Motorsports Update – August 20, 2012
GRAND-AM Road Racing
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas had their second win of the season in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Montreal 200, clinching the Ganassi operation’s 150th win in all forms of major motorsports.
Pruett, who drove the anchor leg, led the final 37 of 66 laps in the two-hour race in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley. Pruett slipped by Ryan Dalziel’s No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley for the lead just past the halfway mark, and then kept the advantage after the final series of pit stops several minutes later.
Pruett and Rojas, who started second, padded their points lead in the featured Daytona Prototype class to 18 points over Dalziel.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty took second in the No. 99 GAINSCO Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, 22.902 seconds behind the winners at the finish. Gurney capitalized when Ozz Negri gave up second place for a final pit stop for fuel with four minutes left in the No. 60 LiveOn.com/Curb Records Ford/Riley from Michael Shank Racing.
The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of David Donohue and Paul Tracy finished third, rallying from contact with Michael Valiante’s spinning No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP in Turn 1 on the opening lap.
Dalziel faltered in the points when he spun in Turn 10, collecting Ricky Taylor in their battle for third place with 27 minutes left. Race officials assessed Dalziel a stop-and-go plus 15-second penalty for avoidable contact and the resulting eighth-place finish cost him dearly in the standings with two races left in the season.
Robin Liddell and John Edwards won a close-quarters battle in the GT class, scoring the pole-winning team’s second victory of the season in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R. Liddell finished just .569 seconds ahead of the fast-closing No. 69 FXDD AIM Autosport Team Ferrari of Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal. Wayne Nonnamaker and Dane Cameron finished third in GT in the No. 43 TheRaceSite.com Mazda RX-8.
American Le Mans Series
Road America Road Race Showcase
Guy Smith and Dyson Racing were on the other end this time around at Road America. A year after missing out by 0.112 seconds, Smith delivered victory for Dyson Racing on Saturday in the closest overall finish in the history of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – 0.083 seconds.
Despite starting next-to-last on the grid, Smith and Chris Dyson won the four-hour Road America Road Race Showcase in an epic finish. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s Lucas Luhr appeared to have the race won by passing Smith in the final corner, but Smith and the No. 16 Lola-Mazda won a drag race up the hill and to the checkered flag.
The overall finish was one of a handful of magic moments on the day. CORE autosport clinched its second straight Prototype Challenge championship with a 1-2 finish led by Alex Popow and Tom Kimber-Smith.
BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller won in GT in another hard-fought battle. Conquest Endurance’s Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson won their second P2 race of the year and led overall twice.
Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen won in GT Challenge for Alex Job Racing. Their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup won by 2.459 seconds in a back-and-forth affair.
The victory ended Muscle Milk’s five-race win streak, but Graf and Luhr retained the lead in the class driver championship. Eric Lux, Michael Marsal and Tony Burgess placed third in the No. 20 Dyson Lola-Mazda after running second for most of the day.
Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix
It was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who recorded a dominant victory at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix in an eventful race ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.
It was Pedrosa who got the holeshot, but it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies who led the opening laps after overtaking the Spaniard early on. Yamaha’s Lorenzo, the only prototype rider to opt for the soft option rear tyre, had a less than ideal start, but was soon up into third, forcing his way past Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso. It was heartbreak early on for the Speed Master Team, as Mattia Pasini dropped his bike on the opening lap, escaping unscathed.
Pedrosa and Spies were providing a entertaining battle at the front in the early stages, as Lorenzo was unable to close the pair down. Meanwhile, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, riding with a pain killing injection due to his fractured right ankle with torn ligaments, forced his way past San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista with a strong move. With 24 laps remaining Pedrosa made a move stick down the home straight to take the lead. A lap later, Stoner was a man on a mission as he also took LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl to go fifth.
It was misery for Ben Spies with 22 laps left as the American’s engine blew down the straight, causing the oil flags to come out, with the Yamaha rider immediately pulling off the racing line. This affected the following group, as Stoner dropped back behind Dovizioso and Bradl. San Carlo’s Michele Pirro and Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci were also robbed of any good luck as then had to retire with technical issues. Three laps later, Tech 3’s British rider Cal Crutchlow lost the front end of his bike in turn 4, unfortunately putting an end to his charge. In the meantime, Stoner had fought his way back past his group into third, while Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet had to pull in with a mechanical issue.
