Indianapolis, IN (July 30, 2012)- Just four weeks after suffering a devastating blow to the team’s title hopes in a massive cockpit fire, Magnus Racing emerged from Friday’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as not only the inaugural winners of the Brickyard Grand Prix, but the first-ever winners of the GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship.
“I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say this is so overwhelming,” stated Magnus Racing Team Owner John Potter. “This team worked so hard to get the car ready after our fire at Watkins Glen. Literally every piece of the car had to be un-bolted and re-bolted to our second car to make it to our first test here three weeks ago, and since that time had to do a near full-rebuild to be ready for this race. It’s unbelievable how hard they worked, and it’s a perfect reward for such a great crew.”
For Andy Lally, the sentiment is the same.
“We just won Indy.” Stated the New York native. “After everything the guys went through the last four weeks, there was never a chance to sit back and think of how cool it would be to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When we took the white flag, all of a sudden it became real what we’d done. It’s a huge credit to the guys, and a great tribute to John who did an amazing job of driving, and a perfect job of putting this team together.”
Before the green flag ever fell on the 2.5 mile “roval” (oval track with an infield road course), the real race for Magnus Racing began following the most recent round at Watkins Glen International Raceway. When driver John Potter pulled off the road due to an electrical fire just 30 minutes in, the driver and team were left helpless to watch the cockpit of the no. 44 Porsche GT3 Cup turn in to a massive inferno, leading to extensive damage to the car as well as championship position.
With only days to get the car prepared for a series-sanctioned test at Indianapolis after Watkins Glen, the crew pulled an amazing 136 combined man-hours in a 72-hour period to get the car ready. Proceeding to test the car at Indianapolis in 105 degree heat, the car would return to the team’s shop for a complete and thorough re-build, resulting in a very full two-weeks for the crew before they’d even arrived at the track for the race.
Running the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix as a one-day show (practice, qualifying, and race), John Potter, residing in Salt Lake City, would take advantage of their one-hour of practice before the race to qualify the car on the seventh row.
With the field set and the race about to start, a classic Indiana downpour of rain would emerge just minutes before the race start. Known for his propensity in the wet as evidenced at Homestead this year, Potter would take the green flag to a very wet and wild start to the inaugural event. With several cars making contact, spinning, or simply running wide in the treacherous conditions, Potter never put a wheel wrong, the only real drama being a smoking left rear rain-tire as a result of rubbing against bodywork.
Switching to dry tires early in the stint, engineer Lars Giersing took a gamble with Potter’s ability on a drying track, with Potter handling the conditions perfectly. By time the no. 44 would pit again under caution, the car would be handed over to Andy Lally, the team in serious contention with a competitive field.
Slowly working through the field as the race wore on, the three-hour event would take a critical turn before the halfway point, as yet another chance downpour would force everyone back in to the pits for rain tires. Driving a determined wet stint, Lally would continue to drive without error, and as the track began to dry, Giersing would once again make a critical decision to pit for dry tires before the rest of the field.
While Lally’s initial laps on slick tires would prove difficult, the strategy began to take form as Lally set lap-times quicker than the rest of the field, and when a timely caution would come out with an hour and twenty minutes remaining, Magnus Racing would advance to the front of the field as the rest changed for slick tires as well.
When yet another caution would come out with just under an hour remaining, the no. 44 would make their last stop of the day, and as the field cycled through the car would remain at the front with no stops remaining. This would put driver Andy Lally in a position to do what he does best, out-drive the field in a straight fight to the end.
With the no. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche of Leh Keen and the no. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Jonathan Bomarito hot on the heels of the 44, a fantastic three-way battle would ensue for the final 30 minutes. Surviving two re-starts and maintaining the lead, an incident involving the no. 66 of Joerg Bergmeister with less than five minutes remaining would bring out one final caution period, and without enough time for the field to resume to green flag racing.
Safely taking the white and yellow flags combined, Lally would drive one of the longest laps of his career to take the first ever Rolex Series checkered flag at Indianapolis, the first ever GT car to ever cross the famous yard of bricks at the finish. In addition to the victory, the team would also take the crown as the first-ever winners of the GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship, a special title handed out for the best points finisher in a combination of the season’s three marquis events: The Rolex 24 at Daytona, The Six Hours at the Glen, and The Brickyard Grand Prix.
For Andy Lally, it was a great team effort.
“Lars made some excellent, excellent calls today,” stated Lally, who drove his first laps at Indy last year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. “Great calls, perfect pit stops, and all in a car that had an unbelievable amount of man hours put in to it before it ever arrived. This is a great home for me here at Magnus, this truly is a one-of-a-kind team.”
For John Potter, his third-year team is definitely in its strongest form yet.
“It’s no secret that after Daytona, our season had gotten a bit frustrating,” stated Potter. “This team always kept their head down and focused on maximizing every result even when wins weren’t possible, and being crowned as the first ever North American Endurance Champions is a true testament to the complete quality of the team here.”
Beyond on-track results, Magnus Racing once again took fans directly in to their pit with their second ever pitside webcast. Broadcasting for 11-straight hours beginning with the first practice session in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the team enjoyed over 25,000 site visits during the day, with fans getting the chance to meet and interact not only with Magnus Racing personnel, but GRAND-AM Road Racing at large. Interestingly, their last broadcast was at Daytona, where they also won.
With the victory now behind everyone, the team now turns its attention to their next race in just two weeks time, with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competing on yet another NASCAR weekend, this one at the famed “short course” of Watkins Glen International Raceway. Live coverage can be seen on Saturday, August 11 at 6PM ET.