TORRANCE, Calif. (March 3, 2007) – After winning the season-opening
Rolex 24 at Daytona, Lexus registered another strong performance in the
Rolex Sports Car Series as the manufacturer placed four cars in the
top-10 in Saturday’s Mexico City 400k at the Autodromo Hermanos
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett combined to finish fourth as the highest-placing Lexus in their #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley. The finish marks the second consecutive top-five showing for the team and keeps Pruett on top of the series point standings. Earlier in the day, Pruett won the pole for tomorrow’s NASCAR Busch Series event.
The drive of the day may have belonged to the AIM Autosport duo of Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle. After starting 18th due to an electrical problem in qualifying, Wilkins quickly maneuvered his #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley up through the field. Eventually, he climbed as high as fourth before turning the car over to Frisselle, who re-joined the field in ninth and regained two positions in the last hour. The team has now finished in the top seven in each of the season’s first two races, despite having only one previous Rolex Series start prior to this year’s Rolex 24.
Michael Shank Racing also had an impressive day, placing two cars in the top 10. Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri earned their second consecutive ninth-place finish in the #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley after starting 12th, while their teammates Ian James and Henri Zogaib registered a 10th-place finish in the #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley.
Southard Racing rounded out the Lexus contingent with a 15th-place finish, but the result wasn’t indicative of the strong run made by the #3 Preformed Line Products Lexus-Riley driven by Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman. Lewis was involved in a hotly-contested three-way battle for fifth-place through the mid-portion of the race and ran as high as sixth during the event before the team slipped back in the field late in the race.
The Homestead-Miami Speedway is next up for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series on March 24 with SPEED providing same-day coverage.
Lexus results – Start/Finish
#01 Memo Rojas/Scott Pruett 3/4
#61 Mark Wilkins/Brian Frisselle 18/7
#60 Mark Patterson/Oswaldo Negri 12/9
#6 Henri Zogaib/Ian James 17/10
#3 Shane Lewis/Randy Ruhlman 10/15
Brian Frisselle, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "I feel comfortable here; I feel comfortable on all high-speed tracks. The credit all goes to the crew: they gave Mark and I a great car. I can’t thank Mark enough for making it easy on me, bringing the car up [through the field] – I didn’t have to pass barely anyone. Overall, it’s just a great result."
Mark Wilkins, #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "We overcame some adversity in the last couple of days. We missed a session, we missed qualifying and that hurt us, but we knew we had a great car. All the AIM guys just did a fantastic job. Our goal was to win the SunTrust award for most-improved position and if we accomplished that, it was a very successful race."
Michael Shank, MSR Team owner: “We’re happy to put this one in the books and get some good points towards the championship here this weekend. Running the full race without a yellow means you have to have some great driving and solid pit stops, and we got both today. Getting both cars into the top 10 can be difficult in this series with this level of competition, but the guys put in a lot of effort this weekend and it paid off today.”
Mark Patterson, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: “I was disappointed that I couldn’t quite match the times I was doing in practice earlier this weekend, but the car was great and I had a lot of fun out there. We were pretty conservative on the tires in the early going, but I was able to set some pretty quick laps late in my stint so that strategy paid off.”
Oswaldo Negri, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: “This was good for the points for us. I didn’t think enough about the championship last year, but I was really focused on that today, not taking unnecessary risks or jeopardizing the car. The guys did a great job all weekend, and now I am looking forward to a race in my hometown (Miami) at the end of the month.”
Henri Zogaib, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: “That top-ten finish is exactly what we needed. Ian did an excellent job and I have goose bumps right now!”
Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: “The first set of tires I had developed a pretty severe understeer. But the second set was excellent, and from there I was flat out to the end. My hats off to the guys because the car was just great. I was able to pass a lot of cars out there today to get the first top-10 of the year with Henri.”
Credit: Lexus Motorsports
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