Pruett Uses Exciting Last Lap Pass To Win In Grand-Am At Daytona

Scott Pruett beat Alex Gurney in a wild sprint to the finish to win Thursday’s Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, the closest finish in the history of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.for his 19th Rolex series victory. Pruett and Rojas extended their Daytona Prototype championship lead to 40 points after their fifth win of the year for the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. For the winners of the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, it was their seventh podium finish of the season.

It was heart break for Gurney who passed Pruett with 22 laps remaining and Pruett passed him with 100 yards to the checkered flag. Gurney seem to have the race in control, however Pruett was determined to stay close to the red #99 of Gurney. As the cars come out of oval turn four, Pruett using his IndyCar and NASCAR superspeedway experience made his move to the outside and nipped Gurney by just 0.081 seconds for the closest finish in Grand Am history. Coming home third was Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson. The battle for fourth place was a battle between Brumos teammates with Joao Barbosa passing Darren Law in the waning minutes of the event.

GT portion was won by the #70 SpeedSource team of Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay. The final one-lap sprint was set-up by SpeedSource teammate, Jeff Segal who flipped the second-place #69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 after an altercation with the Daytona Prototype of Bill Lester. The win by Ham and Tremblay which was their third straight at Daytona.

The #61 AIM Autosport Lexus Riley of Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle started from the pole and led 16 laps. Frisselle was running third with 16 laps to go they had to leave the race because of a broken CV joint.

GT winner, Tremblay drove the #70 Mazda in the final stint and finished ahead of Bryce Miller by 1.83 seconds, Tremblay led 37 laps to score their first victory in the #70 Mazda RX-8 since the season opener – Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Before the Segal flip there was another incident when Ross Smith spun the #30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 with seven laps to go. Smith spun after contact with Ryan Dalziel?s prototype. Smith’s car was then struck head-on by the #97 Stevenson Motorsports Corvette of Jeff Bucknum. Both Smith and Segal were taken to the infield care center, where they were evaluated and released. Smith bruised his knee in the incident.

Four cautions for 16 laps slowed the race’s average speed to 102.690 mph.

The Rolex Series returns to action July 19 for the Porsche 250 Presented By Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.

– The victory is the season-leading fifth Daytona Prototype victory of the season for Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. This is also the fifth victory for the Lexus Riley.
– The victory was Pruett’s 19th career Rolex Series victory and Ganassi’s 20th as a team owner. Both are Rolex Series records.
– Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson recorded their best finish of the season in the #76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola with a third-place result. Their previous best, a fourth-place finish, also came at Daytona in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
– JC France and Joao Barbosa gave Brumos Racing its third top five of the race with a fourth-place finish in the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, the duo’s best finish of the season.
– Darren Law and David Donohue scored their third straight top-five finish in the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley with a fifth-place finish.
– Six drivers in five Daytona Prototypes led laps in the race: Alex Gurney (25), Mark Wilkins (16), Jon Fogarty (12), Scott Pruett (9), Michael Valiante (7), Shane Lewis (1).
– Eleven Daytona Prototypes finished all 70 laps of the race.
– Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson finished 13th, as the pair encountered trouble with less than 10 laps remaining. Running third, the car suffered a flat tire while making contact with the No. 06 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R.
– The #2 SAMAX BMW Riley of Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib started 19th, and ran as high as fourth before making contact with the #30 Mazda RX-8 of Ross Smith. Dalziel’s car suffered a broken axle in the process, and the #30 – which spun after contact with Dalziel – was subsequently hit by the #97 Corvette of Jeff Bucknum. Dalziel and Zogaib finished 17th in Daytona Prototypes.
– Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli’s bad luck continued when the #10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara’s wheels locked up while leading on Lap 27. Valiante slid off the track in Turn 1 and limped around the track with a flat tire, the car falling off the lead lap and dropping out of the top 15. The car – which had developed a vibration early in the race and also spun on Lap 59 in the Bus Stop turn – finished 20th in Daytona Prototypes.

– I spoke with NASCAR owner Richard Childress to find out when they were going to do their first Grand am race and he said they were working on a sponsor for the program and it is really rough out there now but the program was still moving forward.

– The big news of the weekend was the Dario Franchitti news of the #40 Ganassi team shutting down. The tough part is the 70 racing team members that were laid off from Chip Ganassi Racing. The economy is really affecting the racing community, advance ticket sales are down for the NASCAR race this weekend and fans are not traveling like they were a year ago. Many of the smaller teams are really feeling it with the sponsors being gobbled up by many of the super-teams.

Grand-Am Media contributed to this report

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