GRANDAM - MIAMI , HOMESTEAD : Pruett Claims Top Spot in Practice for Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami

GRANDAM - MIAMI , HOMESTEAD : Pruett Claims Top Spot in Practice for Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami

24.03.2006: GRANDAM - MIAMI , HOMESTEAD : Pruett Claims Top Spot in Practice for Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami

On a practice day that saw the top 12 cars covered by less than one second, Scott Pruett put the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley atop the time charts in preparation for Saturday's Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami (SPEED, 8 p.m. ET).

Pruett logged a best lap at 1:14.781 (110.723 mph) in the first of the day's two practice sessions and the time held up through the first Rolex Series evening practice session. Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz are looking for a second-consecutive victory after claiming the Mexico City 250 win three weeks ago, and are looking to keep Chip Ganassi Racing undefeated in 2006 Rolex Series competition. NASCAR driver Casey Mears and IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon drove the team's No. 02 Target Lexus Riley to victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"It was a pretty standard day for the Ganassi team," Pruett said. "A few variables are different this weekend with the race starting later in the day, but overall I'm pleased with the team's performance. There were some incidents with other cars that slowed the sessions down a bit, but we were able to make a lot of progress and get the CompUSA car where it needed to be by day's end. I think the team has some great momentum coming off of the win in Mexico City, and now we're focused on getting a win here and coming out ahead in the points."

Turning in the day's second-best time was Oswaldo Negri Jr. in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Negri clocked a lap at 1:14.933 (110.499 mph) in a brand-new car owing to the Brazilian's crash during practice in Mexico City. Negri and co-driver Mark Patterson opened the year with a second-place performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the duo is hoping to return to the podium this weekend.

"It says a lot about Michael Shank Racing," said Negri of his performance. "This is a brand-new car and we were P2 right away. The car is not quite there yet, not like I want, but we are working hard on it. I think we can improve on a couple of spots. It's pretty good with the Lexus engine working absolutely fantastic. Driving at night was very, very interesting. It's much darker than I thought. Besides that, we are looking good. I'm confident. My teammate, Mark Patterson, is doing a good job and Mike Shank Racing, those are the guys."

Defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli turned-in the third-quickest time of the day, and was quickest in the evening session with a lap at 1:15.035 (110.349 mph) in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley. In addition to winning the 2005 Daytona Prototype title, Angelelli and co-driver Wayne Taylor are also the defending champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Mike Rockenfeller was fourth-quickest in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford with a lap at 1:15.167 (110.155 mph). Rockenfeller and co-driver Patrick Long are reunited in the No. 23 machine for the first time since January's Rolex 24 At Daytona, where the duo finished third alongside Lucas Luhr.

Andy Wallace completed the top five in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports. A two-time Rolex Series winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Wallace posted a best lap at 1:15.227 (110.067 mph). Wallace is teamed with Butch Leitzinger, who has finished on the podium in his last two Rolex Series appearances at Homestead.


In the GT class, Wolf Henzler topped the speed charts, posting a lap time of 1:21.918 (101.077 mph) in the No. 72 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing in the afternoon session. Henzler and co-driver Robin Liddell are currently in a four-way tie with Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins for third in the current GT driver standings.

Edwards was second-quickest on the day in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, posting a lap time of 1:22.600 (100.242 mph) also in the weekend's first workout. Edwards and Collins are coming into the weekend carrying the momentum from a class triumph in the Mexico City 250 three weeks ago.

Tafel Racing put another of its machines in the top three on the GT charts with a lap time of 1:22.904 (99.875 mph) by Andrew Davis in the No. 73 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3. Davis and co-driver Jim Tafel look to improve on their fifth-place class result in Mexico City as the duo is currently tied for ninth in the GT standings, 17 points behind leaders Andy Lally and Marc Bunting.

Lally turned his fastest lap of the day in the No. 65 iRise/F1 Air/TRG Pontiac GTO.R he is sharing with Bunting and RJ Valentine in the afternoon session, a lap time of 1:23.377 (99.308 mph), good for eighth best in class. The No. 65 machine is the only Rolex Series car this season to have recorded podium finishes in each of the first two races, following up a runner-up finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a third-place run in Mexico City. Bunting and Lally look to extend their nine-point lead in the points with another strong performance Saturday night.

- Garra -
photos Grandam and Pontiac


24.03.2006 / MaP

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