Jon Fogarty passed Scott Pruett at the entrance to the Corkscrew with 22 laps remaining in Sunday's 106-lap Verizon Festival of Speed and held on to give the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac Riley its second Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 victory of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
In GT, Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to score their first victory of the season in the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8.
Fogarty started and finished the race, run under sunny skies and 91-degree temperatures. Alex Gurney drove the middle shift to give the team its 10th Rolex Series victory, beating the No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley started by pole sitter Memo Rojas by 7.228 seconds.
While it was the 10th time Fogarty and Gurney co-drove to win - following up their seven-victory championship season in 2007 - it marked the first time Fogarty actually took the checkered flag at the finish.
"We weren't sure if I had been in the car the required 30 minutes to score points," Fogarty said. "We considered leaving Alex in, but we figured since it's early in the season it was important for both of us to score points. On the winning pass, Scott got caught up in traffic in Turn 6 - and your momentum gets killed at that part of the track - so I had a good run and made it three-wide at that point. I got off into the gravel, but I was able to get back on the tarmac and outbraked him. I really almost didn't make it."
The victory allowed Fogarty and Gurney to take the Daytona Prototype point lead. Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Darren Law and David Donohue finished eighth in the Brumos Porsche Riley, and fell to second in the standings, eight points behind (119-111).
Rojas led the an event-high 44 laps in the race, with Pruett pacing 20 circuits in a bid to give them their first victory of the season.
The final 18 minutes were run under the green flag. Fogarty made his pass for the lead moments before the fourth and final caution, and then slowly pulled away after the final restart.
"We got caught up behind a GT car and had our momentum broke," Pruett said. "It was good, hard racing. He got his nose in there and I couldn't do anything about it."
Max Angelelli finished third in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara started by Brian Frisselle, followed by Burt Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley started by Mark Wilkins. For Wilkins and Burt Frisselle, it was their best finish of 2009.
Michael Shank Racing took fifth and seventh positions, with Ozz Negri and Mark Patterson fifth in the No. 60 Ford Riley, and Michael Valiante and John Pew taking seventh in the team's No. 6. In between was the Penske Racing No. 12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard.
Much of the race was run under the green flag, with two cautions early in the event and a pair during the closing half-hour. The first incident occurred when Rolex 24 winner Justin Marks had a water leak in the TRG No. 67 Construct Corps Porsche GT3 and spun directly in front of the leaders on lap 10. Marks stopped on course to bring out the caution. The car co-driven by Andy Lally was able to continue after losing 30 laps in the pits.
"I saw the car spinning, but I was able to get our car in a direction where I would not hurt anything," said Rojas, who was pressured by Fogarty and Brian Frisselle at the time.
The second caution waved 30 minutes into the race when Scott Tucker went off and was stuck in a gravel trap. He was able to continue, with Christophe Bouchut taking over the No. 55 Supercar Life Racing BMW Riley to finish ninth in class.
After a long green-flag stretch, Wayne Nonnamaker was stranded in the gravel in the No. 43 Sahlen's Corvette with less than an hour remaining -- erasing a seven-second lead for Pruett.
The fourth caution waved with 30 minutes remaining, when Mike Forest lost power in the Beyer Racing No. 13 Honda Riley and stopped on the track.
The Comptech Honda engine made its Daytona Prototype debut in the Beyer Racing No. 5 Lennox Riley Comptech Honda Riley. Jordan Taylor went out eight laps into the race with an electrical systems problem.
Also experiencing problems was the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola. Nic Jonsson -- winner with Ricardo Zonta in the most recent race at New Jersey Motorsports Park - spun in the Corkscrew while trying to hold off Alex Gurney. A broken splitter resulted in the team's third DNF in four races.
Fogarty and Gurney completed 106 laps on the 2.238-mile circuit, averaging 85.807 mph.
Tremblay, Ham Win First GT Race of Season for Mazda
Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay teamed to lead 84 laps to give the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 its first Grand-Am Rolex Series Acxiom GT victory of the campaign.
Ham started on the pole and led four times for 50 laps. Tremblay took over and led the final 34 circuits after taking the lead from Paul Edwards.
"Last year I made a small mistake here and went from first to third," Tremblay said. "This year I wasn't going to make that mistake. Our car did a great job preparing our Mazda RX-8, and how can you not capitalize on that, our car was that good."
Ham, who won his series-leading second pole on Saturday, agreed with his co-driver.
"Our car was that good; it was just a matter of grinding out the laps," Ham said. "It was my job just to get the car to halfway."
Edwards and Kelly Collins teamed to lead for nine laps in the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R. They held on to finish second, 8.23 seconds behind.
Leh Keen and Dirk Werner, winner of the most recent event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, finished third in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3.
Fourth went to Ted Ballou and Spencer Pumpelly in the TRG No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber Porsche GT3, followed by Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal in the SpeedSource No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
Pumpelly retains the Acxiom GT point lead, one ahead of Keen and Werner (117-116).
The next action for the Grand-Am Rolex Series will be the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on June 6 at Watkins Glen International. The Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge will race May 23-25 in the traditional Memorial Day weekend event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.