GRAND-AM News And Notes: Barber Motorsports Park

Fast Facts

GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series
The Race: Porsche 250

The Place: Barber Motorsports Park
The Date/Time: Saturday, 1:45 p.m. ET

TV: SPEED – Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, 1:30 p.m. ET (local affiliate WYDE 1260 AM)

Race Length: 2 hours

GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge

The Race: Barber 200

The Place: Barber Motorsports Park
The Date/Time: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET

TV: SPEED – April 13, 2 p.m. ET

Race Length: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Corvette DP, Spirit of Daytona Return To Site Of First Win

Barber Motorsports Park was a breakthrough track for both the Corvette DP and Spirit of Daytona Racing in 2012. One year after earning their first wins at the 2.3-mile road course, both are considered favorites again for Saturday’s Porsche 250.
The Corvette DP – the first manufacturer-specific Daytona Prototype – had major fanfare for its reception on the eve of last year’s season. While the best finish for the new car was fifth in its debut race five months earlier, Corvette DPs swept the top two positions at Barber Motorsports Park – the first of eight victories en route to Chevrolet capturing the DP engine manufacturer title.
Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia gave Spirit of Daytona its first DP victory – and first of three in 2012. Westbrook won his first DP pole position – one year after Garcia gave the team its first DP pole, also at Barber.
“Spirit of Daytona has a magic sauce here, based off what they’ve done here the last few years,” said Alex Gurney, a two-time Porsche 250 winner who joined Jon Fogarty in finishing second, 2.326 seconds behind the winners. “We tried real hard to find their secret, but we’re only about halfway there.”
Westbrook has a new teammate in 2013, with Ricky Taylor now co-driving the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com/Go-Pro Corvette DP. Taylor is the DP track record holder, with his pole-winning lap of 1:19.624 (103.989 mph) from 2010.
“We always seem to have a great car at Barber so we’re all eager to get going this weekend,” said Spirit of Daytona team owner Troy Flis. “We are hoping to consistently be in the hunt for all the races. We just want to get some momentum going in the points and hopefully we can kind of kick start that this weekend.”

GAINSCO Racing Ends Dry Spell At COTA, Second In DP Points

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty ended a dry spell dating back to August, 2011 by winning the most recent Rolex Series race at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Now, the drivers of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP return to a track where they have enjoyed plenty of success.
The GAINSCO team had a breakthrough outing at Barber Motorsports Park in 2005, when Gurney – then co-driving with team owner Bob Stallings – captured his first DP pole in only his third GRAND-AM race. Gurney and Fogarty won at Barber in 2007 and 2009, and went on to capture the DP championship both times.
Currently the longest-running driver pairing in the Rolex Series, Gurney and Fogarty have been driving together for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing since mid-2006 – sharing the No. 99 DP for 89 of the team’s 102 races. They have co-driven to 16 DP victories. Fogarty also was fastest qualifier for the Austin event, extending his series record to 24 pole positions.
“Barber is a very unique track where finding the right car setup for its undulating hills and drop-offs is always tricky,” Gurney said. “We feel we’ve got a big book of knowledge built up over all our races there and we think we should be very strong.”
The team GAINSCO is chasing in the points — TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates — is no stranger to success at Barber either. Co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have won more races at Barber (three) than any other team and are coming off a win and third-place finish in the first two events of the 2013 season.
The two-hour race on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile Barber circuit will begin at 1:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. The event will be televised on SPEED on Sunday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Pruett, Rojas Rally For Podium Finish In Texas, Lead In Quest For Fourth Straight Title

Capturing a major championship typically involves winning races and scoring consistent finishes in addition to having a bit of good luck thrown into the mix. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have experienced all three already this season in their bid for a fourth consecutive Daytona Prototype title.
The drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley opened the year with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Then it was on to Austin, Texas, where Rojas opened the race with a solid double stint, leading a race-high 33 laps. Shortly after Pruett took over, he had contact with Max Angelelli’s No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP, shearing off the front nose. While Pruett fell to 10th, he got a little luck with a caution flag as he was preparing to pit. Able to stay in contention, Pruett battled back to finish third.
After two of 12 races, Pruett and Rojas now lead the championship by six points (65-59) over Austin winners Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.
Pruett and Rojas teamed to win the 2008 DP title. After finishing second in 2009, the drivers of the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley won the next three titles. Pruett leads the series with 40 victories, followed by Rojas with 26.
The duo has three victories at Barber Motorsports Park, including consecutive wins in 2010 and 2011.

Negri To Miss Next Two Events For Michael Shank Racing, Valiante To Team With Pew

Michael Shank Racing announced last week that Ozz Negri will miss the next two rounds of GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition as he continues his recovery from a leg injury. In his place Michael Valiante who raced with the team in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona will co-drive with John Pew.

