SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2006) – It didn’t look good for the #01 CompUSA Lexus after Luis Diaz was knocked off the track while running third in the early going, but teammate Scott Pruett charged through the field from the 15th position to win Saturday’s Sonoma 250 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Infineon Raceway.
Diaz started the race in fourth and had moved up to third before being struck and spun off track by the #75 car on Lap 22. Diaz was able to continue, but not until after losing numerous positions on the race track. He pitted shortly afterward on the full-course caution and turned the car over to Pruett who re-entered the race in 15th.
He then methodically carved his way through the competition before taking the lead for good on Lap 74 when the leaders pitted. Pruett then stretched out to a 38-second lead before stopping for a quick splash of fuel on Lap 89. He maintained the lead through the stop and then faced one final challenge with a late-race yellow that created a five-lap shoot-out. The northern California native was more than up to the task and pulled out to an eventual margin of victory of 2.2 seconds.
The win is the fifth of the season for Pruett and Diaz and moves the duo into second place in the Driver’s Championship, just 19 points out of the series lead heading into the final race at Salt Lake City next weekend. In addition, the #01 car takes over the series Team Championship lead for Ganassi Racing, which holds a four-point advantage with one race remaining.
For Michael Shank Racing, the results weren’t indicative of a pair of strong runs that saw the team’s entries run in the top 10 throughout much of the race before each was given a penalty for contact on the race track. Brian Frisselle and Mike Borkowski registered an 11th-place finish in their Playboy Racing/Mears Lexus-Riley, while Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson placed two positions behind their teammates in 13th in their #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley.
The win was the sixth of the season for Lexus, which has now won 14 races in 39 Rolex Series events since entering the series in 2004. The manufacturer heads into next weekend’s season finale leading the Daytona Prototype Manufacturer’s Championship by just two points.
The Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City , Utah , will play host to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season finale with the Discount Tire Sunchaser 9 Hours on Saturday, Sept. 2. SPEED will provide six hours of live race coverage with the network televising the first three and a half hours beginning at 2 p.m. and then rejoining for the finish beginning at 8:30 EDT.
Lexus results – Start/Finish
#01 Luis Diaz/Scott Pruett 3/1
#6 Mike Borkowski/Burt Frisselle 15/11
#60 Mark Patterson/Oswaldo Negri 19/13
– Scott Pruett’s victory tonight extends his Daytona Prototype record for career wins to 12.
– Today’s victory set Lexus’ single-season high for wins with six after winning five in 2004.
– Ganassi Racing registered its sixth win of the season, setting a new team single-season record.
Scott Pruett, #01 CompUSA Lexus: "It was awesome. There’s nothing like winning on your home court. We dug deep to pull out everything we had learned through the years to win this one. It didn’t look good early, but we had a good stop and then used some great strategy. We ran lean through the midway part of the race to conserve as much fuel as we could. We knew that we had to make that last pit stop as short as possible. Once we figured out how much we needed, we turned up the wick and just kept going faster and faster and faster.”
Luis Diaz, #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley: “We had a lot of bad luck in traffic early, but we were third and in a good spot to be fighting at the end. Then the #75 car just took me out. I had passed him (lapping him) and was clearly in front of him and he just didn’t brake (in Turn 7 before hitting Diaz’ car). On one hand, I’m unhappy about what happened on the race track. On the other, I’m happy for the team and the victory. (In regard to the crash) This is the second time they (the #75) have taken us out in three races. It’s not right what happened out there. We’ve always been clean and we’ve always raced like gentlemen and I hope Grand-Am does something about it.”
Credit: Lexus Motorsports
Photos: Grand American Road Racing
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