GRAND AM NEWS: GT At Daytona II; TRG Tri-fecta?

Photo by John Rawley Like Gurney and Fogarty, Andy Lally and RJ Valentine in the No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3 have been stellar in recent races. Lally has weaved through the field after taking over for Valentine, and responded by leading the most laps in the last two races. The pair finished 17th in GT in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, but have been top-10 performers in the following seven races. They have jumped to fourth in only three races.

But as hot as Lally and Valentine have been in the Porsche, they still need seven points to take the championship lead in Grand-Am’s tightest championship battle. A three-way tie atop the standings has German rookie Dirk Werner and teammates Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards with 223 points apiece, and all three know how important round nine of 13 can be in their championship hunts.

Werner’s Rolex 24 At Daytona wasn’t spectacular, as he drove the No. 85 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3 with Leh Keen, Pierre Ehret and Jorg Hardt to a 14th-place finish in GT. But in the next six races in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Marquis Jet/IPC Porsche GT3, Werner and co-driver Bryce Miller combined to finish no worse than fourth, with five straight podiums. Their 12th-place finish at Mid-Ohio dropped Werner into his three-way tie, and Miller from fourth to seventh in the standings.

Collins and Edwards have posted top-10 finishes in all eight races they have piloted the No. 07 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, yet are still looking for their first GT victory. A second-place GT finish in the Rolex 24 and back-to-back third-place results should make them pre-race favorites and help push Pontiac toward its second victory of the season. The pair’s teammates, Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. in the No. 06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R, won the Memorial Day weekend Grand-Am GT Classic at Lime Rock Park and are tied for 10th in points.

Former series points leaders Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8 are coming off their best finish in three races after challenging for the victory at Mid-Ohio. Tremblay brought the car home second, the duo’s fourth podium this season, and moved into sixth in points, 10 out of the lead. Ham, in contrast, is now eighth, 19 in arrears of the lead. Tremblay’s and Ham’s teammates Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi, who shared seventh in the Rolex 24, look to regroup after finishing 19th at Mid-Ohio in the No. 69 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8.

The strong efforts of No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/ Porsche GT3 drivers Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Carlos de Quesada in the EMCO Gears Classic should give them momentum heading into Daytona. The pair, currently tied for ninth in the standings, won the GT class in the Rolex 24, and ran second at Mid-Ohio in the second half of the EMCO Gears Classic before slipping to 11th.

Aside from the No. 66 Porsche GT3, TRG will field the No. 64 Jlowe Racing/SRS Porsche GT3 for Jim Lowe and Jim Pace and the No. 67 500 Fast Cash Porsche GT3 for Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski. Farnbacher Loles Motorsports will have Dominik Farnbacher in its No. 85 Shoes for Crews/Recaro Porsche GT3, while a co-driver is expected to be named after Keen was involved in a practice accident at Mid-Ohio. He is sidelined with a broken collarbone.

Several other multiple-car teams are entered for this weekend. The three-car Team Sahlen stable will have its No. 41 Pontiac GTO (Joe Sahlen and Joe Nonnamaker) and No. 42 (Sahlen and Will Nonnamaker) and No. 43 (Joe Nonnamaker and Wayne Nonnamaker) Corvettes at Daytona, while Tafel Racing brings its No. 72 Tornos/Dunkel Bros. Porsche GT3 (Spencer Pumpelly and Nathan Swartzbaugh) and No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 (Eric Lux and Wolf Henzler).

Blackforest Motorsports returns to its home state with the No. 15 USG Sheetrock/Guardian Insultation Ford Mustang GT and drivers Tom Nastasi and Terry Bocheller. Others cars expected include the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Mac Papers/Mac Business Products Porsche GT3 with Cory Friedman and Mac McGehee; No. 17 Doncaster Racing Minestar/Tim Hortons Porsche GT3 with drivers Greg Wilkins and Dave Lacey; No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO with drivers Matt Connolly and Hal Prewitt; No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R with drivers Drew Staveley and Mark Pavan; No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Stevenson Automotive Corvette with Marc Bunting and Dominic Cicero II; and the No. 81 Synergy Racing EMC Mechanical/Gamewell Mechanical Porsche GT3 with Steve Johnson listed as the lead driver.

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