For the second straight year, Alex Gurney lost a heartbreaker in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Max Angelelli held off a last-lap charge on Saturday to win round seven of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask #16, winning by 0.270 seconds - the fifth-closest finish in the history of the series.
Angelelli, who also won this event in 2004, co-drove with Brian Frisselle in the #10 SunTrust Ford Dallara. Angelelli led the final 33 of 70 laps to give the team its first victory since last year at Infineon Raceway, and allowed the two drivers to close to within one point of point leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas (199-198). Gurney and Jon Fogarty are another two points back with 196.
"It was a very fair game," Angelelli said after scoring his 13th career Daytona Prototype victory. "It was a good, tough battle. It was really difficult today. Thanks to SunTrust Racing for the good car they gave me. I went out for my stint in the lead, which was really important."
It was the third career victory for Frisselle, and first since joining the Wayne Taylor-owned team in 2009.
It was also a very hot battle. The event - traditionally held in the evening - was moved to 2 p.m. to set up a holiday doubleheader that also included the Coke Zero 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The race was held in 90-degree temperatures and high humidity. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Scott Speed prepared for their race by running the Brumos Porsche 250, finishing tenth in their Rolex Series debut in the #02 Waste Management Lexus Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
"It was miserably hot out there," said Fogarty, who led eight laps. "We had a pretty good opening stint and were able to get by the #01 car, which was obviously a main objective since they're leading the points."
A year ago, Gurney led Scott Pruett throughout the final laps, only to lose on a last-lap slingshot. While he managed to briefly gain the advantage in the infield several times in the closing laps, Angelelli was able to regain the lead on the NASCAR oval.
"It was a very eventful race for me," Gurney said. "It was very hot and very slippery out there. We were down one or two mph on the banking and maybe that hurt us. But Max drove a great race, nice and clean. We didn't win, but we feel really good about the rest of the season after this."
Pruett gained three positions in the closing laps to place seventh in the #01 TELMEX Lexus Riley. Memo Rojas started from the pole and led 18 laps. However, he cut a tire on his last lap before turning the car over to Pruett, who rejoined the race 13th.
Taking third was the #45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley for Ryan Dalziel and Bill Lester, who scored his first podium finish in Rolex Series competition.