Excitement on Tap This Weekend in the Garden State

July 15, 2010
Nate Siebens, Contributing Writer

The No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley, piloted by Ozz Negri and John Pew.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It will be an exciting atmosphere this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, which culminates in Sunday’s NJMP 250 presented by Crown Royal for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Both the Rolex Series and the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will be making their third appearances on the 2.25-mile, 12-turn Thunderbolt Raceway circuit.

The South Jersey speedplant known as NJMP has a lot going on, from the always-popular driver autograph sessions and Fan Walk on the pre-race grids for both Saturday’s Garden State 250 and Sunday’s NJMP 250 presented by Crown Royal, to a Kids Zone that will be open throughout the weekend and a Saturday night concert.

Other attractions include the traveling GRAND-AM Fan Zone, pre-race flyovers, the Porsche Club of America Car Corral – which will once again be sponsored by ESCORT Inc. – and a “Turn 3 Party Package” for race fans looking for a more upscale experience on Sunday.

Of course, the on-track competition takes center stage. Saturday’s Garden State 250, which takes the green flag at 2:45 p.m. ET, will feature 2.5 hours of bumper-to-bumper action among 54 cars, which has been the calling card of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. In 2009, Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly took the overall and Grand Sport (GS) class win last year in a TRG Porsche, with Randy Pobst and Christian Miller taking the Street Tuner (ST) victory in a Compass360 Racing Acura.

Sunday’s NJMP 250 presented by Crown Royal is the main event of the weekend with the green flag slated to fall at 1 p.m. ET, with an two-hour and 45-minute time limit. Last year’s race was won by Krohn Racing co-drivers Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta, with Leh Keen and Dirk Werner combining to win the GT race for Farnbacher Loles Racing.

Ozz Negri and Mark Patterson claimed the inaugural victory in 2008 for Michael Shank Racing, and Negri clearly rates this weekend among his favorites. The Brazilian will co-drive the No. Crown Royal XR Ford Riley with John Pew, and he feels there are a few key factors to success in New Jersey.

“You need lots of patience,” Negri says. “The main thing, especially when we won, was dealing with traffic in the correct way. Just trying to pass them and gauge where you’re going to get close to them, and if it’s not worth it, just backing off a little bit earlier and getting a run on them.”

Another key to this weekend’s race, according to Negri, is likely to be pit strategy. And that strategy will be dictated by track position.

“I would say that (strategy is) extremely important,” Negri says. “When we won our race, we made most of our passes in the pits. On track, I just had to pass Max (Angelelli) and Alex Gurney to get to the lead. The rest was done in the pits.”

If you’re going to be at the racetrack this weekend and are looking for the prime passing locations, Negri recommends Turn 1 right-hander and the Turn 7 left-hander. But he knows that battles will be plentiful anywhere you look.

“Just like every Rolex Series race, people have to watch for all the battles and the competition, which is pretty tough,” Negri says. “I think it’s never been as good as it is now in competition. I think any of the cars that are entered have a true chance of a race win.”
source http://www.grand-am.com

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