 points.
Zonta and Jonsson completed 93 laps during the two-hour timed event, averaging 113.210 mph. The race was slowed four times by caution. Three of the cautions waved during the opening 35 circuits, all for debris and a stopped car. From that point, the only caution waved on lap 73 for debris from a chain-reaction incident involving Bouchut, Angelelli and Bryce Miller.
Segal, Assentato Win First GT Race of Season
Jeff Segal held off Dirk Werner by 0.774 seconds to win in the Acxiom GT class, giving the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 its second victory. The only other victory for that team was in the 2008 Sahlen's Six Hours, when the pair were joined by Nick Longhi.
"Everything that needed to go well did so today, and it was a great race," Segal said. "Last year's victory here was a long time coming. We knew the car was good when the SpeedSource team unloaded it this weekend, and everything went great today."
Werner finished second in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 started by Leh Keen, and the position - which came despite a close call to avoid a spinning Daytona Prototype early - extended the duo's lead to 31 points (279-248) over Kelly Collins in the point standings. Collins finished fifth in the No. 07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP.R with Leighton Reese, while usual co-driver Paul Edwards missed the race due to suffering a shoulder injury in a recent mountain bike accident.
"We're extremely pleased with today's result, coming out of this race with a podium almost feels like a victory," Keen said. "We were a little bit cautious, and it paid off for me because several incidents took place right in front of me. Dirk was disappointed by not being able to get by the Mazda, but he was held up by lapped traffic."
Dane Cameron and Tom Sutherland gave Racers Edge Motorsports its first-ever podium finish by placing third in the No. 30 3-Dimensional.com/Click-Away Computers Mazda RX-8. Andrew Davis finished fourth in the No. 57 BryanMark Financial/Stevenson Automotive Pontiac GXP.R. Spencer Pumpelly drove multiple laps in that car, substituting for team regular for Robin Liddell, who took ill from food poisoning Friday morning. The team gained two positions late in the race when team manager Mike Johnson gambled on changing only two tires on their final pit stop.
Rolex 24 At Daytona GT winners Justin Marks and Andy Lally finished sixth in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 usually raced by Pumpelly, who did not drive that car due to lack of sponsorship.
Kevin Roush led twice for three laps in the debut race for Miller Barrett Racing's No. 48 IPC/Marquis Jet Porsche GT3, but co-driver Bryce Miller was eliminated in the incident that brought out the final caution.
Dempsey Racing's Charles Espenlaub also led 11 laps after taking over for Joe Foster in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, but retired while leading with electrical problems.
Craig Stanton led 11 laps in the No. 65 TRG Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 started by John Potter, eventually finishing seventh. It marked the car's first laps led in 2009.
The next stop for the Grand-Am Rolex Series will be the Aug. 29 Montreal 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.