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Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity

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On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 3:38PM | By: John Welch

Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity

Last week, the race was at Lime Rock, this week Watkins Glen. Using the word "week" to describe Grand-Am's recent schedule is a wee bit excessive. The Lime Rock portion of this cavalcade of road racing madness took place last Monday, Memorial Day. While the rest of us ate pork and drank Schlitz, Rolex Sports Car teams were dueling each other on a new (to Grand-Am) circuit. Afterwards, while we were faking sleep on the couch to avoid dishes, these teams were driving 18-wheelers filled with racecars and race paraphernalia north, to Watkins Glen New York. Where, after just four short days, they will unload and begin terrorizing the Catskills countryside with the sounds and tremors of 40 angry, dinosaur-fueled sports cars. Almost makes a person forget about that whole "oil spill" thingee. Almost.

Though domination by the Ganassi BMWs was every knowledgeable know-nothing's prediction (yours truly included) the blue and white Riley was crippled two laps into the race—the outcome of a scuffle with the championship-contending No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet. This incident left the door open for the SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing team, who were starting the race from the pole position. Max Angelli drove a smooth race and brought the SunTrust Dallara its first victory of the season.

A video review of Lime Rock and a preview of the Sahlens 6 Hours at the Glen inside the post . . .

Jimmie Johnson Returns to Grand-Am

Jimmie Johnson, four-time Sprint Cup Champion, has raced in the Rolex Series and at Watkins Glen . . . just not at the same time. Johnson raced in eight Sprint Cup Series races at The Glen, starting on the pole twice with three top fives, including third in 2007. Johnson has seven starts in the Rolex Series, but all of them took place at Daytona International Raceway, including this year's Rolex 24. Johnson has finished second twice, with six top-10 finishes.

Johnsonwill join defending Daytona Prototype champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, in the same Chevrolet that tangled with the Ganassi car last week. Actually, the No. 99 is the only Chevrolet in the field. Johnson is remaining humble regarding his experience with Daytona Prototypes, citing the ‘driver change’ as an aspect of road racing that he is not entirely familiar with. "It seems like it'd be a piece of cake, but it's tough when the engine's running and you actually have to do it," Johnson said. "It's a really tough challenge. And I think that the multiple driver changes in the 24-hour race will help, but that's definitely going to be a spot I'm nervous about and am worried about making a mistake."

To prepare for this 6-hour sweat-fest, Johnson has utilized iRacing.com and its accurate simulation of Watkins Glen. Johnson has yet to determine just how "accurate" accurate is.

"Yea, (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. set it up for me," Johnson said. "So we'll find out after I make a lap or two in practice how accurate it is. It seems like, based on running the part of the track that I'm familiar with, that it's very accurate. So I think it will help. I recognize that there's some really blind corners down in the other section that I've never been on before and I think all the repetition I've made on the computer game should help."

Look for the blood-red No. 99 Gainsco machine to qualify well with Jon Fogarty at the wheel. Qualifying at Watkins GlenInternationalbegins at 3:40 p.m. ET on Friday. SPEEDTV.com will begin its coverage at 3:35 p.m., and run througheach 15-minute session: Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring (GT). You can access the live stream here: http://stream.speedtv.com/.

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