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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

September 22, 2008

Bob Sr.'s Weekend Racing Highlights

Editor's Note: Bob Sr. is my dad. He has been racing cars for almost 50 years. If he's not racing on the weekend you'll find him watching auto racing on TV. Every Monday he'll post an update with highlights and the inside scoop on the previous weekend’s big races.

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We start with the final 2008 Rolex Grand-Am Sportscar Series Race of the year that took place at Miller Motorsports Park, Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday.

This series uses Daytona Prototype race cars, which are arguably the most sophisticated sports cars racing today, along with their close brethren the LeMans Prototypes.

Here’s some background on these cars. They have a specific chassis developed by LOLA, Fabcar, Dallara, Riley, Doran, and Chase. These guys are all chassis builders for many series such as Champcar, Indycar and many other series.

The engines must be based on road-legal production units from major manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, Infinity, Lexus, Porsche and Pontiac. They're 4.5 to 5.0 Liters, limited to 500 H.P., weigh between 2225-2275 lbs. (depending on horse power), have 24-gallon fuel capacity and operate on 100-octane gas, max.

Drivers are some of the very best from around the world. Some ex-Formula One, Champcar, NASCAR and IRL champions, such as Ricardo Zonta, Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Jimmy Vassar, Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Max Papis, Scott Pruett, Boris Said, Buddy Rice and Christian Fittapaldi among many other notables. You will definitely see all of these guys and many more at the first race of the year, the 2009 24 Hours of Daytona in January.

So back to Saturdays race...

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty (Gurney, son of legendary Formula One racer Dan Gurney captured last year's Championship) were still in the running this year, but heavy favorite Scott Pruett and Mexican co-driver Memo Rojas in the TELMEX Lexus Riley needed only a few points to clinch the title. Pruett got his needed points midway through the race, leaving the battle for 2nd to Max Angelelli in the SunTrust #10 vs. Dallara and Gurney in the Gainsco Pontiac Riley. Rain caused some turmoil, with most drivers on slicks sliding off everywhere. Angelelli got by Gurney to take second place away at the end, but Gurney — in finishing third, after holding off the Brumos Porsche of Barbos — took a hard-fought second in the series championship.

The biggest surprise of the race... During the pit stops for rain tires, an unheralded Rafael Matos, driving for Shank Racing, suddenly appeared in the lead from fifth place after a brilliant pit stop by his team. He was just inserted as the 3rd driver for Shank, had never driven a DP car before, never saw the track before and simply walked away from the field setting fast lap of the race again and again in the #6 Ford Riley. He won by a huge margin.

We will certainly hear a lot more from this 20 year old.

Winning the race within the race in the GT class were Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards, in the Banner Racing Pontiac GXP-R. They also cinched the Manufacturers Championship for Pontiac with the win. Porsche and Mazda took second and third.

Ganassi's team of Pruett and Rojas look like the team to beat in '09. After his 3rd  Championship Pruett says he'll be back hungry as ever next year.

Too bad guys...

Nascar action at Dover Delaware - The Monster Mile

Biffle Does it Again!!! Roush cars 1,2,3!

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The three Roush Ford drivers battled as hard as they could without wrecking each other after passing Jimmy Johnson, who had been leading late in the race. Fans at the Monster Mile were on their feet throughout the last laps as the intensity was terrific.

Team owner Jack Roush didn’t want to look, as all three of his cars were all over each other, but they somehow managed to keep it clean. The top 5 drivers agreed they were all happy to be part of such a terrific race, win or lose.

Not the case with Kyle Busch, the points leader all season. He lost an engine finishing 43rd and dropped to 12th in the Chase.

Edwards still holds the Chase lead with Biffle and Johnson now tied for 2nd.
Veteran Mark Martin took a solid 4th in the race with Johnson eventually coming in 5th.
6th Kevin  Harvick
7th Jeff Gordon
8th Clint Bowyer
9th Jeff Burton
10th Michael Waltrip

The Chase goes on…

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