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Grand-Am: Lexus leads, but Pontiac, Porsche mix it


The three main protagonists in this year's Rolex Series each showed their hand in the early going at Daytona, although it was Lexus that held the six-hour advantage over rivals Pontiac and Porsche.

Six-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett led the field into the second quarter of the race, as the #01 Telmex-Target Riley-Lexus maintained the position it had held for much of the previous few hours. The #01, shared by Salvador Duran and Juan Montoya, led a stretch of 91 consecutive laps before giving up the lead to the #58 Porsche-powered Brumos/Red Bull entry during a scheduled pit-stop.

With the #02 Ganassi entry of Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Memo Rojas shadowing the #01 for much of the opening five hours, and the #6 Michael Shank Racing shared by AJ Allmendinger, Paul Tracy, Henri Zogaib and Ian James also taking turns in the lead, Lexus-powered cars led much of the opening stint, taking 145 of the first 185 laps in 2007, having also headed the final 168 laps a year ago.

“We had a great start and managed to move up quite a bit in the early going, which was nice," Dixon commented, "The car is performing perfectly right now and it was solid through the first stint and midway through the second. Unfortunately, I locked up the left front tire and flat-spotted it down to the cords. We lost a few seconds but, other than that, it's just been the usual wear and tear of this race.”

Team owner Chip Ganassi wasn't getting carried away, despite seeing his two cars run at the head of the field from the opening hour.

“You know, this is a long race, and I think, to this point, it's about the same as it's been in years past," he said, "But the point is, when you've been in this many races in your life, it's almost like you don't feel anything really. You've done this so many times, you know how racing works and the amount of patience required to be successful.”

Pontiac-powered cars led the 69-entry field to the green flag, and continued to have a strong presence in the top ten after six hours - just not with the car most had been expecting. Sadly, after Alex Gurney had led the first four laps, contact with a stricken GT car left the polesitter to limp around to the pits for extensive repairs, dropping the #99 GAINSCO Riley-Pontiac well down the order.

In its place, however, came a handful of other Pontiac-powered machines, led by the #91 Lowe's-backed entry, which led early on and continued to be a thorn in Ganassi's side until the sixth hour.

"I had a good run," reigning NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said of his stint behind the wheel, "I was trying to keep pace with Montoya - on some laps, I would gain and, on some others, I would lose, but the gap was pretty close. The traffic with all of these cars really keeps you focused, as I am used to running around with here with guys going about the same speed.



Related Pictures

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Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Spencer Pumpelly - TRG Porsche [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Borcheller/Barbosa - Action Express Racing Porsche Riley [Pic credit: Grand Am Media]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote that will be tested by 2009 Radical European Masters Champion Derek Johnston at Virginia International Raceway

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