Tight Race Heads To The Glen
By: John Singler on June 28, 2013 | 9:34 A.M. EST
The Starworks Motorsport team of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow, third in points, hopes to climb closer to the top in Sunday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. (Photo: Brian Cleary)
With the second half of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series about to begin, a fierce points battle is raging with perennial champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas on the outside looking in.
Six drivers and three teams are separated by just two points heading into Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, led by the Wayne Taylor Racing duo of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor.
Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney share second place, a single point behind, with Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow third just two points off the pace. Pruett and Rojas are presently mired in seventh place, 25 points out with six races remaining in their bid for a fourth straight Daytona Prototype crown.
But Dalziel, who drives the No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley, isn’t ready to write Pruett and Rojas out of the championship script just yet.
"They are a great team," he said of the Chip Ganassi Racing tandem. "For many years, we’ve looked up to Ganassi as the benchmark. I don’t think anybody should ever rule them out. They have massive amounts of resources and experience, and to rule them out at this point in the season would be silly."
With three straight top-five finishes, the Dalziel-Popow team should clearly be ruled "in" the championship picture as it approaches this weekend at Watkins Glen International.
"The Glen has been very kind to us and to Starworks," said Dalziel, who teamed with Lucas Luhr to win the series’ most recent visit to the 3.4-mile natural road course in August 2012. Another Starworks entry followed them to the checkered flag that day, giving the team a one-two sweep. "It seems like we always have good cars there, whether it’s the Six Hours or the two-hour race."
There is just one trip to Upstate New York on this year’s schedule, Sunday’s six-hour grind that represents Round 2 of this year’s North American Endurance Championship.
"Our cars were very strong," Dalziel said of last summer’s Starworks sweep. "We’ve done a lot of work since then and I feel that we’re much stronger in our race package than we were 12 months ago."
For Sunday’s Six Hours of The Glen, the No. 2 Soloson-sponsored car has added Sebastien Bourdais to its driver rotation. It was Popow and Bourdais who teamed up to bring the second Starworks entry home in second place behind Dalziel and Luhr in last year’s August race.
"I learned a lot from him then," Popow said of Bourdais. "He and Ryan (Dalziel) were the ones who closed that race and so now, I think this is a good combination and one of the best teams out there."
There are 14 cars on the DP entry list for Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours including a second Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley for co-drivers Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer. Points leaders Angelelli and Taylor are looking for more consistency after finishes of first-sixth-first-sixth over their last four races.
"We need to come out with maximum points this weekend," Angelelli said. "This race is more forgiving because it’s six hours long. Our team is so good at pit stops, we have more opportunities in this race where we can gain track position.
"Our championship is so competitive that every single thing from the green flag to the checkered flag is extremely important. Any little glitch can change your final result."
And while the fortunes of Wayne Taylor Racing and Starworks Motorsport have been on the rise as the first half of the season ended, the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team of Fogarty and Gurney, along with Pruett and Rojas, are hoping to get their seasons back on track as the second half begins. Both team are looking for their first podium finish since the Road Atlanta round April 20.
GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams will open practice at Watkins Glen International on Friday afternoon with qualifying Saturday at 11:05 a.m. (ET). Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday beginning at 10:45 a.m., with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.