Grand AM » 15 July 2007
Fourth win of year for Lally, Valentine.
Despite falling a lap behind early in Saturday's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT race at Iowa Speedway, Andy Lally put the #66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3 into the lead with 20 laps remaining in the two-and-a-half hour race and came away with the team's series-leading fourth victory of 2007.
Lally, who took over for co-driver RJ Valentine during the first 20 minutes of the race, fell as far back as 14th before charging through the field. Lally assumed the lead for a lap during the final round of pit stops, rejoined the race in second behind #87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports IPC/Marquis Jet Porsche GT3 driver Dirk Werner, then pressured the leader for several laps before getting a run coming out of Turn 9 on Lap 165. Lally and Werner went side-by-side across the start/finish line before Lally completed the pass in Turn 1.
From there, Lally endured challenges by Tim Lewis Jr. – who passed Werner on Lap 172 – in the #06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R before beating Lewis by 0.618 seconds on the 1.3-mile, nine-turn stadium road course. Lally averaged 95.995 mph in an event which saw only two caution periods, both for debris.
It was a hard-fought victory not just on the track, but in the car as well. Lally – who posted his record 50th career Grand-Am Rolex Series podium finish – fought hot conditions throughout the afternoon, stopping once just to have his TRG team pour ice down his driver suit. He also frequently stuck his hand between the window net to get air. The consolation was victory and a jump to second in points, 10 behind Werner with three races remaining.
“This place is so busy,” Lally said. “But this is what you dream for. At the end, I was seriously worried. The only thing I knew was that Dirk was hot, because we were both hanging our hands out the sides of the car trying to get some air. I don't think I was going to get by Dirk if it weren't for a couple of situations. When I saw Tim in my mirrors, I got really worried, but luckily, everything worked out well.
“This was our biggest win of the year. New team sponsor AVIVA is located here in Iowa, and they had so many people here. It was great to come out and get a victory in front of their guys.”
Valentine started the car 13th and improved several spots before pitting under the green flag. He watched as Lally fell a lap behind, but every other team made its first stop under green too, allowing Lally to make it into the top five when the first round of stops cycled through.
“As always, my job is just to come out here and hand the car off to Andy and let him take it from there,” Valentine said. “This is a great win for TRG. We are so pleased to be in victory lane once again and take second in points.”
Lewis's car owner and co-driver Leighton Reese, who started third, fell behind after a first lap skirmish with #85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes For Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 driver Dominik Farnbacher on the first lap. Despite spinning, Reese stayed on the lead lap, and turned the car over to Lewis after returning to the top five. Lewis never dropped out of the top five, and after getting past Werner for second, didn't have enough to run down Lally.
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