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Wallace, Duno make history with Miami Grand-Am win
29 February 2004
Andy Wallace and Milka Duno gave Howard-Boss Motorsports its first win in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series last night, taking the chequered flag in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The victory was a milestone, as Duno became the first female driver to ever take the overall victory in a Rolex Series race, and marked a dramatic comeback by the team after it qualified at the tail of a long line of Daytona Prototypes heading the grid for round two of the series. It also went some way to assuaging Wallace's last-gasp disappointment in the Daytona 24 Hours.
Duno started the #2 CITGO Crawford-Pontiac from 15th position and handed the reigns over to co-driver Wallace on lap 43 of the 109-lap race. The Englishman then used all his extensive sportscar experience to bully his way through the field and move into the top three.
A late-race caution set up a 14-lap sprint to the chequered flag, with the newer of two CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley entries leading the field back to the
green. However, sportscar inexperience told, as Luis Diaz slid onto the grass in turn two at the restart, bringing out the double yellows yet again and resulting in a ten-lap shootout.
When the returned to green again, it was Max Papis in the other CompUSA Chip Ganassi entry at the front, but the seasoned Italian had former ALMS ace Jan Magnussen nipping at his heels in the Doran-Lista Racing JE4.
As the pair of Lexus-powered prototypes fought for the lead, Wallace sat back in third place, watching the battle in front of him. His patience was well judged for, on lap
101, the #27 and #01 cars began running door-to-door, banging into each other as they came onto the front stretch. As the two went into turn one, they finally spun each other out after contact, allowing Wallace to breeze by and take the lead.
The incident also allowed the #81 G&W Motorsports Doran-BMW of Cort Wagner and Brent Martini to take second place overall in its debut race, while local drivers
Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle brought home third-place honours in the #6 Michael Shank Racing Doran, in spite of it being the duo's first race together.
Magnussen and Papis met with Grand American officials following the race and were informed that penalties will be assessed following review of video footage of the race early next week.
After a disappointing finish at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Performance Technology Group swept the top two spots in the GT class. Sportscar veterans Boris Said and Bill Auberlen showed the liking for Homestead by taking top honours in the #21 BMW M3, while team-mates Joey Hand and Justin Marks finished second in the #22 entry. The win, coupled with the #21's fastest qualifying time, earned PTG a $5000 bonus cheque in the Acxiom Grand Touring Challenge.
Behind the two M3s, The Racer's Group #67 Porsche claimed third in the hands of team boss Kevin Buckler and Grand-Am debutante Liz Halliday.
If the Howard-Boss team's comeback was inspiring, it was matched all the way by that of the winners in the new SGS class.
Craig Stanton and David Murry overtook the entire SGS field to take victory in the AASCO Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup, having been forced to start at the back of the grid after failing a post-qualifying technical inspection. Despite the closely-fought nature of the class, Murry was able to manoeuvre his way to the front of the class, before handing over for Stanton to take the #16 to the chequered.
TPC Racing rounded out the SGS podium with Randy Pobst and Michael Levitas taking second in the team's Porsche and Marc Bunting and Andy Lally finishing third in the #38 example.
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