Taylor pair seeks Lime Rock repeat, and DP title, this weekend

Leave a comment

The GRAND-AM Rolex Series signs off as a series this weekend before the merged Tudor United SportsCar Championship premieres in 2014.

This marks the last race for the foreseeable future where it will just be Daytona Prototypes in the top class, before the fusion of DPs and P2s and the DeltaWing from the American Le Mans Series in 2014.

Here’s a look at the protagonists for this year’s DP championship battle:

THE CONTENDERS

  • It’s Wayne Taylor Racing’s to lose. Jordan Taylor is only 22 but drove with the will, resolve and determination of a champion the last two races at Kansas and Monterey, leading the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba Corvette DP to back-to-back wins. He and Max Angelelli enter with an eight-point lead, and Angelelli is the defending race winner at Lime Rock with Taylor’s older brother Ricky. Prohibitive favorites if they stay out of trouble and within range of their rivals.
  • For Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, it’s the “drive for five.” The pair of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have won the last three consecutive, and four of the last five, Rolex DP titles in the No. 01 Riley BMW. They’re second and eight points back. A win (35 points) and fifth (26 points) or worse for the No. 10 Corvette nets them yet another crown.

THE SPOILERS

  • GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing could secure its third DP title with a bit of bad luck affecting the two cars in front of them. Despite only one podium finish in the last seven races, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney have stayed close to the title lead and enter Lime Rock 11 points back. They need their second win in the No. 99 GAINSCO “Red Dragon” and for both of the two in front of them to finish seventh or worse.
  • Action Express’ No. 5 Corvette DP has one of its two drivers who could win the title, Christian Fittipaldi, but not co-driver Joao Barbosa. The pair were split earlier this year and Fittipaldi has two more points. He needs a win and the other three ahead to finish 10th or worse to pull off the crown.
  • Starworks Motorsport is still mathematically eligible but at 20 points back, the No. 2 Riley BMW pair of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel would need to hope for early-race chaos that eliminates all cars ahead of them before completing 30 minutes, the minimum time needed to score points.
DP POINTS 
1. Jordan Taylor/Max Angelelli, 304
2. Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, 296
3. Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty, 293
4. Christian Fittipaldi, 291
5. Joao Barbosa, 289
6. Ryan Dalziel/Alex Popow, 284

Josef Newgarden dominates from pole to win KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America

Leave a comment

There’s a reason why Josef Newgarden calls Road America his favorite racetrack – and he showed why Sunday, dominating to victory in the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

Newgarden led all but two laps from the pole and was in a class of his own throughout the 55-lap caution-free race on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course in central Wisconsin, defeating runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay by 3.3759 seconds.

“(I wanted this one) really bad,” Newgarden told NBCSN in victory lane. “I wanted to win here since last year. This car has been a rocket all weekend. It wasn’t easy. Ryan was very quick and I knew Dixon was right behind him, so we were working for it the entire race.

“I kind of knew what I had to do, but it was a lot of work. Ryan was really pushing me. It’s good to get a win. It doesn’t matter what car, as long as it’s Team Penske.”

It was Newgarden’s series-leading third win of the season in the first 10 races (also won at ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama), pushing him past Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Will Power and Scott Dixon, who both have two wins in the 2018 campaign.

“I was hoping to make it more interesting for the fans here at Road American and on TV,” Hunter-Reay said. “The last two stints, when he put on used red and I had blacks, he was really hooked up. … I was pushing 110 percent, that’s for sure.

“Unfortunately, I just couldn’t catch up to Josef. I was able to close up the gap a little bit here and there, but not like I was early in the race. He found his own way for sure. Definitely, the clean air out front helps, but hats off to him: he had a great race and deserves the win.”

Dixon finished third, followed by Takuma Sato, Robert Wickens, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Spencer Pigot (his best finish of the season), Ed Jones and James Hinchcliffe.

Dixon (393 points) maintains the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead, Hunter-Reay (348) moved up two spots to second place, Alexander Rossi (tied with Hunter-Reay for second at 348) dropped one spot to third, Newgarden (343) climbed one spot to fourth and Will Power (328) dropped two spots to fifth in the standings.

“It’s so tight … so tough,” Dixon said. “The Verizon IndyCar Series, right now, the competition is through the roof. To get a podium these days is tough enough, yet to get a win. But we’ll keep pushing and see what we get.”

There was action right from the opening lap, including misfortune for Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, who suffered engine issues that sent him to the pits after the opening lap.

After trying to work on his car in the pits, Power’s team pushed it back to the paddock to attempt further repairs, but those efforts failed and the car was retired.

Power was third in the IndyCar points standings coming into the race, 36 points behind series leader Scott Dixon. He finished last (23rd) in Sunday’s race and will likely drop to fifth in the standings.

“They replaced the exhaust, and it just blew straight back out,” Power told NBCSN’s Marty Snider. “So, there’s obviously something going on in there that’s gone wrong.

“I feel bad for all the guys. It’s just one of those things, you know – you’ll get that every now and then at some point. No good, but we’ll move on to the next one.”

Also, 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi had an issue with what appeared to be brakes- or suspension-related that resulted in a lengthy pit stop after 38 laps. Rossi finished 16th in the 23-car field.

“Hugely disappointing,” Rossi told NBCSN. “It was good enough for fourth … but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski