One week after taking an improbable first victory in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, AIM Autosport made victory number two look easy at Watkins Glen International as Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins made it back-to-back victories.
The pair led 78 of the 82 laps to win the Crown Royal 200, round twelve of the 2008 campaign, ahead of defending champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. Having secured victory in Montreal last week in the closest finish in series history, the win this time around was by a more 'comfortable' margin of just under two second.
“It was a tough race and was mentally very fatiguing,” Frisselle said. “We didn't know what the elements were going to throw at us, because the track was constantly changing. Overall, it was a great result. Mark drove the wheels off the car at the end, and I did my best at the beginning.”
Gurney and Fogarty's second place finish in the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley cut the championship lead of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas to 49 points with three races remaining. The six-time race winning #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley was never a factor in the race, taking 13th – two laps down – for the team's worst finish of the season after scoring eight podium finishes in ten races. Darren Law and David Donohue finished third in the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, followed by Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen in the #23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Riley and the #76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola of Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson.
The opening laps of the race were run in intermittent showers, causing several of the competitors to start the race on rain tyres. The changing conditions led to numerous green-flag pit stops, dropping nearly half the field at least one lap down in the early going. Frisselle started from the pole and led throughout his 30-lap shift. Wilkins took over and led the 31st lap, before being passed while on pit road by Christian Fittipaldi, who stayed out in the #16 Crown Royal Cask #16 Pontiac Coyote. Fittipaldi pitted to hand the controls over to Garcia four laps later, turning the lead back to Wilkins.
Wilkins had built up a 19.939-second lead over Gurney on lap 56, when a caution period was put in place to retrieve the stalled #4 Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace. There was then drama on the restart when Eric van de Poele lost control, spun in turn eleven and hit the tyre wall, nearly flipping the #75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.
That bunched the field for the restart with 19 laps/32 minutes remaining, but Wilkins pulled away. Although he was passed by Joao Barbosa in late stages of the race, the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley was two laps down.
“We had a great gap, we had a great lead,” Wilkins said. “We gave it up and we had to fight at the end. I had to bring this car home for the guys.
“I have to thank all of the AIM Autosport crew, Ford, and Roush-Yates for a great engine. We just got this car dialled in during practice and Brian did a spectacular job in the first half of this race and in qualifying. He just was fantastic. When it got a little wet, he kept pushing, he kept it on the track and made no mistakes. You can't make mistakes in this series. We had a great gap, we had a great lead. We gave it up and we had to fight at the end. I had to bring this car home for the guys. It was fantastic.