PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 13, 2006)
Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett combined to lead more than 100 laps in earning Lexus its fourth Rolex Sports Car Series victory of the season in Saturday night’s Gainsco Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway.
|Diaz moved his #01 CompUSA Lexus Riley into the lead on Lap 8 and other than relinquishing the top spot while pitting, they gave up the lead for only 18 laps over the remainder of the 149-lap event in notching their third victory of the season. The triumph moved Diaz and Pruett back into the series points lead and made Pruett the first driver in Daytona Prototype history to register 10 wins.
Things didn’t go nearly as well for Michael Shank Racing (MSR) after a promising start to the weekend. A crash during Friday’s qualifying race resulted in a one-race suspension for Oswaldo Negri, the lead driver on the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley. The team was forced to recruit a replacement driver to join Mark Patterson with less than 24 hours notice and tabbed Scotsman Rod MacLeod to fill the role. The end result was a 16th-place finish.
The second MSR entry with Mike Borkowski and Antoine Bessett appeared to be a contender for top honors as Bessette ran in the top-five early. Unfortunately, the strong effort from the Canadian went for naught when Bessette was knocked off-track by one of the GT entries while running in sixth, forcing the #6 Mears Motor Coach Lexus-Riley to retire early in 23rd-place. After finishing an impressive fifth in Friday’s qualifying race, Borkowski wasn’t even able to climb into the car due to the early retirement.
Tonight’s victory is the 12th for Lexus in three years of Grand Am competition and, combined with the second in yesterday’s qualifying race, gives the luxury automaker a commanding lead over Porsche in the Manufacturer’s Championship race.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series returns to action on June 3 at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. The race will be shown live and in its entirety on SPEED beginning at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
Lexus results – Start/Finish
#60 Mark Patterson/Rod MacLeod 17/16
#6 Antoine Bessette/Mike Borkowski 5/23
SCOTT PRUETT, #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley: “Luis did a great job team. Really the whole team did. Our pit stops were strong, Lexus gave us a good engine and the tires were good throughout. This might be the toughest track we go to all year.
LUIS DIAZ, #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley: “This is a great win for us. We came here without testing, while four or five of the other teams came here for at least a day, so we really didn’t expect this type of result. The Lexus power helped us a bunch and it really made a difference today. We really have to give a lot of the credit to the entire team. They did a great job today.”
Credit: Lexus Motorsports