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Matos garners first Rolex win

Published: Sunday, Sept. 21 2008 12:08 a.m. MDT

TOOELE — The second longest Rolex Sports Car Series Grand-Am race of the year finished at six hours and 47 minutes on Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park, and crossing the finish line first was Raphael Matos in car No. 6 claiming the first place trophy for his team.

It was the third consecutive first-time winner in the Rolex Series.

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas were crowned champions of the yearly series after each driver participated for just 30 minutes each. They finished the race but dropped back to a ninth-place finish in this one.

Earlier, Pruett and Rojas had won six races in the Daytona Prototype Class to build an insurmountable lead.

"I'm happy to get back on top," said Pruett, "but I'm still sore from my mishap in New Jersey."

Pruett wrecked his car the last weekend in August and his team scrambled to get one ready for the race here.

In a much tighter battle, Paul Edwards outdueled Robin Liddell for first place in the GT class and won the season series.

Coming into today's race, Edwards and his teammate, Kelly Collins, owned a six-point lead over Liddell and his teammate Andrew Davis.

"All we wanted was a victory," said Collins after describing the worst conditions he had ever driven in.

Rain struck about 3 1/2 hours into the race and a dozen cars spun out. The yellow caution flag came out for about 30 minutes while cars changed tires.

Liddell concurred with Collins: "I haven't driven in conditions any worse than this."

Changing the tires back to the slicks first was the best move that John Fogarty made. He came out of the pit and was able to grab first place and his team held on for 26 laps before finally winding up third and still garnering a place on the podium.

Fogarty, Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vasser placed second over the entire series. Comparing it to driving a street car, he said, "It's like driving on ice."

Those in charge of tires were well prepared for all circumstances. They brought in 3,500 tires for the race.

The green flag came out at the 4:10 mark and it was a clear track the rest of the way.

Although it was their first win in the series, Matos and his team, Ian James and John Pew, were elated. Matos gave credit to his entire crew explaining that on the last pit stop he went in at fifth place and came out in first and he was able to hold his position the rest of the way.

Placing second in the DP category was Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante.

Collins and Liddell finished second Saturday in the GT category and also second in the season series.

Today, the Koni Challenge begins at 11 a.m. and the Ford Mustang Challenge begins at 3:45 p.m.


E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com

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