Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook were determined to make a strong statement when they unloaded Friday at Laguna Seca Raceway. They started out by winning the pole for today’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (Rolex) race; and ended the weekend standing atop the Victory Podium with the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) sitting in the Winner’s Circle after claiming their third victory of the season – the first team to accomplish that in the Rolex DP class this season.
Pole-winner Westbrook started the race, and led the first 28 laps around the 2.238-mile/11-turn permanent road course. The running order shuffled with pit stops, but Westbrook kept the bright blue Corvette DP in the hunt, near the front of the field, until he turned the car over to Garcia.
Garcia was credited with leading twice for a total of 11 of the 111 laps run, taking the lead for the last time with five laps remaining in the race.
The victory was the seventh for the all-new Corvette Daytona Prototype in its inaugural season in Rolex competition, and moved Chevrolet closer to the coveted Engine Manufacturers’ Championship with one race remaining in the season.
Claiming the second spot on the podium was the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP driven by Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. After qualifying second, the pair of drivers clearly had one of the strongest cars in the field and was able to bring home their second consecutive podium and their fourth of the year.
“Congratulations to the Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook as well as the entire No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP team on their win today at Laguna Seca to become the only team to win three races this season.” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Program Manger, GRAND-AM Road Racing. “The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP drivers, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney had a great run today as well, and brought home a second-place finish to give Chevrolet Corvette DP the top-two podium positions. Both teams were strong off the trailer on Friday, and were able to carry that momentum through to the checkered flag. It will be an exciting weekend for us at the season finale coming up at Lime Rock Park in two weeks.”
Making Chevrolet a double winner at Laguna Seca were Matt Bell and John Edwards behind the wheel of the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R The pair captured their first win of the season on Saturday in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) race. The victory was the second consecutive win for the Camaro GS.R.
The race was slowed numerous times by cautions, but the Stevenson duo battled from the eighth starting position, and combined to lead a total of nine of the 71-lap/2.5-hour race. Edwards took the lead for the final four circuits of the event.
Lutz concluded by saying: “Congratulations as well to Stevenson Motorsports drivers Matt Bell and John Edwards on their exciting win on Saturday in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race as they took the No. 9 Camaro GS.R to victory lane for the first time this season. That is back-to-back race wins for the Camaro GS.R, and we are very proud of the performance of our teams in CTSCC.”
In the Rolex Grand Touring (GT) class, it was a challenging day. The No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette driven by Boris Said and Eric Curran finished seventh in-class. And Robin Liddell and John Edwards rallied from starting last in the field to bring the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R to the finish line eighth in-class.
Other Chevrolet Rolex finishers were: No.9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – 5th; No. 10 SunTrust Racing Toshiba Corvette DP – 7th and No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – 9th. In CTSCC, Chevrolet finishers were: No. 00 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R – 7th; No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro GS.R – 17th in-class; No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R – 18th in class and No. 62 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro GS.R – 24th in-class.
GRAND-AM moves next to Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Connecticut for the season finale in both Rolex and CTSCC on September 28-29, 2012.
CHEVROLET DRIVER QUOTES:
GARCIA: WERE YOU AWARE HOW CLOSE YOU WERE ON FUEL? “Nope. Basically since I came in for fuel, I thought I was safe to go to the end. Basically we risked a little bit more than that. At least we got it back on the in-lap. It doesn’t really make any difference at some point. As soon as I knew I was coming in, when I came out, I knew I had to push us. I knew the 99 was doing his own race in front of me. That was the main thing. Me against him. We were about a half-of-a-lap apart. I got held a little bit in traffic, but for the most part, I was managing the speed and the traffic pretty good. So we were able to go ahead of them. Very nice
“Richard did an excellent job in his two stints. So half of the job was done by him already. So, brilliant!”
WESTBROOK: HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE THAT EARLY-RACE TRACK POSITION? “We did. We were going into the unknown. Everyone was. We didn’t know how the tires were going to hold up running under green for so long. Our car was excellent. We kept the track position. We filtered down the order when everyone short-filled. We really just had to keep our head, and wait for everyone else to pit. It could have gone the 99’s way if they had gotten the yellow. We thought about staying out and taking the risk. I am just delighted. I think it was a really good advertisement for DP racing this weekend, which is really important with the merger going on. I just want to thank everyone at Spirit of Daytona.”
WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THE LAST THREE RACES THAT SPEED WASN’T THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR TEAM, BUT I KNOW IT WAS VERY FRUSTRATING. WAS THERE A TIME WHEN YOU STARTED TO DOUBT AS A TEAM THAT MAYBE IT WAS GOING TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO GET BACK TO VICTORY LANE? “No, you never think that. It is really important that you stay professional, and keep your head up. When you fly back home, just to really try and forget about the last race and try to look forward to the next race. It did become difficult particularly after Montreal. But we came here nice and fresh. Got here nice and early. Got rid of the jet lag, and had a few rounds of gold. I am so relieved to have a trouble-free weekend.
GURNEY: “We hard fought for this finish. We came back from a penalty, and a problem in the pits. We definitely had a very quick car. At the end there, the guys had a strategy to see if actually we could get a yellow in the last few laps, didn’t happen. But even with that, we thought there was a chance we could get out ahead of the No. 90 after the last stop. But, I got caught up into the GT field and had four pretty slow laps there and that did it.”
BELL: “Our crew chief Mike Johnson actually called it about halfway through the race. He just started laughing hysterically turned to us and said, ‘We’re going to win it.’ We were in 12th-place with a bumper falling off and already had one face lift done. Our engineers really put it together.”
EDWARDS: “I don’t think I’ve ever crashed so many times and won the race. I wasn’t too optimistic about getting a podium even halfway through the race. Slowly everyone started making mistakes and we found ourselves in the lead.”