Grand AM » 26 March 2006
AJR duo secure maiden victory.
“At one point in the race I had a really good run at the #23 car,” Luhr said. “But lapped traffic held me up a bit, allowing the #01 car by. When I saw the white flag come out, I knew that I didn't have a choice. I had to go for it. The whole weekend was great for me. The team made me feel very comfortable, like I am around all the time. I felt very welcome from the first moment.”
The runner-up result enabled Fittipaldi to move into second place in the Daytona Prototype driver standings after three of 14 events. The Brazilian trails #76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley driver Jörg Bergmeister, who leads by just four points following an eighth place finish.
“This was a great result for the Cheever Racing team,” Fittipaldi said. “I'm happy about the second place finish, and also happy about the championship points. It was a very good weekend for the entire team, and during each session we seemed to improve. Now, I'm looking forward to our next race in Long Beach.”
Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz claimed the final spot on the podium – securing a second straight top-three finish following victory in the Mexico City 250 three weeks ago. The performance also allowed Pruett and Diaz to continue their forward progress in the Daytona Prototype championship standings, as they are currently tied for third with #19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford co-drivers Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell.
“I definitely got a little bit of help there toward the end,” Pruett said. “It was good hard racing and I was doing all I could do to hang the CompUSA car out of the edge. Overall, I thought it was a competitive race and a good show. We managed to get another top five and that's what we need to do to keep moving up in the point standings. That's all that counts.
“I can say that the Ganassi team used all of its resources to get that result tonight, the guys really worked hard on fuel mileage and getting us to the end.”
“Scott did a fantastic job tonight and proved once again why he is the class of the Daytona Prototype field,” added Diaz. “He drove the car to the limit, and then past the limit. The guy is amazing sometimes. He deserves this result for the great effort he put forth tonight. It was a tough race and a very competitive race for us. Scott did everything in his power to keep us in it in the end.”
McDowell and Gidley picked up their best result of the season with a fourth-place run for Playboy/Uniden Racing, finishing just ahead of team-mates Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay in the #5 Make A Wish/Z-Line Designs/Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford. Valiante and Finlay charged all the way from 18th on the starting grid, earning them the SunTrust Improve Your Position honours.
In a thrilling conclusion to the GT class, Paul Edwards powered his #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R past Sylvain Tremblay in the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 on the penultimate lap and held off the South Florida resident the rest of the way to clinch a second-consecutive GT class victory for himself and co-driver Kelly Collins.
The Pontiac and the Mazda engaged in one of the tightest battles on the track throughout the race, changing positions a number of times before Edwards dived inside Tremblay on lap 106 of the 107-lap event.
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