Ganassi Cars Give Lexus 1-2 Finish At Iowa
NEWTON, Iowa (July 13, 2007) - Scott Pruett took over the lead on Lap 88 and went on to lead the final 105 laps in pacing a one-two Lexus finish with teammate Michael Valiante in Friday night's Iowa 400k at the Iowa Speedway.
Pruett, who co-drove the #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley with Memo Rojas, earned
a Rolex Series record 14th victory. In addition, the win also marked a
record 15th Rolex Series triumph for Chip Ganassi Racing. For Rojas,
it was his first-ever Daytona Prototype win.
The night also marked a career-best finish for the duo of Rob Finlay and Valiante, who hounded Pruett throughout the final laps on the way to giving the Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus team its' first-ever one-two finish in the #19 Z-Line Designs Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley.
It also was fruitful night for three other Lexus-powered teams. Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson teamed to finish fifth in the #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus, while the Southard Motorsports #3 PLP Lexus placed a season-best eighth with Mark Martin, Shane Lewis and Randy Ruhlman. The #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus also placed in the top-10 with a ninth-place showing with drivers John Pew and Ian James. Rounding out the Lexus contingent were Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle in the #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley in 15th.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series continues next weekend with the Porsche 250 at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
- Scott Pruett's victory was his 14th in Daytona Prototype competition, giving him a new Rolex Series record. The win also marked the fourth time in the last five races that Pruett and Memo Rojas placed in the top two - and was the team's 14th consecutive top-10 showing.
- Mark Martin made his Daytona Prototype debut in the #3 PLP tonight. Due to a late Nextel Cup qualifying run, Martin missed qualifying and was forced to start last. He and co-drivers Randy Ruhlman and Shane Lewis eventually placed a season-best eighth.
- Michael Valiante and Rob Finlay's second-place finish was their best-ever Grand-Am result and the pair have now placed eighth or better in their last four starts.
- Chip Ganassi Racing has had both of its team cars finish in the top-10 in each of the last four races, while Michael Shank Racing has placed two cars in the top-10 in four of the last five.
- Four Lexus-powered teams remain in the top-10 in the point standings. The #01 Chip Ganassi Racing team is first, followed by the #6 Michael Shank Racing team in seventh, their teammates in the #60 Michael Shank Racing moved up to eighth and AIM Autosport sits in 10th.
Lexus Iowa results - Start/Finish - Updated Team Point Standing
#01 Memo Rojas/Scott Pruett 2/1 1st
#19 Rob Finlay/Michael Valiante 5/2 17th
#60 Mark Patterson/Oswaldo Negri 10/5 8th
#3 Randy Ruhlman /Shane Lewis/Mark Martin 17/8 17th
#6 John Pew/Ian James 13/9 7th
#61 Mark Wilkins/Brian Frisselle 9/15 10th
Scott Pruet, #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley: "This was a great job by the whole team. Everything about our program just seems to mesh well - the team, the Lexus engines and now the second car with Michael and Rob. We've worked together to make both cars better and you could see that on the track today."
Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus-Riley: "The entire team did a great job tonight. They say that the first win is your hardest, so now that we have this one, I hope we can carry the momentum with us."
Rob Finlay, #10 Z-Line Designs/Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley: "It was a phenomenal day. I can't say enough about this whole team and how well everyone works together. The proof is in the pudding."
Michael Valiante, #19 Z-Line Designs/Make-A-Wish Lexus-Riley: "Scott just didn't make any mistakes. I might have had a chance to go down the inside (on the last lap) after the 01 had a bobble with fuel. But it was our best finish and these guys are battling for the championship and need the points - and then I figured it wasn't worth it to possibly crash us both out."
Ian James, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "Mike and his guys gave me another great car today. We just kept getting faster as the runs went on. John did a great job and had a good opening stint. It was so rewarding getting by the 23 car there at the end-if we'd have been cruising the last twenty laps, that never would have happened. But we were pushing all the way, and all those tenths add up if you can keep that kind of pace, so it felt great to move up one more spot right before the checker."
John Pew, #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "I just went for the hole (at the start). I had fun out there and it was nice to get through the start and not get hit by anyone for once! Then I had a nice little run going with Mark (Patterson), and the car just kept getting better as the laps went on. Even though these laps are so quick, it was nice to get into a nice rhythm for a while. Ian did another great job, and it feels good to keep this top-ten streak going for all Mike's guys, because they put a ton of effort and thought into everything they do for these races. Now, I can't wait to get to Barber."
Oswaldo Negri, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "Mark did a great job in his stint and it was great fun to see him having that battle with Mark Martin. He's really been working hard, and I have to also thank my engineer Dave Kanning, because he does a great job and puts up with me calling him three or four times a day to talk about how we can make this car go even faster. This whole team works so hard and it's great when everything comes together to get a hard-fought result like this."
Mark Patterson, #60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley: "This may not be the greatest driving track, but the laps are very intense. I don't know what happened at the start, I think Max (Papis) was napping a bit and I didn't want to get a penalty for moving out of the line to pass him, so I had to back out of it and we lost several spots right out of the gate."
Mike Shank, Michael Shank Racing team owner: "Oz (Negri) drove one of the best races we've ever seen him run in four years--just an outstanding job. And if things had played out a little differently, Ian would have been right there with him at the end. He was running laps as quick as the leaders and that was key to taking some of those positions late in the race. So I'm happy with our race and it's great to come out of here and move to seventh and eighth in the championship. We'll look for more next week."
Credit: Lexus Motorsports
Photos: Grand American
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