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Pruett, Rojas Continue GRAND-AM Rolex Series Dominance At VIR

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas are looking pretty unbeatable these days. After having opened the season with a second-place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the pair reeled off two straight wins.

The pair made it three in a row here Saturday, winning the Bosch Engineering 250 at Alton’s VIRginia International Raceway. However, unlike the two previous wins, there was drama at the end.

With about 30 minutes left in the two-and-three-quarters hour race Pruett’s BMW Riley Daytona Prototype car and a GT car brushed each other, ripping the rear spoiler on Pruett’s car. The spoiler broke on lap 73, bringing out the race’s second full-course caution period.

On the ensuing restart on lap 77, a handful of Daytona Prototype cars got together, bringing out another full-course caution.

Pruett had the AIM Autosport Ford Riley driven by Burt Frisselle draped all over him on the final restart of the race, came with five laps to go. Despite the damaged rear spoiler and a broken leuver on his car’s left-front fender, Pruett held on to edge Frisselle by .293-second.

“It was a wicked, wicked ride,” Pruett said of the last stages of the race.

“It was scary. I was having to struggle to hold onto the back of it (the car). It was literally just holding on after we had that issue with the spoiler. It was sideways everywhere.”

The trade-off in the loss of downforce, Pruett explained, was that he gained straight-line speed.

“The one thing I knew was that I had an advantage in straight-line speed,” Pruett said.

“I knew if I could get up and off a turn well, I’d be very difficult to pass on a straight line.”

With the second-place finish, Frisselle matched his career-best finish. It was the best finish for his teammate, Mark Wilkins, since 2008, when he and Brian Frisselle won two races.

Scott obviously had a winning car,” Frisselle remarked.

“You could see that just by looking at it. There were places on the track where you could make up time on him because he was losing downforce and the aero balance (on his car) was bad. But it also makes you quicker in a straight line when you lose that drag that goes with the downforce. He (Pruett) drove a great stint.”

Pruett and Rojas led all but nine laps of the 84-lap race. Pruett wrestled the lead from Frisselle for the final time on lap 63, a couple of laps after the front-running teams made their final pit stop for tires and fuel.

Rojas started the race from the pole and led the first 22 laps before making a green-flag pit stop near the 45-minute mark of the race and turning the car over to Pruett.

“The car changed from qualifying to the race,” Rojas pointed out.

“It picked up an oversteer, especially in the entry (to the corners). It made it a little more difficult to drive, but it was still fast.”

The tandem of Max Angelelliu and Ricky Taylor finished third, giving Taylor the first podium finish of his career. Teammates Darren Law and David Donahue finished fourth with the team of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney rounding out the top-five finishers.

There were six lead changes among five drivers and four cars in the 84-lap event.

Lally Wins GT Event
Andy Lally made contact with the car driven by Bill Auberlen with two laps left, but Lally was able to hang on and drive his Porsche GT 3 car to victory in the GT division.

The win was the 100th career win for Lally.

A gamble in pit strategy after the race’s second caution flag allowed Lally to move from seventh place to second place. He grabbed the race lead shortly after the restart and led the final 25 laps.

Lally and Auberlen were battling for the lead when the pair made contact with two laps to go. Auberlen’s BMW spun and he made a good recovery to finish eighth.

At the end, Lally held off a Mazda RX-8 driven by Jeff Segal by .712 second to take the win.

The Dempsey Racing entry that had television star and racer Patrick Dempsey at the wheel encountered brake problems early in the race. After falling a lap down, Dempsey’s team was able to get back on the lead lap later in the race.