First American champions crowned

by Gordon Kirby on 31st August 2010

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas became the first major American racing champions of the year when they scored their eighth win of the year in the Grand-Am race at le Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal last Saturday driving Chip Ganassi’s Riley-BMW. Pruett has now won a total of 30 Grand-Am races, but this was the first time he or Ganassi enjoyed winning in Montreal.

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Pruett, 50, took his third Grand-Am title and Ganassi’s fourth in the past six years but this was the first time they’ve done it with BMW engines. Pruett/Rojas beat defending champions Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty’s Gainsco Riley-Chevrolet by barely a second in Montreal, wrapping-up the title after eleven of the twelve races. Pruett/Rojas and Gurney/Fogarty have been the stars of the Grand-Am in recent years, trading the championship back and forth since 2007.

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On the same day at Mosport three hundred miles to the west Conor Daly won the Star-Mazda championship in style as he took his ninth pole of the year and then scored a runaway victory, his seventh this year, to wrap-up the Star Mazda title with one race to go. Eighteen-year old Daly is the son of former F1, Indy car and sports car racers Derek Daly (below with Conor). Conor won the Skip Barber National championship in 2008 and also scored an excellent win that year in the rain in the Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford race at Silverstone. Conor will test a GP3 car for Status Racing at Silverstone next week and hopes to race next year in Europe.

“My passion is Formula One,” Conor says. “That’s what I want to do and to be in Formula One you have to race in Europe. The goal is to be racing in Europe next year.”

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Last Saturday night’s IndyCar race at the Chicagoland Speedway was won by Dario Franchitti who kept his championship hopes alive with a brilliant tactical win. Franchitti was mired in the pack for most of the race but beat everyone out of the pits from the last round of stops by not taking on fresh tyres. Dario then drove superbly to score his third win of the year, beating Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti across the line. This was Dario’s twenty-sixth CART/IRL win and it moves him into a tie with Rodger Ward on the all-time IndyCar winners list.

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Championship leader Will Power battled for the lead most of the way but had to make a last-minute stop for fuel, tumbling to sixteenth at the finish. As a result defending champion Franchitti has pulled to within twenty-five points of Power with three races to go so that Dario has a chance of winning his third IndyCar title in four years and Ganassi has a shot at taking three straight IndyCar championships.

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