Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas extended their Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series lead on Saturday with their second consecutive Rolex Series win in the young 2008 season.
The pilots of the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley captured Saturday's GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The duo combined to lead 51 laps overall, including 41 for Pruett, to win the 99-lap race by 1.645 seconds over defending race co-winner Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand of Alex Job Racing. Pruett and Rojas were also part of the quartet that won January's Rolex 24 At Daytona. With the win, the two stretched their championship lead to a 13-point gap over defending champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty following two events.
It also marked Pruett's record-extending 16th Daytona Prototype victory in Grand-Am competition.
“Everything was good today; we could run inside, outside – high, low, really anywhere on the track,” Pruett said. “This was truly one of the best cars I've ever had. The engine was phenomenal. They've worked hard to improve our drivability since Daytona – and in all the races we've won, I think this might have been our best Lexus engine ever.”
Rojas earned his third career Rolex Series win in a race that was slowed by nine full course caution periods for 40 laps.
“We got banged around pretty good on that first lap and lost a position, but we were able to stay in it,” Rojas said. “Once we went into the lead the car really ran well. It's a bit cooler today than it was in qualifying and the car was working was working better.”
Auberlen and Hand finished second in the #23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford. Auberlen avoided trouble from the early cautions throughout his stint before passing off to Hand.
“My stint was no problem because I knew there were going to be a lot of yellows, a lot of accidents,” Auberlen said. “I thought I would take it easy and let the race come to us because that is kind of how it was last year. The car was really good, especially after restarts. [However], on the last restart, the car became very loose and really bad.”
Hand was able to reel in the troubles of the #23 and led 14 laps before losing the lead to Pruett on lap 78. From there, Hand hung around for a runner-up finish.
“Our car was good enough today,” Hand said. “When we got here on Thursday, we were in the dumps. We were not good. But, the Ruby Tuesday crew worked and worked to find some stuff. When it looked like we should have packed up, they persevered. And today, we had the best race car that we had all weekend.”
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