Podium Finishes For Pontiac In Both Classes At The Glen

06.06.2006: Podium Finishes For Pontiac In Both Classes At The Glen

#99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley Takes Second with #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley In Third; #64 iRise/TRG Pontiac GTO.R Finishes Third in GT

Delays in practice, cancelled qualifying sessions, legal issues nor constant rain could prevent the ninth Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal from taking place on time. The event was held as originally planned and although it rained all day, 46 cars took to the track at historic Watkins Glen International for Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. After what was a difficult race on a slick track, Pontiacs once again were on the podium in both classes with the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Bob Stallings finishing second and the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Ryan Briscoe taking third (both in the Daytona Prototype class) as well as the #64 iRise/TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim finishing third in the GT class.

"I kind of think we had the car to win the race, unfortunately I got caught up in a first-lap incident and went to the back," said Gurney, who drove the final stint in the #99 Pontiac. "Soon after that, we got the fastest lap so we definitely had the quick car and when Jon took over it was a real 'rain clinic' for everyone else. Really impressive - we had a huge lead and the last couple of stops didn't go exactly how we wanted them to as far as strategy so I ended up staying with the somewhat-older tires and had a real tough time of keeping Max back that last few laps."

Max Angelelli was gunning for second place and on Gurney's tail but ultimately couldn't pass in the final laps. However, SunTrust's third-place finish keeps them in serious contention for team and driver championships and GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing's second-place finish moves Pontiac closer to Lexus's 340 points toward the manufacturers championship (with 325).

"It was a great race - Max dominated at the beginning and then all the changing conditions made it a really tough six hours," said Wayne Taylor. "Clearly we didn't have the speed right at the very end because Max pushed really hard but points-wise it's really good; we've gone from a 27- to a 21-point gap (between points leader #01 Lexus Riley)."

Winners of the race were Jörg Bergmeister and Boris Said (filling in for Colin Braun) in the #76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley. This win was bittersweet for the team since Braun was pulled so as not to violate rules against persons under 18 competing at tracks where Indy Racing League activity (with tobacco sponsorships) is taking place the same weekend. Braun, still 17 years old, had been allowed to race by legal injunction but sanctioning bodies would not permit any Daytona Prototype activity until the issue had been resolved with the track and IRL. Subsequently, Krohn Racing elected to pull Braun and Boris Said filled in for the win. The #76 car was found to be too low in technical inspection and were fined $2,000 (to go to Camp Boggy Creek charity) but are allowed to keep their win and points.

In the GT class, the win was taken by the #72 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell and second place clinched by the #36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Randy Pobst and Ian Baas. It looked as if the #80 Porsche would take third, but in a stroke of luck for Pontiac and TRG the car faltered on its last lap, allowing the #64 TRG GTO.R and #65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R of Andy Lally, Marc Bunting and R.J. Valentine to take third and fourth, respectively. Pontiac leads the GT manufacturers points race with five wins between the two cars and an additional five second-place finishes - with three qualifying race podiums and one victory - and with their fourth-place finish, Andy Lally and Marc Bunting retain their GT driver and team points lead.

"Luckily we kept on the lap that we needed to with the #80 car," said Paul Edwards. "We came in and pitted and it all worked out. At the end there, the #80 car hit a puddle coming out of the exit and got sideways. Just by chance on the last lap he got wide and he was slow coming out and we got to go by him. I was wondering where we would be able to get him. We seemed a bit better under braking into the 'toe' and I thought I might get him there at the end of the lap but nowhere else I had it for him so I'm glad he made that mistake."

Saturday DP provisional results:

1 76 Ford Riley Bergmeister/Said
2 99 Pontiac Riley Gurney/Fogarty/Stallings
3 10 Pontiac Riley Angelelli/Taylor/Briscoe
4 60 Lexus Riley Negri/Patterson
5 4 Pontiac Crawford Wallace/Leitzinger
6 19 Ford Crawford McDowell/Gidley/Cosmo
7 01 Lexus Riley Pruett/Diaz
8 77 Ford Doran Borcheller/Brix/
9 8 Porsche Doran Bu. Friselle/Br. Frisselle/Unser Jr.
10 89 Pontiac Riley Dalziel/Figge

Saturday GT provisional results:

1 72 Porsche GT3 Cup Henzler/Liddell
2 36 Porsche GT3 Cup Pobst/Baas
3 64 Pontiac GTO.R Collins/Edwards/Pilgrim
4 65 Pontiac GTO.R Lally/Bunting/Valentine
5 80 Porsche GT3 Cup Murry/Keen
6 66 Porsche GT3 Cup Pace/Lowe
7 22 Porsche GT3 Cup Assentato/ Longhi/ Dumoulin
8 73 Porsche GT3 Cup Tafel/Davis
9 74 Porsche GT3 Cup Lux/Espenlaub
10 17 Porsche GT3 Cup Greg Wilkins/Lacey/Mark Wilkins

The Rolex Series returns to action on June 24 when Pontiac and its competitors race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The race will be televised the following day (tape delay) on SPEED TV at 3:00 p.m.

-Steve Smith-

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06.06.2006 / MaP

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