Grand AM » 25 September 2005
Groundhog day as SunTrust duo extend Grand-Am gap.
After starting from the pole position, Diaz led the first eleven laps before making a pit-stop under full-course caution. The Mexican quickly worked his way back toward the front following the stop, and returned to the top five on lap 22, where the #01 machine would remain for the rest of the race. Diaz turned the car over to Pruett under a full-course caution on lap 41, and the American rejoined the race in second place behind Angelelli.
“There were a few places where I could pull up to them, but I just couldn't get there,” Pruett said, “This track is so fast, I would get up to him, but I couldn't keep the nose going. Unfortunately, we had some contact after the chequer, but it was an honest mistake. He didn't have any mirrors, and when I went up to give him a thumbs-up, he drove me off the track. There was more contact after the chequer than before, but it was a great race.
"I agree with Wayne, the pit-stop was pivotal and they did a great job. I have to take my hat off to them.“
It was the twelfth time in as many races this season that the driver who led the opening lap has not gone on to win the race. Nevertheless, it was the sixth podium finish of the season for Diaz and Pruett, and was their eleventh top-seven performance in twelve races.
“It was very important for us to win this race, but unfortunately the traffic didn't help me,” Diaz said, “When I was fighting with [Jorg] Bergmeister, he blocked me a little bit and Max passed me. They did a great job. We did everything we could to win this race, but sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. We still have more to go, and we're going to be there.”
While Pruett and Angelelli fought it out for the victory, Oswaldo Negri Jr and Alex Gurney had an even tighter battle for third place just a few hundred yards behind the leaders. Negri - driving the #60 Flight Options Riley-Lexus for Michael Shank Racing - duelled with Gurney in the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Riley-Pontiac as the race reached its conclusion. The battle was cut short, however, when Gurney's car experienced a fuel system failure just three laps shy of the chequered flag.
Gurney's misfortune allowed Negri to claim the final podium position for himself and co-driver Mark Patterson. It was a Rolex Series career-best result for Patterson, and was Negri's best finish since a second-place performance in the 200-mile event at Watkins Glen in 2004. Gurney and co-driver Bob Stallings wound up eleventh.
Borcheller - the 2003 Daytona Prototype champion - belatedly joined forces with Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette to give CB Motorsports its best-ever Daytona Prototype result with a fourth-place run in the #15 Riley-Pontiac. Memo Gidley and co-driver Michael Valiante brought the #19 Finlay Motorsports Riley-BMW home to its sixth top-five result of the season with a fifth-place showing, despite Valiante standing in for suspended regular Michael McDowell.
Bergmeister led nine laps aboard the #66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, and was looking for his second consecutive Rolex Series victory, but stand-in co-driver Max Papis tangled with Butch Leitzinger's #4 Boss Snowplow Crawford-Pontiac in turn one, which removed the nose from Leitzinger's car and flattened the right-rear tyre of the #66 machine.
In turn four of the same lap, Papis was able to drive away from what would become a five-car accident, but the resulting damage from both incidents removed the #66 from the race and Bergmeister from consideration for the Daytona Prototype title. Papis and Bergmeister were credited with a 17th place result in the Daytona Prototype class and 30th place overall.
Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger remain in outside contention for the DP title, but trail points leaders Angelelli and Taylor by 62 points and are 23 in arrears of Diaz and Pruett after coming home 15th.
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