Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

July 27, 2012

Racing shines through soggy day at IMS

By Justin Whitaker

SPEEDWAY — After a summer of rain that was missing in action, Mother Nature decided to remind drivers and fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of her ugly side Friday.

Spotty showers interrupted both GRAND-AM races on the first day of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard, bringing out cautions and affecting racing conditions consistently throughout the day.

The No. 2 Soloson Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley team of Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Popow won the overall race and Daytona Prototype class of the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Race under the ninth caution of the race. Winning the Grand Touring class was the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup team of Andy Lally and John Potter.

Bourdais, the four-time Champ Car World Series champion, and current driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series, led the final 17 laps of the three-hour race and notched his first victory at Indianapolis and of the season.

“It’s great to put it together midseason,” Bourdais said. “It’s just a cool bunch of guys, they are really fun to be around and it’s always unpredictable and never boring or a lack of fun.”

The prestige of winning at Indy was not lost on Popow, a native of Venezuela.

“It’s amazing being here sitting where I am right now, first place in the Brickyard is certainly is a dream come true,” Popow said.

The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, Lally, has had experience winning in sports cars as a three-time Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona but this was his first victory since returning to the series.

“Just amazing, we just won Indy,” Lally said. “I’ve said it 60 times since we’ve taken the checkered flag, it was such a hard fought battle all day long with these guys.”

Potter drove the car through the rain when racing conditions during and after the downpour were tricky for the drivers to navigate.

“On the first start with the rain, there is just no visibility with the rain and you can’t even see the flag actually,” he said. “It’s just about surviving.”

Placing second in the Daytona Prototype class was the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Finishing third was the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Riley team of Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor.

2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Juan Pablo Montoya helped steer the No. 02 Chevron Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley Daytona Prototype car to a fourth-place finish with teammate and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon.

2010 Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray was scheduled to run as a member of the No. 02 team but after the rain left the 2.534-mile, 13-turn track saturated, his lack of wet racing experience left Montoya in the car.

The pole-sitting team of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney led 13 laps early but had problems and went behind the wall after 52 laps, eventually finishing 27th.

For the GT class, the No. 70 Mazda SpeedSource team of Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito placed second and the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3 Cup pair of Leh Keen and Andrew Davis came in third place.

In the opening race at IMS, the inaugural Brickyard Sports Car Challenge GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Race that was scheduled for two and half hours went 59 laps and endured a heavy rainfall and 25-minute red flag because of the wet racing conditions. 

Driver of the No. 01 CKS Autosport Chevrolet Camero Eric Curran withstood two late restarts in the final 20 minutes to take home the checkered flag with his teammate Lawson Aschenbach in the Grand Sport Class.

“This is amazing,” Curran said. “Hats off to GRAND-AM and everybody who put this event together. It’s great to be here, could not be more excited.”

Aschenbach met his teammate just past the start finish line and climbed the fence to celebrate their victory.

“I don’t think it sunk in until we crossed that checkered flag right at the end of the race here and kissing those bricks,” said Aschenbach, who led 15 of the No. 01’s 25 laps led. “An awful lot of history, all of the races and winners and everything happens here really does mean something.”

Taking the Street Tuner victory was the No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing team of Daniel Rogers and Seth Thomas in their BMW 328i, the first career victory together in the series.

“We are really happy. Both of us are happy to get our first win together at Indy which is huge but for me I’m over the moon,” Rogers said. “I mean, how can you beat your first professional win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? That’s just incredible.”