JON FOGARTY, originally from the nearby Monterey County Area, and ALEX GURNEY of Southern California won on their home turf Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. They ran hard and fast in their No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley Daytona Prototype in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 race. The California duo have two Grand-Am championships on their resume, in 2007 and in 2009, the last time Grand-Am ran at the world renowned road course.
Gurney led once for 28 laps. It was the team’s first victory this season. They went from fifth to third in the DP standings.
Second in DP and overall were points leaders SCOTT PRUETT and MEMO ROJAS/No.01 TELMEX BMW Riley. Laguna Seca is also the home track for Pruett, who hails from Northern California.
Pruett made a special point to comment more than once at how pleasantly surprised he was at the great turnout for the race. He felt it was the best fan turnout ever for Grand-Am at Laguna Seca, sentiments echoed by the other podium drivers.
GILL CAMPBELL, CEO/General Manager Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, was all smiles after the race. While the track doesn’t release attendance figures, Campbell said “we doubled our race attendance” over previous events.
Many of the podium drivers were also positively expressive about returning to the classic elevated road course after a year’s hiatus.
Third was the Pole Sitters, RICKY TAYLOR and MAX ANGELELLI/No.10 Sun Trust Racing Chevrolet Dallara. The team led the most laps – 57, shared by the two. Angelelli led for 32 laps and Taylor for 25. Angelelli said “You can’t have a World Championship Series without coming here to Laguna Seca. It’s a mandatory race.”
First in GT and tenth overall was the Brumos Racing Team with Pole Sitters ANDREW DAVIS and LEH KEEN/No.59 Porsche GT3. They are now the points leaders. BILL LESTER and JORDAN TAYLOR/No.88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R had been the GT points leaders, but finished nineteenth after starting twentieth. Laguna is the home track for Lester, who hails from Oakland CA.
The Brumos Team led 47 laps, split almost equally between its two drivers. Keen also turned the fastest GT race lap at 1:29.601/89.919 mph.
Second in GT were the SpeedSource Mazda drivers, JEFF SEGAL and EMIL ACCENTUATE. Third was their sister car with team owner SYLVAIN TREMBLAY and JONATHAN BOMARITO, from Monterey CA. He led for 49 laps, the most of any GT driver.
ANTONIO GARCIA/No.90 Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet Coyote was the fastest DP driver, with a lap of1:21.030/99.430 mph, but he and co-driver PAUL EDWARDS finished twenty-first overall and tenth in class with 97 laps after the team had brake issues. Edwards also raced in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race.
Pruett and Rojas continue to dominate the DP driver standings, with 260 points each, 26 points ahead of Angelelli and Taylor. Third in the DP are Fogarty and Gurney.
The Brumos drivers, Davis and Keen, lead the GT driver standings with 222 points each, ten ahead of Lester and Jordan Taylor. Third in class is PAUL DALLA LANA/No.94 Turner Motorsports BMw M3 with 207 points.
The next race will be the American Red Cross 250 race at New Jersey Motorsports Park on 24 July 2011.
The Rolex series is sponsored by Crown Royal. It’s common knowledge that Crown Royal is reallocating its priorities in motorsports. MATT KENSETH/No.17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford is losing his Crown Royal sponsorship in his NASCAR Sprint Cup car. Regarding Crown Royal’s future with the Grand-Am Series, a NASCAR spokesman said “All such sponsor negotiations are ongoing; inappropriate to comment before that process is complete.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, garage gossip says Crown Royal will be the title sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 race next weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The adult beverage company already sponsors the spring Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.