Valiante has experience driving with both Michael Shank Racing and Pew, co-driving with Pew in the full 2009 season.
“We are lucky to have Michael available to step in, and a huge thanks to John for being flexible with the situation,” said team owner Mike Shank. “The good thing is that John and Michael have so much experience working together, so we are fortunate to have a good solution to a really tough situation.”
Valiante has earned victories in both the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and has competed in at least one event every year since 2005. One year ago, he pulled off an impressive double victory at Mid-Ohio, winning the Rolex Series race for Spirit of Daytona and CTSCC race for HART on the same day.
Since participating in the first-ever Daytona Prototype race in 2003, Negri has made 113 Rolex Series starts winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Michael Shank Racing in 2012.
“This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with — just the idea of not being able to be in the car is so tough,” said Negri. I’m eager to get going already, and will be working hard to be back and better than ever in Detroit.”

Westphal Joins Scuderia Corsa Lineup For Rest Of Season

Jeff Westphal will join Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 for the remainder of the season, beginning this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. Westphal has made a handful of starts in both the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with a career-best finish of fourth coming at Miller Motorsports Park in 2009.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to drive the No. 63 after working with Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari for over a year,” Westphal said. “The remaining races encompass quite the challenge with world-class facilities, events and tracks that I cannot wait to see again from behind the wheel.”

Rolex Series, Etc

* Hartley’s Heartbreak: Brendon Hartley broke onto the Rolex Series scene at Circuit of The Americas driving the No. 8 Starworks Ford/Riley from one lap down to the lead before contact with a GT car in the final 20 minutes took him out of the race. The Formula One simulator driver for Mercedes AMG returns this weekend with Starworks and co-driver Scott Mayer.

* Von Moltke Teams With Muehlner: Dion von Moltke will team with Eduardo Costabal this weekend in the No. 18 Porsche for Muehlner Motorsports. Von Moltke is second in GT points.

Play Ball: CJ Wilson Racing Breaks Through For First Victory

The Major League Baseball season may have started this week, but for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher and avid racing enthusiast CJ Wilson, his first “regular season” win of the year came during Spring Training.
Wilson — who owns a pair of Mazda MX-5s in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge — enjoyed his most successful weekend as a CTSCC team owner at Circuit of The Americas in March while the All-Star pitcher was busy preparing for the 2013 baseball season. A dominant two-car effort gave CJ Wilson Racing both its first series pole and victory as the Texas-based team won in its home event.
Chad McCumbee,who is recognized for his role as Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the movie 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story gave the team its first pole in the No. 3 Mazda MX-5 while the No. 5 Mazda MX-5, driven by Stevan McAleer and Marc Millerwent on to win the race.
This weekend CJ Wilson Racing hopes to make it two-in-a-row at Barber Motorsports Park where the team nearly pulled off an upset victory on a pitstop gamble with severe weather approaching. McCumbee and co-driver Jason Saini finished fourth in that event one year ago.

APR Motorsport Has One Goal: Pick Up Win In Home Event

The APR Motorsport team will be bringing more than a pair of Volkswagen Jettas on the 100-mile haul from its shop in Opelika up Route 280 to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.
Alabama’s lone GRAND-AM team will also bring along several hundred guests for its home race.
Ian Baas and Mikey Taylor will share the No. 171 APR Tuned/Mutul/Rays Wheels Volkswagen Jetta, with Aleks Altberg and Chris Lock in the No. 181 Jetta.
The racing arm of APR, LLC – which specializes in providing high-quality and highly engineered aftermarket performance products for Porsche, Audi and VW vehicles – the team has been competing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge since 2008.
The team also ran a full season with the new Audi in the Rolex Series GT class in 2012, finishing second in the season finale at Lime Rock Park. Partnering with Audi Sport Customer Racing, APR finished second in GT in the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona, with Baas, Frank Stippler, Marc Basseng and Rene Rast co-driving the No. 52 Audi.

CTSCC, Etc.

* Rum Bum Racing, BGB Motorsports Renew GS Rivalry: Rum Bum Racing and BGB Motorsports spent much of the 2012 season going head-to-head for the GS championship. While Rum Bum Racing won five of 10 races, consistency kept BGB in the title hunt. When all was said and done Rum Bum won the team championship while BGB drivers David Empringham and John Farano won the driver championship. Two races into the 2013 season the two title contenders are picking up right where they left off with Rum Bum holding a six-point lead over the No. 38 BGB Porsche. Both teams ran well at Barber one year ago with Rum Bum drivers Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi winning the race and BGB finishing fourth.

* Norman Enjoying Dream Season: Dr. Jim Norman has been as hot as any driver over the first two races of the season. In addition to two Rolex Series GX class wins, he finished second in GS at Circuit of The Americas and sits second in GS points.

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