A controversial drive-through penalty dropped Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas from podium contention in the Armed Forces 250 at Infineon Raceway, but the pair continue to inch closer to the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series title.
Pruett was passing the #58 Porsche-powered Brumos DP entry for fourth position on a late restart when the two cars appeared to make slight door-to-door contact. Pruett then quickly closed on the third-place car, but was quickly issued the drive-through penalty by Grand-Am officials for 'avoidable contact' and fell back to tenth.
"We received a stop-and-go penalty that I wouldn't necessarily agree with, but Grand-Am decided they wanted to do that, and that's that," veteran Pruett admitted, "There's nothing we can do about that, so we'll just go to New Jersey next week and keep doing what we're doing. I thought we might have had a shot for the podium before the penalty, but it was so difficult to pass here.”
Pruett was prepared to settle for tenth, however, and used the remaining laps to pick off four of the cars ahead of him to eventually finish sixth.
“Obviously, we're disappointed with the outcome but, at the same time, we're still fighting for the championship," he added, "We only lost a few points to the #99 car, which is important."
The Lexus-powered duo maintain a 42-point championship lead with just two races remaining, and need only 17th place finishes at each of season's final two events to clinch the title. Indeed, the season could be wrapped up next weekend should they finish ahead of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing car or by placing fourth or better. Success would be an American record eighth major sportscar title for Pruett, while Rojas would become the first Mexican driver ever to win a major US championship.
The Rolex Sports Car Series will now make the long trek from northern California to the east coast for the inaugural race at the New Jersey Motorsports Park next Sunday [31 August].
"If we can't get the win, we'll just run for the most points we can get," Rojas admitted, "But, with our lead in the points, the most important thing is that we need to finish.”