2012 GRAND-AM News And Notes: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
The Race: EMCO Gears Classic
The Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
The Date: Saturday, June 9
The Time: 11 a.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, June 17, 12 p.m. (ET)
Distance: 2 hours, 30 minutes

TOTAL Performance Showcase
The Race: Race #3
The Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
The Date: Sunday, June 10
The Time: 11 a.m. (ET)
Distance: 45 minutes

Rolex 24 At Daytona Winning Team Returns Home to Ohio

Michael Shank won the first “red letter” race on his 2012 schedule, the prestigious 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 28-29.

This weekend, the Columbus, Ohio-based car owner has another big event, when he returns home for Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Ozz Negri and John Pew drive the No. 60 LiveOn.com Ford Riley for Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, which has its shops in the east Columbus suburb of Pataskala.

“This will be our first race at home as Rolex 24 champions, so we are all really looking forward to a strong run on Saturday,” Shank said. “It’s great to be going back to Mid-Ohio second in the team championship.”

NASCAR’s AJ Allmendinger and IndyCar’s Justin Wilson joined Negri and Pew in winning at Daytona. While Pew and Negri are tied for third in the DP standings – four points behind leaders Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio – Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian is second behind Starworks Motorsport in the team championship (142-138).

After finishing eighth and seventh in the second and third races of the season, Pew and Negri rebounded by placing third at New Jersey and fifth at Detroit Belle Isle.

“You have to just keep fighting in this series,” Shank said. “We want to keep executing and making the most of every weekend. On to Mid-Ohio!”

Three Manufacturers Represented In Top Five, In DP Points

Five races into the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, it’s still anyone’s game atop the standings of the premier Daytona Prototype class.

Only four points separate the top five in driver points, representing three different engine manufacturers.

Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio, drivers of the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley, came away from the most recent race as the first team to retain the DP points lead this season after a sixth-place finish in the Chevrolet GRAND-AM Detroit 200 at Belle Isle.
Belle Isle winner Darren Law – in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP for the first time this season – leapfrogged to second in the points, only one point behind the Starworks duo, 142-141. Law’s former co-driver – David Donohue – finished second at Detroit in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DPto join a three-way tie for third with 138 points.

Defending DP champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished third at Detroit in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley, and share 138 points with Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Ozz Negri and John Pew, who were fifth at Detroit in the No. 60 LiveOn.com Ford/Riley.
A number of other contenders could move toward the front this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli – two-time winners this season in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP – join Alex Popow and Lucas Luhr of the No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley in a tie for sixth, eight points behind the leaders. It’s only another two points back to Barber winner Richard Westbrook, driver of the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, while Detroit winner Joao Barbosa in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP is ninth, 14 points back.

Tenth in the standings with 122 points are Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in theNo. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP, coming off a fourth-place finish at Detroit.

Corvette, Ferrari Continue To Lead Manufacturer Standings

If seeing the extensive sponsor presence at Saturday’s Chevrolet GRAND-AM Detroit 200 at Belle Isle wasn’t enough, General Motors’ world headquarters was visible from the race track.

Drivers for the Bow Tie Brigade came through, winning in both classes in GRAND-AM’s first competition in the Motor City.
Joao Barbosa and Darren Law led a 1-2 sweep for Action Express Racing’s Corvette DPs, giving the new GM product its fourth straight victory – spread among three different teams.

“Winning in Detroit with the Corvette – it can’t be better than this,” Barbosa said.

The Detroit victory helped Chevrolet pad its lead in the Daytona Prototype manufacturers’ standings to eight points over Ford (166-149). Ozz Negri andJohn Pew finished fifth in the No. 60 LiveOn.com Ford/Riley at Detroit Belle Isle to lead the Ford contingent, although Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio finished sixth in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley to maintain the lead in the driver standings.

Paul Edwards and Jordan Taylor came home GT winners at Detroit Belle Isle in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – ending Ferrari’s two-race winning streak.

Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato finished fourth in the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia. Ferrari continues to lead in the GT manufacturers’ championship with 156 points, six more than Chevrolet. The top four manufacturers in the GT class are separated by eight points through the first five races of the season.

Pruett, Rojas Hope To Break Eight Race Winless Streak After Third Podium Of Season

After a last-place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished third at Detroit Belle Isle to keep the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley in title contention.

Now, it’s on to the friendly confines of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Saturday’s EMCO Gears Classic, where Pruett and Rojas are looking to snap an eight-race losing streak.

The longest break between victories for the two drivers was nine races, which began midway through 2008 and ended at the 2009 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

Pruett is the leading Rolex Series winner at Mid-Ohio. He and Rojas won in 2009 and 2010, while Pruett also won for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2004, co-driving with Max Papis. Pruett and Rojas have combined for a record DP victories – eight more than the next prolific duo, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.

