DAYTONA BEACH, Fla (Jan. 25, 2009) – In the closest finish in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley and drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia captured the 47th anniversary of the twice-around-the clock challenge on Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
The final hours of the twice-around-the-clock marathon came down to an epic four-way battle between the No. 58 and 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Rileys, the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley – a team that has captured the past three Rolex 24s.
On Lap 712 with 41 minutes remaining in the race, pole sitter David Donohue in the No. 58 car slipped past Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 01 car coming through the tri-oval and held on for the win by .167 seconds -- the closest margin of victory in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The No. 01 Lexus Riley with Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas took second-place honors followed the Brumos Racing sister car – the No. 59 machine of JC France, Hurley Haywood, Terry Borcheller and Joao Barbosa – and the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara with Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, Brian Frisselle and Pedro Lamy.
The previous closest margin victory in the Rolex 24 was 30.879 seconds set in 2000 and the four cars that finished on the lead lap was also a Rolex 24 record.
“Was I surprised there were six cars in the lead lap come daybreak? Not really,” Donohue said of the fierce competition in this year’s Rolex 24. “The Daytona Prototypes have proven their durability over the years. The field was filled with fully capable teams, multi-car teams, single-car teams. Guys that had done their homework. It just makes it that much sweeter to beat a Ganassi and beat a Penske and beat a SunTrust.”
David Donohue joins his late father Mark as the third father-son combination to win the overall Rolex 24. The late Mark Donohue won the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Penske Racing 40 years ago.
“I’m certainly very, very proud of my father and his accomplishments and what he’s done,” Donohue said. “Just coincidentally we happened to nail it on the 40th anniversary of him winning the Lola and Penske’s winning the Lola. I feel more attachment to the effort my guys have put in to this and to Brumos and to Hurley (Haywood) and Bob Snodgrass and Bob Carlson from Porsche. That’s where my heart is to be honest.”
For Brumos Racing, it was their first Rolex 24 victory since 1978 and the No. 58 car covered 735 laps, 2,616.6 miles.
The No. 67 and No. 66 Porsche GT3 Cup cars brought home a one-two finish for TRG in the Grand Tuner Class.
The No. 67 TRG team consisted of five drivers -- Justin Marks, Andy Lally, Valentine Braintree, Jorg Bergmeister, and Patrick Long.
“To win the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a thrill beyond imagination for me,” Braintree said. “What happened for me today is a thrill beyond comprehension.”
“I’ve got people up here that are my close friends and that I’ve shared some of my most special moments with,” said TRG driver and owner Kevin Buckler. “To be able to be a part of the delivery of a victory for these guys, it’s just so satisfying.”
Wright Motosports’ No. 33 Porsche GT3 Cup car captured third.
Other notable finishers include:
After having some early mechanical issues, the No. 2 Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford that featured Indy Car star driver Danica Patrick, NASCAR driver Casey Mears, Rob Finlay and Andy Wallace, finished eighth overall.
“Four years ago, I felt more like a road racer and now I feel more like a NASCAR guy,” Casey Mears said. “But it doesn’t take long to find your roots.”
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing No. 99 Pontiac Riley that included three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished seventh overall.
“It’s nice to get the butterflies going and get your brain going again,” Johnson said.
The No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 Team that showcased driving Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey finished 22nd in the GT Class and 35th overall.
Motorcycle stars Scott Russell, Jason Pridmore and Jeff Ward along with sports car veteran Guy Cosmo battle mechanical gremlins and a pit road fire but were able to bring home the No. 09 Sprit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote to a 23rd-place overall finish with 649 laps completed.
“Guy had just exited the car; he was over the wall,” said Russell of the pit road fire. “I had my arms through the shoulder belts and I smelled it (fuel) instantly. They took the deck lid off and it flamed up. I dived out. Luckily, I wasn’t strapped in it. The race was a good experience. I hate it for the guys, they’ve worked so hard.”
The team, based in nearby Holly Hill, Fla., managed to repair the Porsche Coyote and take the checkered flag. Russell, a five-time Daytona 200 By Honda champion, and Pridmore both expressed interest in more sports car races in the future.
The stock car portion of DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 will kick off with the Budweiser Shootout and Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Saturday night, Feb. 7.
Tickets for all DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 events are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
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