The 2004 Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am) was the fifth season for the series. A business model which controlled costs, had stable rules and avoided being on dependent of automotive manufacturers attracted many private teams. Based on the failure, of its predecessor, the United States Road Racing Championship in 1999 critics suggested that the Grand Am would suffer a similar fate. This was proving not to be the case as entries were continuing to grow with each year.

In the first season of Grand Am competition there were five classes but by 2004 the series had reduced the number to three categories:

  • Daytona Prototype (DP): This class was introduced in 2003 and was established to replace the two existing Sports Racing Prototype groups. To control costs, the cars used a tube frame chassis rather than the expensive composites used to construct most prototype race cars. Also, expenses were contained by limiting modifications and implementing rules that would be in place for five years. Approved to produce the first generation of Daytona Prototypes - for a cost of approximately $400,000 were: Riley Technologies, Doran Designs, Crawford Race Cars, Fabcar Engineering, Chase Competition Engineering, Picchio and Multimatic. Costs were also controlled by restricting the engines to production based motors supplied by Pontiac, Lexus, BMW, Porsche, Ford and Infiniti. Engine displacement was used to determine the weight of a car and whether a five or six-speed transmission could be utilized.
  • Grand Touring (GT): In 2004, rules were established that allowed GT and GTS cars to compete in the same category. As a result, 28 different models from 19 manufacturers were eligible for this class. Examples include Porsche, BMW, Chevrolet, Mazda, Ferrari and Pontiac. As with the Daytona Prototypes, engine displacement was used to establish the weight of different makes and models.
  • Super Grand Sports (SGS): Cars competing in 2003s Grand Am Cup Series Grand Sport I category were moved to the Grand Am division. Included in this class are production-based cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3, Chevrolet Corvette and Ferrari 360.

As in the past, the season opened in February with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and ended at California Speedway. In between these two venues, there were events at Homestead-Miami, Mont-Tremblant, Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Phoenix International Raceway and Virginia International Raceway. There was a total of twelve events with the series competing at Daytona, Watkins Glen and Homestead-Miami twice.

The Food City 250 held at Phoenix International Raceway was race three of the twelve rounds contested during the 2004 Grand-Am season. Participants would compete for 133-laps around the 1.51-mile ‘Roval’. A tight short track, forty starters and a significant speed differential between the classes contributed to a caution filled race – there were seven yellow flag periods for thirty-five laps.

It is an all Chip Ganassi Racing front row as the field of forty starters prepare to take the green flag for the Food City 250. On the pole is the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MK XI driven by Scott Pruett and Max Papis. This was the third pole position of the season for the No. 01 Riley. On the outside of the pole-sitter is the second Chip Ganassi entry shared by Luis Diaz and Jimmy Morales.
The SunTrust Racing Riley MK XI was the third quickest car throughout practice but team principal, Wayne Taylor dropped to fourth fastest in the 15-minute qualifying session. During the race, Taylor kept the car in the top-five. He handed over the driving duties to his teammate Max Angelelli during one of the many caution periods. A yellow-flag pit strategy gave the team an advantage and they won by 2.757-seconds.
Bill Auberlen was the nineteenth quickest car after qualifying which was the best time in the GT category. Auberlen shared the Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 with Boris Said. Said and Auberlen would face an early challenge from the No. 45 Gunnar Racing Porsche but at the conclusion of the race would win by a one lap margin.
An illness prevented Nick Longi from sharing the Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Maserati Trofeo Light with Emil Assentato and Stephen Earle. The vacated seat was filled by Joao Barbosa who qualified the Maserati third in the GT class. The team was in contention but the potential for a good result came to an end when Barbosa was hit by the SpeedSource Multimatic. The Maserati was repaired and returned the race - finishing eighth in class.
The No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MK XI was qualified by Luis Diaz. Diaz was second quickest in qualifying and lined up with his Chip Ganassi teammates on the front row. Sharing the car with Diaz was Jimmy Morales. During the race, the pair stayed in touch with the leaders. It appeared that they were going to earn a spot on the podium but a late race pass by the No. 81 G&W Motorsports Doran dropped them to a fourth place finish.
In the center are the Daytona Prototype class winners of the Food City 250 – Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. To their left, are the second-place finishers from Chip Ganassi Racing – Scott Pruett and Max Papis. Taking the final position on the podium are Cort Wagner and Kelly Collins.
Team owner, Michael Levitas qualified the Turbo Performance Center Racing Porsche GT3 Cup twenty-seventh overall and fourth in the Super Grand Sport category. During the course the race, he and his co-driver, Randy Pobst gained positions. With ten minutes remaining in the event, Pobst passed his teammate Andy Lally in the No. 38 TPC Porsche to score the class victory.
Qualifying duties for the No. 16 AASCO Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup was performed by Craig Stanton who set the fastest time in the Super Grand Sport class. Sadly, the advantage that Stanton had for being the fastest qualifier came to an end on the first lap when he received a drive-through penalty for jumping the start. He and his co-driver, David Murry were able to make up much of the lost time and finished second in class.
Sharing the No. 45 Gunnar Racing Porsche GT3RS was Gunnar Jeannette and NASCAR veteran, Kyle Petty. Jeannette qualified the Porsche twentieth overall and second in the GT category. He and Petty were able to match the speed of the leading BMW early in the race but eventually the Prototype Technology Group car pulled away. At the checkered flag, they were second – one lap behind the class victors.
The Grand Touring category podium. In the center are the class winners from the Prototype Technology Group – Boris Said and Bill Auberlen. Runner-ups, Kyle Petty and Gunnar Jeannette are standing to the right of Auberlen and Said. To the winner’s left are The Racer’s Group driver’s - Ian James, Chris Gleason and R.J. Valentine who finished third.
Max Papis was responsible for qualifying the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MK XI and for the third time this season the No. 01 Ganassi Riley was on the pole. At the start, Papis controlled the race and led the first twenty-four laps. He and his co-driver Scott Pruett looked like they might get their first win of the season. Unfortunately, the team was forced to make a green-flag pit-stop which gave the lead to the SunTrust Riley. They were second at the checkered flag.
Point’s leaders, Cort Wagner and Kelly Collins started in fifth grid position. Unfortunately, Wagner’s excellent starting position was undone when he received drive through penalty for jumping the start. Collins and Wagner drove hard to overcome this setback and by the end of the race were in contention for the win. At the checkered flag, the BMW-powered Doran JE4 was third.
Third quickest after the Super Grand Sport qualifying session was Marc Bunting in the TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup. Sharing the Porsche with Bunting was Andy Lally. The pair was leading, late in the race when they were passed by the AASCO Porsche and their teammates in the No. 36 Turbo Performance Center Porsche. They would finish third in class - on the same lap as the category winners.
In the center of the Super Grand Sport podium and are the class winners - Randy Pobst and team owner, Michael Levitas of Turbo Performance Center Racing. To their right, are AASCO teammates and second place finishers – Craig Stanton and David Murry. Rounding out the podium are the winner’s teammates – Andy Lally and Marc Bunting.
Starting twenty-second overall and seventh in the GT class were Ian James, R.J. Valentine and Chris Gleason in The Racer’s Group Porsche GT3RS. After the two gentlemen drivers were replaced by Ian James, the Porsche began to move through the field. During the final stint, James moved from seventh place to capture the final spot on the GT category podium.

