Pruett-Rojas Rolex Series Victors At VIR

Alton, Va. ? Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas overcame adversity to win the Bosch Engineering 250, the fourth Rolex Sports Car Series race in 2008, at the picturesque Virginia International Raceway 3.27-mile road course.

A day ago the team sped to the pole position only to fail a post-qualifying technical inspection, which relegated the pair to the rear of the 19-car Daytona Prototype starting field. Wanting to avoid any chance of a first-lap incident, the TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley team elected to start the race from pit lane.

When the green flag dropped, Rojas and the team closely followed a plan that pushed them forward, only to be slowed one hour into race when Rojas made contact with Michael Valiante, who had inherited the pole after the TELMEX car failed inspection.

Rojas managed to keep going but Valiante slid off the course for a few moments. Valiante and teammate Max Angelelli ended up 23rd overall.

Pruett relieved Rojas at that point and slowly reeled in the leaders, taking the lead at the end of the second hour or the 57th lap. Although pressed hard over the final 20 laps, Pruett didn?t flinch as he and Rojas won for the third time in four races.

The winner?s margin of victory was .548 seconds over the runner-up BMW Riley of Ryan Dalziel and newcomer Henri Zogaib.

The winners continued to hold the Rolex Series point lead as the series heads for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in three weeks. Pruett and Rojas have137 points while Marc Goosens and Jim Matthews have 103. Third place is held down by Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. and fourth are defending Rolex Series champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.

?The last 20 laps was a race,? Pruett said of his bout with Dalziel, who hounded the winner as the race wound down. ?We raced hard. Sometimes I got a break in traffic and sometimes Ryan (Dalziel) did. It was a fantastic day for us and we had the legs on the field at the end.

?I didn?t think we would end up on the podium after starting last and after arriving at the track late. We played it cautious at the beginning and our engine never let us down, as it seems to be getting better and better.?

Added Rojas, ?Scott?s (Pruett) driving won the race for us. I did make contact with Valiante after he chopped me off. I don?t know what happened and I think it was just a racing incident.?

After an incident with the GAINSCO car in Mexico City a week ago, Rojas was placed on probation for this race.

Dalziel and co-driver Zogaib drove superbly to gain second place, a career high for the SAMAX team fielded by Peter Baron.

?Realistically, we had the fastest legs at the end but we lacked straightaway speed,? speedster Dalziel said. ?I told my teammate I just wanted him to keep the car on the lead lap during his driving stint, and I would do the rest. Second place represents a turning point for our team. I like to follow Scott Pruett as I learn so much from him.?

Zogaib said, ?I am a happy man with our first podium finish.?

Third place went to Mexico City winners Matthews and Goosens in the Riley-Mathews Motorsport Pontiac Riley.

Goosens drove the second portion of the race and the team led four laps in addition to being in contention for a lengthy period.

?I didn?t have anything for the winners but our pit strategy did get us up front,? Goosens said. ?We had a handling problem all weekend, and third place was the best we could do.?

John Pew and Ian James raced their Ford Riley to third place followed by another BMW Riley driven by Matt Plumb and Gene Sigal.

Sixth went to Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins in a Ford Riley with Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand bringing their Porsche Crawford home seventh.

Burt Friselle and Gabriele Gardel pushed their new Doran Ford Dallara to a creditable eighth place ahead of Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. in a Ford Riley.

Tenth went to the Lexus Riley of Shane Lewis and Billy Lester.

The top-10 cars finished on the lead lap.

Fogarty and Gurney ended up 14th.

For the second-consecutive race, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis won the GT class race. The pair drove the Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R.

Second in the GT class was the TRG Porsche GT3 Cup car of Spencer Pumpelly and Tim George Jr.

Eric Lux and Leh Keen gained third-place GT honors in their Farnbacher-Loles Porsche GT3 Cup car.

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