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HOOSIER MAKES INAUGURAL APPEARANCE
AT CROWN ROYAL GRAND AMERICAN CHALLENGE OF LONG BEACH

By Paula Nate
4-11-06
Scott Pruett & Luis Diaz (Photo courtesy of www.grandamerican.com)LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2006) Carrying the momentum of three successful events to open the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season, the Daytona Prototype class ran its first-ever street race in Saturday's Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach, part of the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

This is the first Daytona Prototype street race; there are a host of drivers in the field with experience and race victories on the streets of Long Beach. No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley driver Scott Pruett and No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley driver Adrian Fernandez are the Rolex Series drivers with the most experience, having each driven in 11 previous races at the famed seaside circuit.

The two-day schedule saw the Daytona Prototypes turn their first laps ever on the 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit for a 45-minute practice session beginning at 8:00 a.m. PT on Friday, April 7. Friday's schedule concluded with an hour-long qualifying session from 3:55 to 4:55 p.m. PT.

Saturday's schedule had a 20-minute warm-up session beginning at 8:00 a.m. PT, and the green flag dropped on the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach at 4:00 p.m. PT Saturday afternoon.

The format for Saturday's race differed somewhat from the normal in the Rolex Series. It is just the second stand-alone Daytona Prototype race in class history, and will be a 90-minute timed event. Teams were required to make a pit stop and driver change.

In front of a huge and enthusiastic crowd, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz claimed victory.

Luis Diaz handed the car over to Scott Pruett in the pit stop, and the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion managed to win the race off pit road. Pruett led the field to the green flag on the Lap 23 restart and held off Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 23 machine by 3.989 seconds to claim the second victory of the season for himself and Diaz.

"It's awesome to be here in Long Beach and in Victory Lane," Pruett said. "It's always fun and it's always exciting that's for sure. The No. 23 car kept us on our toes, but this win was all teamwork. Lexus gave us a great motor with increased drivability, Hoosier gave us great tires. And for the first time coming here to Long Beach, I think Grand American put on a pretty great show."

Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long who led a total of six laps, earned their third podium result in as many tries this season with their second-place performance in the No. 23 machine for Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports.

Shane Lewis and Bill Auberlen combined to finish third in the No. 3 Southard Motorsports BMW Riley.

Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger matched their best performance of the season to date with a fourth-place run in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford to make it four different engine manufacturers in the top four.

Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. completed the top five in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley with a fifth-place run for Michael Shank Racing.

Hoosier Racing Tire is proud to be the sole tire supplier for the Grand American / Rolex Road Racing Series.

For more information about Grand American Road Racing, the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association is, www.grandamerican.com.

      

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