The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
January 30th, 2012
Volume V, Edition X
News of Note: Services for Dr. Joseph Mattioli were held today. A special version of the Frontstretch Newsletter will have an update as the Pocono patriarch was put to rest with his final viewing and burial in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Rolex Sports Car Series Recap: Allmendinger Leads Michael Shank Racing to Overall Victory at Rolex 24
by Phil Allaway
Going into this past weekend's 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona, the biggest stories were the new cars in the Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring classes, and the large field of GT cars (46 in all, although only 44 took the green flag). After the January open testing session, the consensus was that the Riley's were a little off the pace and that the Corvette DP's would stomp the field.
That did not turn out to be the case.
Ryan Dalziel qualified a Ford-powered Riley DPG3 on pole and beat out the best of the Corvette DP's to do it. Once the race started, Dalziel drove off to a comfortable advantage over the pack. However, a couple of the Corvette DP's had immediate issues. Darren Law brought the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP to the pits at the end of the first lap with a misfire in the engine. The crew facilitated a quick fix, but the car was off of the lead lap and out of any real contention. Less than a half-hour later, the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP driven by Max Angelelli also suffered engine problems and went to the garage for a fix. After a short stay, the car went back out, but the problem remained. After a couple of hours of repairs, the car was officially parked for the event, a soul-crushing disappointment for a team that most felt had the fastest car.
Dalziel led until the first round of stops, when he got out and Enzo Potolicchio got in. Once the stops were over, the No. 8 maintained the lead, but was under heavy pressure from Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, eventually ceding the lead three laps later.
Throughout the early going, the vast majority of the DP class was able to stay on the lead lap and remain in contention. However, once darkness fell over Daytona, problems began to take their toll. The No. 99 Corvette DP lost significant time after a rock punctured the radiator. Later on, the water pump belt failed, resulting in a long stay in the garage area for repairs. In the 12th hour, the Krohn Racing No. 76 went to the garage to replace the rear end. The Spirit of Daytona No. 90 also spent significant time in the garage. After returning to the race, Gurney later stuffed the No. 99 into the tires, necessitating a full course yellow to extricate him from the wreckage.
In the end, the race ended up being a fight between the pole-sitting No. 8 Starworks Motorsports Ford Riley DPG3 shared by Dalziel, Potolicchio, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish and Alex Popow versus the similar No. 60 for Michael Shank Racing shared by AJ Allmendinger, Justin Wilson, Ozz Negri, Jr. and John Pew. The two BMW Riley DPG3's, running for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates also remained within striking distance.
These four teams swapped the lead back and forth throughout the race. Eventually, the two Ganassi cars ran into problems; firstly, the No. 02 entry with bad pit stops during the night that dropped them off the lead lap. However, the No. 01 was still right in contention until the last hour of the race. After making their last pit stop, driver Scott Pruett appeared to stall the car. Unfortunately, what really happened was that he ripped first and second gear out of the car while trying to restart after coming off the air jacks. A stop-and-go penalty for speeding on pit road and another stop for a new gear cluster dropped the No. 01 right out of contention. They would eventually finish sixth, four laps down.
As a result, the final hours of the race constituted a massive duel between the No. 8 Starworks Ford Riley (after having survived some contact at the Bus Stop in Hour 18) and the No. 60 MSR Ford Riley. When Allan McNish was in the No. 8, the racing became a little rough. With a couple of hours to go, A.J. Allmendinger attempted to pass on the outside entering the Infield for the lead. McNish raced Allmendinger hard, nearly pushing him off the road to maintain the advantage. A little later, Allmendinger got on the inside of McNish exiting the Infield and the two exchanged at least two side-bumps in Turn 2 on the tri-oval before getting past. This move elicited gasps from the assembled crowd. Allmendinger was able to take the position away, and an unrelated full course yellow for debris came out just afterwards that warded off additional contact.
Eventually, the hard pace took a toll on the No. 8 and the car eventually began to drop back. During the final segment of the race, Dalziel was given the the task of chasing down and passing Allmendinger for the win. But Allmendinger spent the last hour of the race turning in a series of qualifying-like laps, a frenetic speed making it impossible for anyone to catch up.
