By: Drew Hierwarter
After 23 hours and more than 700 laps around the Daytona International Speedway, the 2009 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona came down to a final hour nose to tail battle between two teams that were trying to make history.
The Telmex/Target Chip Ganassi team was trying for an unprecedented fourth consecutive overall win. While the Brumos Racing team was trying to win for the first time since 1978. Adding to the drama was the fact that the Brumos Porsche/Riley was being driven during the final hours by David Donohue, son of the late Mark Donahue who won this race forty years earlier.
This year’s event broke several records with the most cars finishing on the lead lap, four. The most laps completed in the Daytona Prototype era, 735. The most lead changes, 53 by 22 drivers in 9 different cars. And the closest margin of victory, .167 seconds!
Donohue, who was joined on the victory podium by co-drivers; Darren Law, Buddy Rice, and Antonio Garcia, took over the lead from Juan Pablo Montoya with only 39 minutes left in the race. From there to the end Montoya pressured Donohue at every opportunity but just couldn’t pass the speeding Porsche.
“Every corner it was 110 percent everywhere,” said Montoya, “And it was fun, because we drove like that the last two hours. And we didn’t make any mistakes. I gave it 110 percent, and I know I couldn’t go any faster if I had done anything different.” Montoya was teamed with Memo Rojas, and Scott Pruitt in a Lexus/Riley Daytona Prototype.
The second Brumos Racing entry, driven by Rolex 24 veteran Hurley Haywood, J.C. France, Joao Barbosa, and Terry Borcheller finished in third, 5.5 seconds back. The Suntrust Racing Ford/Dallara co-driven by Wayne Taylor, Pedro Lamy and Brian Frisselle came in fourth. Rounding out the top five was the other Telmex/Target Chip Ganassi Lexus/Riley shared by Scott Dixon (who won the race in ’06), Dario Franchitti, and Alex Lloyd.
The GT class was a 1-2 finish for the TRG Porsche team. Andy Lally, Justin Marks, Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, and R.J. Valentine were in the winning entry, while Spencer Pumpelly, Tim George Jr, Richard Leitz and Emmanuel Collard, finished second, one lap behind.
The Brumos Porsche name has become almost legendary in endurance road racing and after being kept out of Daytona’s
“These guys have put a lot of effort into this,” Donohue said. “I’m glad to be able to carry the flag. The Brumos team is just a tenacious bunch of guys, they never give up and today proves the point. We came here ready to run and we ran hard the whole time.”