Looking to win their third consecutive title – and fourth in five seasons – Pruett and Rojas are tied for third in the DP standings, four points out of the lead.

Potolicchio, Assentato Lead Pro-Am Drivers, Sit Atop Rolex Series DP, GT Points

In addition to leading the respective Daytona Prototype and GT points, Enzo Potolicchio and Emil Assentato also head the standings for the top Pro-Am drivers in their divisions.

Potolicchio’s lead in the Jim Trueman Award standings was cut to 21 points byJohn Pew, 1,569-1,548. Pew is looking to become GRAND-AM’s first three-time Pro-Am award winner, after taking the honor in 2010 and 2011.

Assentato increased him lead in the Bob Akin Award standings from 59 to 83 points, while John Potter passed Wayne Nonnamaker for second in the standings by a single point.

Drivers earn points for the respective awards based on their car’s finishing positions, as well as accumulating one point for each lap completed in an event. The top Pro-Am finisher in either class is recognized during the podium ceremonies following every race, with the award winners receiving a hand-crafted award at the post-season banquet.

Rolex Series, Etc …

• Action Express 1-2: In its first race with a new driver line-up, Action Express Racing finished 1-2 at Belle Isle. The team swapped drivers Darren Law andTerry Borcheller. The win moved Law to second in DP driver points
• Headed to the Brickyard: Select GRAND-AM teams will go from Mid-Ohio to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 12 for a tire test in preparation for the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard.

Sarah Cattaneo Returns To RSR Motorsports After Near-Title Run

The last time Sarah Cattaneo drove a Mini Cooper S for RSR Motorsports was at Mid-Ohio, when she was battling for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner championship in the 2012 season finale.
Entering the race three points behind in the standings, Cattaneo won the pole and led the race but a mechanical problem led to a 24th-place finish. She placed fourth in the final points.

In her two seasons with RSR Motorsports, she earned two poles, one victory and a second place. Cattaneo began the 2012 season with another team, but the Arizona driver returns to RSR Motorsports this weekend. She will co-drive the No. 198 Cruise America Mini Cooper with Kyle Gimple.

“Mid-Ohio just works for me,” Cattaneo said. “I’m excited to get back into an RSR Mini. I love those cars and hope I can pick up right where I left off. The car is so good at Mid-Ohio.”

RSR Motorsports has momentum on its side. The team won the most recent Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, where veteran Owen Trinkler teamed with Ohio rookie Corey Fergus to win in the team’s No. 197 Honda Civic Si.

Large Number of Local Drivers Looking For Success At Mid-Ohio

Two Cincinnati drivers – John Edwards and BJ Zacharias – are among 10 Ohio residents entered in the EMCO Gears Classic.
Edwards drives the No. 9 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro with Matt Bell in the Grand Sports class. He will be doing double duty on Saturday, also driving the team’s Camaro in the GT class of the Rolex Series with Robin Liddell.

Zacharias joins car owner Kevin Doran of Cincinnati in a new No. 14 Nissan 370Z. Zacharias, the Rolex Series GT winner at Mid-Ohio in 2003, will co-drive the car that was eliminated in a first-lap incident in its only race at Barber Motorsports Park. Zacharias finished second in Street Tuner in last year’s Mid-Ohio event, co-driving a Doran Racing BMW 128i with Tim Bell.

Corey Fergus (Powell) was the ST winner at New Jersey Motorsports Park. He returns with Owen Trinkler in the No. 197 RSR Motorsports Cruise America Honda Civic Si. Three Ohio drivers will share time in the two Honda of American Racing Team (HART) entries. Steve Eich (Raymond) and John Schmitt(Sunbury) are entered in the team’s No. 92 Red Line Oil Honda Civic Si, withChad Gilsinger (Marysville) driving the No. 93.

CTSCC veteran Ray Mason of Columbus returns with Ryan Eversley in the Compass360 Racing No. 75 Columbus Truck/Children’s Tumor Foundation Honda Civic Si.

Veteran Mark Sandridge (Westfield Center) teams with Freddy Baker of Bedford in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Carrera. Sandridge is CEO of Ohio-based Sandridge Food Corporation

M. Allen Milarcik (New Philadelphia) and Mike Slutz (Bolivar) co-drive the No. 69 Mazda RX-8 for Pirate Motorsports of New Philadelphia.

TOTAL Performance Showcase Set For Third Race

GRAND-AM’s newest division, the TOTAL Performance Showcase, races for the third time this weekend as part of the EMCO Gears Classic. The sub-compacts take to the track on Sunday at 11 a.m. for a 45-minute race.
Robbie Davis returns in the No. 37 Mini of Charleston Mini Cooper. The Texan finished second in the opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then finished third at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Also competing is Brian Audet, who finished second in New Jersey in the No. 35 Urban East Racing Mini Cooper.

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