Starworks Wins Brickyard Grand Prix
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on July 27, 2012 | 7:25 P.M. EST
Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Popow kiss the bricks at Indy. (Photo: Brian Cleary)
INDIANAPOLIS - Starworks Motorsport made history by becoming the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix.
Sebastien Bourdais drove the winning No. 2 Ford/Riley across the finish line to score the victory and in the process clinch the North American Endurance Championship. Along with the win, the team’s performance in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and the six-hour race at Watkins Glen International earned them a $100,000 bonus.
Bourdais and teammate Alex Popow survived a wild day of racing as the sports car series made its debut at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It was a pretty special day, said Bourdais, who led the final 17 laps. "I felt strong in the car. I ran a good lap in the test and thought we had a good chance. It was win No. 1 for me this season. I’ve been winning a race ever year for many, many years, and I was starting to get worried. It’s great to put it together.”
The win added to Starworks storybook season, which has included second-place finishes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in addition to class titles in the endurance classic at Le Mans and Sebring.
Andy Lally and John Potter were victorious in the GT Class for the Magnus Racing team. They also took home a $50,000 bonus for the team with the GT win in the endurance championship.
"Gosh, we won Daytona and Indy in the same year," Lally said. "This is just amazing."
The win was also gratifying for the team after they worked hard on the car after it burnt down to the ground at Watkins Glen.
"These guys came through and they worked so many 23 hour days, just took a nap and were back at the shop to re-tough this thing and get it ready for Indy," Lally said.
The race was held in a mixture of sunshine and at times heavy rain around the unique road course that includes the Brickyard’s front stretch.
But the closing laps also featured some rough and tumble action with several on tracks incidents and contact between a number of drivers.
One of the most celebrated tangles involved another Starworks driver Ryan Dalziel and Ganassi Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya, who were third and fourth with less than 15 minutes remaining in the three hour race.
The impact from Montoya sent Dalziel, who came into the weekend in the middle of a tight championship battle with the No. 01 of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, spinning and infuriating team owner Peter Baron.
“That's like the lowest class thing we have ever seen," Baron said. "He recklessly goes off and cuts across the grass and takes us out. We are three points behind the 01 in the championship and at that point we were virtually leading the championship. The series has to do something to make this right."
Montoya gave his side after climbing out of the No. 02 BMW/Riley.
"You know they think that because you are there and they turn that you have to get out of the way and you don't," Montoya said. "The 8 car was saving a lot of fuel and every time I got into the straight I got a really good run. Twice, I was right beside him and I felt I wasn't far enough ahead that I didn't even bother turning beside him. The one time I was there he just pushed me through the dirt and I'm still there so you can't turn because I'm still there. You either take it as a man or you don't."
Pruett and Rojas finished second in a damaged racecar to increase their points lead to 11. The major damage to the No. 01 came when Rojas tried to thread the needle and pass the No. 75 GT car of Ronnie Bremer on the outside and wound up making heavy contact with the Chevrolet Camaro.
"I think most everything took place," Pruett said. "It rained, we had a tore-up race car, but we managed to scratch back and finish second."
Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor finished third.
Dalziel led the most laps, with 33, but finished seventh in the end with teammate Enzo Potolicchio.
Alex Gurney and pole winner Jon Fogarty had a disappointing 10th-place finish on a day that saw a number of issues and a pair of penalties GRAND-AM assessed to the No. 99 team in the race’s second hour.
"During the race a variety of things did not go well,” team owner Bob Stallings said. “Some were self-inflicted wounds that prevented our drivers from getting the most out of what was very good car, but in addition to that there were some highly questionable officiating calls which contributed to our problems for the day. The team, car and drivers could have overcome these hurdles but we simply concluded, taking everything into consideration, we would be better off retiring the car and preparing ourselves for the final four races of the year."
Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito finished second in GT with Andrew Davis and Leh Keen in third.
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series now travels to Watkins Glen International Raceway on Saturday, August 11.