With 12 laps to go Pedrosa, who was on record breaking pace, had a big wobble, yet managed to stop himself running onto the grass. This did not stop the Spaniard however, and he soon rediscovered his rhythm. Five laps on, Dovizioso was all over the back of Stoner, who was fighting fearlessly with his injury, and took him for third.
In the end it was Pedrosa whose dominant performance resulted in his second win of the season ahead of Lorenzo and Dovizioso, taking his fifth podium this year. Lorenzo retains his championship lead, though it has been cut to 18 points by his Spanish rival.
AMA Pro Racing
Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix
Tyler O’Hara responded brilliantly to Saturday’s disappointment with a bounce-back victory in Sunday’s second AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series contest to conclude the Red Bull Indianapolis GP weekend.
The JCR/Srubblade/Bartel’s Harley-Davidson ace took the checkered flag in trademark ‘Superman’ fashion after escaping to a 1.891-second margin of victory, an advantage he had worked up to nearly four seconds before cruising to his one-sided win.
However, in the race’s opening stages, it looked as if it would be MOB Racing/K Tech/Orient Express/Moroney’s P.J. Jacobsen who earned redemption. The gifted wild card was motivated to score a big result after he was initially believed to be the victor in yesterday’s abbreviated race, only to be dropped down the order after an AMA Pro investigation determined his bike caused the race-ending red flag.
Jacobsen got off to an exceptional start in his bid to win on Sunday, slicing into the lead on the opening lap and opening up a 1.873-second advantage over O’Hara before crashing from the lead and ultimately out of the contest on lap 4.
O’Hara took full advantage of Jacobsen’s misfortune and quickly broke free of a pack of pursuers that consisted of yesterday’s winner, Kyle Wyman (KLR Group/Spyke’s Harley-Davidson/Vesrah Racing), Supermoto ace Benny Carlson (Suburban Harley-Davidson), and his teammate, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike standout Bobby Fong, who made a spirited charge just to join the podium fight.
While O’Hara worked up his cushion in first, Wyman, Carlson, and Fong repeatedly swapped positions in a wide variety of ways, from hard braking overtaking to double-drafting maneuvers.
XR Showdown leader Wyman narrowly came out on top for the runner-up spot when the trio’s last-lap tactics were put to the test. Carlson scored the final position on the podium by a scant 0.070 seconds ahead of the fast-learning Fong.
Next race: Moscow Raceway, August 26
Next race: Shell Belgian Grand Prix, Spa, September 2
Next race: GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, August 26
Pure Michigan 400
Biffle took advantage Sunday when Jimmie Johnson — who was leading the race and the standings — had to leave the track with six laps to go because of a faltering engine. Biffle then held off Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish. The victory gave him the points lead for the first time since June. Johnson dropped from first to fourth. Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to second despite a 17th-place showing.
Kasey Kahne finished third in the 400-mile race, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.
Pole sitter Mark Martin was sailing along in the lead for most of the first 65 laps before his race ended in scary fashion. Bobby Labonte went into a spin while Martin was coming up from behind, and Martin went sliding off toward pit road. The driver’s side of his car crashed frighteningly into the end of a short, narrow barrier on the interior side of pit road.
The side of Martin’s car was essentially impaled by the end of the wall, just in front of the left rear tire and dangerously close to the driver’s seat. But in the smoky scene that followed, Martin was able to get out and walk away.
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, MN
Ron Capps topped the Funny Car field Sunday in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals to take the season lead with one race left in the regular season, and Erica Enders raced to her third Pro Stock victory of the season and second in a row.
Capps powered away from 15-time series champion John Force in the final round for his third victory of the season, third at Brainerd International Raceway and 36th of his career.
Capps cruised to a final-round performance of 4.134 seconds at 304.05 mph in a Dodge Charger, while Force’s Ford Mustang lost traction and finished in 6.633 at 116.35.
Enders outran series points leader Allen Johnson in the final round with a 6.649 at 208.26 in a Chevy Cobalt. She’s the first female driver to win at BIR since Shirley Muldowney won a Top Fuel title in 1982.
Morgan Lucas won the Top Fuel division, and Eddie Krawiec topped the Pro Stock Motorcycle field.
Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites