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New Sites and Sounds as Grand Am Puts on a Wet Show at Brickyard
July 27th 2012 - by Paul Gohde - July 27, 2012 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Speedway, Indiana

Rolex GRAND-AM Brickyard Grand Prix:
Looking more like a NASCAR short track race at times, Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Popow overcame nine caution periods and two rain storms to lead a resurgent Starworks Motorsports team to victory in Saturday’s inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix for GRAND-AM Rolex Sports cars.

With the rain slowing the three-hour enduro on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.534 mi road course, Popow led seven mid-race laps, but it was Bourdais who took charge of the final 17 circuits after a pit stop for fuel only, gave him the lead over teammate Ryan Dalziel.

Bourdais then pulled away from the pack of Daytona Prototypes in his Soloson Ford/Riley and endured three full-course caution periods in the final seventeen laps before securing the race win; finishing under yellow.

Two of the caution periods were caused when NASCAR driver and former Formula 1 and Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya had contact with Joao Barbosa (lap 74) while battling for second-place, and Ryan Dalziel (lap 84) while dueling with Bourdais’ Starworks teammate Dalziel for third. The contact put a furious Dalziel into the gravel trap, ending his day, while Montoya recovered to finish fourth.

Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett, a four-time Indianapolis 500 starter, took third in his BMW Riley DP during the melee, and passed Ricky Taylor’s Sun Trust Corvette DP for second when Taylor drifted wide while trying to wrest the lead from Bourdais with four laps remaining.

Starworks Motorsports owner Peter Baron complained to series officials about Montoya’s rough driving both before and after the race. “The series needs to do something about that”, Baron admonished in a post-race interview. No penalties were assessed to Montoya after the race.

A crowd estimated at 15,000 watched the Bourdais/ Popow combo average 78.827 mph in a race slowed nine times by caution flags. The win also gave Starworks the North American Endurance Championship for DP cars.

Bourdais, himself a two-time Indy 500 starter, was praised by his teammate Popow: It’s so special winning. We had the best car and best driver out there today.”

Magnus Racing’s No. 44 Porsche, with Andy Lally and John Potter sharing driving chores, captured the GT class victory. The win also gave the team the NAEC GT crown.

CONTINENTAL Tire Sports Car Challenge:
Driving a Camaro GS-R for CKS Autosports, Eric Curran and Lawson Aschenbach endured a 25-minute delay for rain, and two late-race restarts to snatch the over-all win in the inaugural Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday.

The duo lead the 2.5-hour event twice from the second–starting spot with Aschenbach controlling the first fifteen circuits around the 2.534 mi road course and co-driver Curran the final ten in their #01 Camaro.
As the field began changing to rain tires, the caution flag flew on lap 41 due to moisture on the track, and on lap 43 a red flag came out as flooding occurred on several portions of the circuit.

When the green flag resumed action on lap 51, only 38 minutes remained in the event and Curran emerged as the front-runner with rooster-tails flying, making visibility difficult. The team survived the final two cautions to secure the win as the yellow flag ended the timed event. The win was Curran’s 14th in the series and Aschenbach’s sixth.

“I came in right before it started raining. It got worse after I got out of the car, but even with little drops it doesn’t take much to get the track slick,” said Aschenbach.

I got out with just about an hour left and that’s when Eric got in and it started pouring. So he had the tough job. The minute they red-flagged the race and we saw the sun coming out, we said as long as it doesn’t rain (any more) we’ll be fine.”

The Mitchum Motorsports Camaro of Jeff Bucknum and George Richardson trailed by 0.622 sec at the line, as the winners averaged a rain-slowed 59.543 mph.

Seth Thomas and Daniel Rogers captured the Street Tuner class co-driving their BMW 328i.