Winning Action Express Corvette leads field uphill entering turn 9. [Joe Jennings Photo]
Barbosa And Law Rally To Win For Action Express At Watkins Glen
by Joe Jennings
Watkins Glen, N. Y. - Joao Barbosa and Darren Law took advantage of a late-race opportunity to win the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International, the eighth race of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season on a very hot Sunday afternoon.
Overtaking leader Alex Gurney on the 172nd lap, Barbosa dove underneath him in turn 7 to take the lead and gain the victory.
Taking their second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series victory of the year, Barbosa and Law scored their second victory of the year for the Action Express Racing Corvette DP team. They led 33 of the 182 laps around the iconic 3.4-mile road course.
In winning, Barbosa and Law took the lead for the new North American Endurance Championship, a three-race contest that will be settled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27. In that championship, Barbosa and Law lead Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio by two points. The latter duo finished third today.
"Our Corvette was awesome, and it was a very competitive car the team gave me," Barbosa stated. "The car was good the whole six hours, and it was still good at the end." Regarding the winning pass, he said, "I just pushing and pushing as hard as I could, and I used traffic to my advantage, which was enough to get me close enough to make a move for the lead. That was as close as I had gotten to the No. 99 (Fogarty and Gurney), and I just had to go for it. It is such a competitive series, and you have to take advantage of every opportunity."
Added Law, "We had a great run, and we have the team to thank for that. From the first session (practice), we knew we had a fast car and that we would be competitive this weekend. But we have had a pretty good car most weekends, so it is good to be back up here. I think the championship is still open. There are several races to go, and we are looking forward to pushing ahead."
Second place went to Jon Fogarty and co-driver Gurney in the GAINSCO/Auto Insurance Corvette DP.
When the car experienced power-steering problems midway through the race, the team de-tuned the unit, which minimized an overheating issue. Dropping back in the standings while repairs were being made, Fogarty and Gurney fought back and regained the lead, opening up 15-second advantages at times. However, three caution flags in the late-going wiped out their margin.
Even though the team missed out on the victory, they were pleased as they have had to endure a season filled with a succession of problems.
"We are happy to be back up here," Fogarty said. "We have worked hard all year, but we have had a lot of things not go our way. Obviously, we came up a little bit short but after the season we have had, it is a step in the right direction. All in all we had a pretty good day."
Gurney noted, "We are disappointed not to win, as our car was obviously capable. We were in good shape most of the day and had worked our way to the front. Other than the problem with the power steering, everything went well. At the end, I caught a GT (car) in the worst place on the track for me. Joao (Barbosa) made a good run and got by me."
The Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley team with Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio earned third place, leading 24 laps with Dalziel driving. They were competitive throughout and the presence of Bourdais made them even more competitive.
Bourdais said, "It was my first time with Starworks and the first time at the Glen, and I had a very nice weekend. These guys are crazy and I had a lot of fun. I fit right in with this team, and it was good racing. To come out of here with a podium finish was great."
"We weren't sure what to expect today," Dalziel said. "It is always difficult preparing for a six-hour race, and we just came up a bit short. But Sebastien (Bourdais) really helped us out a lot."
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas bounced back after losing a lap to finish fourth. They were in the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley. Pruett started from the pole and led twice for 43 laps, but their race went awry when they had to replace a radiator, losing a lap in the process.
Regardless, Pruett and Rojas rebounded and caught the leaders, but couldn't advance beyond fourth place at the end.
Fifth place went to the Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP team of Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Oliver Gavin.
In GT action, Robin Liddell and John Edwards pushed their Stevenson Motorsports Camaro to victory, finishing with a half of gallon of fuel to spare. It was the first win of the season for them, and the 11th overall for the Stevenson team.
"It was a pretty rough race, and this is our best track," Liddell said. "Our car was strong and it had good balance. We had two blowouts on Friday and we made some adjustments, so to keep the tires under us. Unfortunately on a restart, we got a stop-and-go penalty, which I thought was unfortunate. I was pretty hacked off about that, but we did manage to fight our way back up there."
Said Edwards, "It was a tough race run in brutal heat. I did three fuel runs, and it was the first time I have seen a Grand-Am race go 2 hours and 15 minutes without a caution, which made it tough physically."
The Stevenson team leads the GT class in NAEC points.
Trailing the pair were the BMW of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana and Billy Johnson and the AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 of Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal and Anthony Lazzaro.
Six caution flags slowed the race for 25 laps.