CompUSA Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley duo Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz scored their fourth victory of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen, tightening the championship points battle with only two races remaining.
Taking over from Diaz during the fourth of six full-course caution periods on lap 32 in second place, Pruett passed Guy Cosmo in the No. 09 AMD/Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford for the lead in the first turn on lap 43 of the 82-lap race. He withstood several challenges from Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley over the remaining laps, and crossed the stripe 0.553 seconds ahead of Angelelli to run his Rolex Series overall victory total to 11.
The result means Pruett extends his role as the winningest driver in the history of the Daytona Prototype class and is just two victories shy of James Weaver's Rolex Series record for overall wins.
“These Ganassi guys made such a great pit stop,” said Pruett. “I think whoever made it out first, either us or the (No.) 10 car, was going to win the race. It's been great the last three years between Max and me. He'll race you hard and race you clean and he's the best out here. We weren't quite as happy in practice as we'd like to have been, but made some changes and were very pleased with the car during the race.”
“It feels great to get this win,” said Diaz. “The team put in a lot of great effort to give us a good car. As soon as I started to feel the car on the first few laps, I knew we had a car to win. The Ganassi guys took time to make good pit stops and I gave the car to Scott in good shape. He did the rest.”
Angelelli and co-driver Ryan Briscoe wound up second, giving Angelelli his eighth-consecutive top-four result. Briscoe started the No. 10 car on alongside polesitter Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, and ran behind the second-generation racer throughout his stint.
When the lead group of cars headed down pit road during a caution on lap 33, Briscoe handed the car to Angelelli, but the No. 10 car came out just after the No. 01 Lexus. Despite throttle cable problems in the closing stages, Angelelli kept the pressure on Pruett throughout before settling for second.
“Scott really was fast today,” said Angelelli. “I gave everything I had but just couldn't get by him. We got lucky because we were losing some throttle towards the end of the race, and clearly I'm very happy with second place. Now, I'm ten points closer in the championship and hopefully we'll have a good finishes at the end of the year.”
Despite competing in just his third Rolex Series event of the season, Briscoe earned his second podium of the season in the No. 10 machine, both coming at Watkins Glen International. The Aussie collaborated with Angelelli and car owner Wayne Taylor to finish third in June's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June. Briscoe also finished third in June's Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event at The Glen.