Lexus Maintains Points Lead As MSR Duo Place 4th at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, NY (June 3, 2006) – Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri drove their #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley to a fourth-place finish to lead the Lexus-powered contingent in Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in rainy and difficult conditions at Watkins Glen International.
The Michael Shank Racing duo started eighth and ran with the leaders throughout the six-hour event. The race featured a stirring drive by Patterson, who climbed from eighth up to third in the final 90 minutes of the contest in what was probably the most impressive outing of his first full season of Daytona Prototype competition. A late-race pit stop dropped the pairing to fourth, where Negri charged back to become involved in a three-way duel for second, but was unable to squeeze by, finishing fourth – their third top-five finish of the season. Patterson currently sits ninth in the points chase, just two points out of eighth.
Joining Negri and Patterson in the top 10 were Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz who placed seventh after starting from the pole in their #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley. The changing weather conditions went against the Ganassi Racing team today, but they still managed to capture their seventh top-10 finish in eight starts this season. Pruett and Diaz slipped out of the series points lead down to second, but are just four points out of the top spot in the Driver’s Championship.
The second MSR entry with Mike Borkowski, Tommy Constantine and Paul Mears Jr. in the Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus Riley lost a lap early, but fought back to earn a solid 14th-place finish today.
With today’s result, Lexus continues to hold a commanding lead in its hunt for a first Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Manufacturer’s Championship with a 13-point advantage over rivals such as Porsche, BMW, Ford and Pontiac.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series returns to action on June 24 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the EMCO Gears Classic. The race will be run Saturday night with the green flag scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED the following day, June 25, at 3:00 p.m. (all times EDT).
Lexus results – Start/Finish
#60 Mark Patterson/Oswaldo Negri 8/4
#01 Luis Diaz/Scott Pruett 1/7
#6 Mike Borkowski/Tommy Constantine/Paul Mears Jr. 16/14
MARK PATTERSON, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: “That was fantastic! Oz told me to trust the car, and I did, and I was able to go up the hill completely flat out even though it was still a bit wet so I was able to get by Andy Wallace (for third-place). He gave me exactly enough room to do it safely, an utter professional. After Phoenix, we decided that we didn’t need to take the big chances, to focus on getting to the finish in every race, and to make the most of the fantastic package that Mike Shank and his team brings to the track every race weekend, and I think this result is a just reward for putting our heads down and getting on with the job. With a championship as tight as this one, every point is precious and if we can keep it up with these kinds of finishes we should be in decent shape.”
OSWALDO NEGRI, #60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley: “I am so proud of Mark and the progress he has made in the car. He is really an incredible natural talent, and he really motivates everyone around him. The Lexus motor we had was excellent as always, and the guys did a great job with our pit strategy and with tire selection all day. We made some good compromises with the set-up for the race, and I think we went in exactly the right direction so we could be competitive no matter what the conditions were.”
SCOTT PRUETT, #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley: “There’s really not much to say after a day like today. Weather had a big part in the outcome. I think we had to make some big calls on tire choices when it mattered, and that hurt a bit because we were down a lap when it all started to unravel. Seventh is still a strong showing, but this team always strives for the best. The car just wasn’t where we would have liked it to have been this weekend.”
LUIS DIAZ, #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley: “A couple times we had to make a call on tires, and it’s a tough situation when the team was faced with the conditions we had out there for six hours. It was constantly changing throughout the event. Although, we didn’t get the result we wanted today, we are still focused on the championship, and that remains the priority, win or lose.”
PAUL MEARS, #6 Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus-Riley: “I had a lot of fun out
there. It felt like I had some rust to knock off not having been in the car for so long, but once I got some laps under my belt I was fine. It was also a blast watching Mark (Patterson) making those passes!”
MIKE BORKOWSKI, #6 Playboy Racing/Mears Motor Coach Lexus-Riley: “It was tough out there because once we got a lap down, we just wanted to make sure we stayed out of trouble to get to the finish and not ruin anyone else’s race. Tommy Constantine did a great job in his first run with us, and it was also great to have Paul Mears racing with us again. I’m looking forward to Mid-Ohio because we had a good car there last year, but not a good race, so I think we can be strong there at the team’s home track.”
Credit: Lexus Motorsports