Allmendinger brought the No. 60 LiveOn.org Ford Riley DPG3 home to claim the first victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for Michael Shank Racing. Following the race, Allmendinger was very pleased to be able to pick up the victory for the team, a great award after seven years of trying.
"Michael Shank Racing has gone through a lot to get to this point. It's really cool not only win the race, but to have... all the guys that have worked really hard to make it possible," Allmendinger said. "Its the same group of guys that I've seen for the last seven years. Its a small group of guys that Mike [Shank] puts together and they work their butts off."
Behind the winning No. 60, Starworks Motorsports' No. 8 held on for second with the driving team of Dalziel, McNish, Lucas Luhr, Enzo Potolicchio, and Alex Popow. The problems on the No. 01 allowed the second Michael Shank Racing entry, the No. 6 Ford Riley Mk XX driven by Michael McDowell, Jorge Goncalvez, Gustavo Yacaman and British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr, to round out the podium. The Ganassi-owned No. 02 BMW Riley DPG3 driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished fourth, unable to get back the laps that they lost. The Action Express Racing No. 5 Corvette DP, which ran all but flawlessly after the engine misfire at the start, rounded out the top-5.
In the GT class, it was a Porsche show for almost the entire race. At one point, Porsche 911 GT3's took up the first six places in GT. The No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche driven by Marc Lieb, Leh Keen, Andrew Davis and Hurley Haywood started from pole and was particularly strong, at one point having a full lap over the rest of the class. However, power steering issues, untimely cautions and bad pit strategy did them in. Their misfortune allowed the No. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 for Magnus Racing, driven by Andy Lally, Richard Lietz, Rene Rast and team co-owner John Potter to claim the class victory. It is the first-ever Rolex Sports Car Series victory for Magnus Racing.
After the race, lead driver Andy Lally was particularly pleased to be able to claim the class victory in his debut with Magnus Racing in such a tough and competitive race.
"I don't think anybody is going to win a race like this ever again," Lally said. "It was said all month long leading up to this as the entry list grew and grew and grew that we had nine different makes of cars and world champions from all over the world, from Formula 1 to NASCAR to IndyCars to international sports car endurance superheroes, factory Porsche kits like these guys that just fly around like under qualifying speed laps, and it was pretty cool for Magnus Racing. I'm sure the whole entire crew is proud and entitled to a lot of celebration tonight. "
Behind the No. 44 were the defending champions TRG with their No. 67 and drivers Wolf Henzler, Marc Goossens, Spencer Pumpelly, Steven Bertheau and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Completing the podium was the Brumos No. 59. As as far as fan favorites were concerned, the No. 40 for Dempsey Racing was never in contention during the event because the competition was that much tougher than last year. Still, the Mazda RX-8 finished tenth in class with the driver lineup of Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Tom Long, Charles Espenlaub and late addition Charles Putnam. Also, the No. 56 AF-Waltrip Ferrari was fairly strong early on with Rui Aguas in the car, but steadily dropped back to a 22nd-place finish in GT with Aguas, Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman and Travis Pastrana driving. The effort was slowed by a stint in the garage late in the race and a spin into the tires by Waltrip in the closing minutes.
TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:
Remembering Doc Mattioli: A Legacy Beyond the Racetrack
by Tony Lumbis
Q: In 2002, Doran Racing won the last Rolex 24 at Daytona before the introduction of the Daytona Prototype formula. What car did the team field, and what engine were they using?
Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
Last Monday's Answer:
Q: There have been quite a few Daytona Prototype chassis manufacturers over the past nine seasons. However, the manufacturer whose Daytona Prototype was used the least in the Rolex Sports Car Series was Chase. What car was the Chase designed to look like?
A: The Chase was designed to look like the Mosler MT900R, a car that had previously raced in the Rolex Sports Car Series in the GT and GTS classes. The car never ran full-time in the series and only a couple of examples were even raced at all.
Coming Tuesday, January 31st in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Tom Bowles
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more!
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