June 03, 2013 | By Matt Cleary
Sprint To Bricks Starts With Tight Action In Detroit GRAND-AM Races
With an unforgettable and record-setting Indianapolis 500, the month of May raced into history. But with an intense schedule of races that build up to the Brickyard Grand Prix on Friday, July 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, June and July could feel even faster for GRAND-AM teams.
That “Sprint to the Bricks” opened this weekend as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series made a second visit to the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit for the Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 this weekend, and the two-hour sprint race opened with a bang.
With the zero-tolerance policy usually on offer from the concrete-lined track, temporary street circuits are not generally considered a natural milieu for sports cars. But last year’s debut for GRAND-AM on the track set a high bar with a dramatic finish that saw the two leading cars trading paint all the way to the finish.
This year, the action started right at the drop of the green flag.
The opening lap saw Gustavo Yacaman, who won the Firestone Indy Lights race on the track in 2012, taking the fight to the championship-leading Ganassi machine driven by Memo Rojas. The two fought for the same ground. Neither gave up as Rojas was edged into the tire barriers, halting his Daytona Prototype and sending him spinning directly into the path of Michael Shank Racing’s John Pew, who arrived at the corner only to make hard contact with the stranded machine.
Once the race restarted, the pole-winning Corvette DP of young Jordan Taylor jumped into the lead at the start, running at the point for 16 laps. But then 2012 Brickyard Grand Prix winner Alex Popow made his move, taking his Ford/Riley to the lead for the next 16 laps of the bumpy, 2.35-mile track.
A mid-race caution saw a flurry of pit stops, with the Wayne Taylor Racing squad getting Max Angelelli behind the wheel and back into the lead. Fighting off the charge of last year’s Detroit race winner Joao Barbosa in the Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Italian ace Angelelli took his 23rd career Rolex Series win by less than half of a second.
The triumph, combined with Ganassi’s misfortune, sees the Velocity Worldwide-sponsored Wayne Taylor team atop the championship standings ahead of the Rolex Series return to Mid-Ohio on June 14-15.
While the Corvette DP 1-2 finish was a big moment for Chevrolet fans, there was another nail-biter on offer in GT-class competition as John Edwards pushed his Stevenson Automotive Camaro GT.R home ahead of two Ferraris that breathed down his neck for the final 30 laps of the race. Young American star Edwards held his ground to score the third Rolex Series win in a row for him and co-driver Robin Liddell.
With just five points separating the top four teams, and just nine days until the teams start unpacking at Mid-Ohio for round six, there is no time to relax now as the Sprint to the Bricks continues.
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