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SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 wins Phoenix Grand-Am Race
Submitted by Berny Herrera on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 4:04pm

Date 2005-09-09
By Nancy Knapp Schilke

David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay turned the Grand-Am Cup Sport Touring pole into a race win at Phoenix International Raceway, earning their fifth win this year in their #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.

"The plan was to not stop again, so I had to drive the car a certain way to use a minute less of fuel and still get the lap times that we needed," Tremblay said.

"It is pretty difficult in the heat - it was hot," remarked Tremblay who drove the second sting. "We had such a great group. Dave gave me a great car. It is a real testament to David, and the team and Mazda.

The duo were able to hold off all challenges at the end and took the Friday early evening win by nearly ten seconds over the Georgian Bay Motorsports #01 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Jim Holtom and Ed Magner.

"The podium is always a great place to be," said Holtom. "I started in eighth, and when I handed it over to Ed we were running in fourth. Ed brought it home for us."

The fight for first was anything but easy, the two Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S's were in the top of the battle from the green flag on during the majority of the race. The #27 lead the first lap as the eventual race winner was mixing it up with the #29 Acura as they traded for second position in the opening laps.

Add the #95 Turner Motorsports BMW 330i into the picture with the #01 on its rear bumper and the five-way battle for first commenced. The only caution in the race tighten up the field when the Nuzzo Motorsports #20 Mini Cooper S lost it at Turn 6 and rolled into the seventh turn.

"We knew the No. 27 Acura of Curran was fast, so I followed behind him," explained Haskell of the race start. "I was catching him slowly, so when that yellow came out pretty early, it worked out well.

"I was fortunate enough to get the pole, and the team was fortunate to get the win," continued Haskell who maintains the points lead. "This is a tough series and I don't think people understand that. We give 110 percent every week. This is a great team. Hopefully we will go to VIR and finish out the season well. I'm happy we have five wins this season, one more than last year."

After pit stops with driver changes, the #29, who did not pit earlier handed the lead over to Tremblay. No doubt the strategy was to bring them in on the next caution that never materialized. They lost the battle for the win with a later stop for the mandatory driver change.

Holtom and Magner gave it a good go as they chased down the Mazda. They had a nice cushion over the rest of the field as in the closing laps of the race that became a time limit of two hours as the leaders had only turned 99 of the scheduled 133 laps.

"It was a great stint and a great car. The crew did an awesome job, and we timed our pit stops really well - I think it was our best stop all year," expressed Magner. "I can't say enough about the Cobalt. The effort put into this is superb. It was a great run."

Bo Roach and Tom Leppler in their Franklin American team car gave General Motors two podium finishes in their #32 Cobalt by nabbing the third place finish, a full 43.974-seconds adrift of the race winning team.

"Chevrolet has come on this year, and they are doing a tremendous job with new a program," added Tremblay. "They are right there all the time. Five victories this year, and we are really happy with our program and the team. The Mazda RX-8 is a great car."

A remarkable drive was done by the #98 Stewart Motorsports Acura TSX who came from the back of the grid in the 19 car field to move up to fifth before garnering 11th by the checkered flag.

Turner Motorsports #95 BMW had to have the saddest ending of a race when they had to pit for fuel, relinquishing second position.

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