1DPTaylor / AngelelliRiley Mk XI133-
2DPPapis / PruettRiley Mk XI133-
3DPWagner / CollinsDoran JE4133-
4DPDiaz / MoralesRiley Mk XI133-
5DPForbes-Robinson / LeitzingerCrawford DP03132-
6DPNegri / FrisselleDoran JE4132-
7DPGrégoire / GoadCrawford DP03132-
8DPPruskowski / PruskowskiMultimatic MDP1132-
9DPFrance / HaywoodFabcar FDSC/03131-
10GTAuberlen / SaidBMW M3129-
11GTJeannette / PettyPorsche GT3RS128-
12DPLloyd / GralaFabcar FDSC/03128-
13DPBarber / BorchellerDoran JE4127-
14SGSLevitas / PobstPorsche GT3 Cup126-
15SGSStanton / MurryPorsche GT3 Cup126-
16SGSBunting / LallyPorsche GT3 Cup126-
17DPDuno / WallaceCrawford DP03125-
18GTValentine / James / GleasonPorsche GT3RS125-
19SGSJulien / DumoulinPorsche GT3 Cup124-
20SGSSt. Amour / YeakleChevrolet Corvette124-
21SGSNonnamaker / NonnamakerPorsche GT3 Cup124-
22SGSAdam / LittlechildPorsche GT3 Cup123-
23SGSWard / BaughmanPorsche GT3 Cup122-
24DPHall / HuangCrawford DP03121Handling
25SGSKennedy / JermolukFerrari 360 Modena121-
26GTBuckler / HallidayPorsche GT3RS121-
27SGSSigal / PuddesterPorsche GT3 Cup117-
28GTVance / StevensonPorsche GT3R108-
29GTHemmingson / LisaChevrolet Corvette107Accident
30GTPolicastro, Jr. / Policastro / FitzgeraldPorsche GT3RS107-
31DPLienhard / TheysDoran JE4105Accident
32SGSWilkins / LaceyPorsche GT3 Cup102Accident
33SGSVan Wijk / NonnamakerPorsche GT3 Cup97-
34GTBarbosa / Assentato / EarleMaserati Trofeo Light73-
35DPLaw / DonohueFabcar FDSC/0356Accident
36DPLewis / RiceFabcar FDSC/0348Accident
37DPWellman / TremblayMultimatic MDP139Accident
38GTHalsmer / SchmittAcura NSX14Accident
39GTMarks / HandBMW M311Accident
40DPMears, Jr. / BorkowskiMultimatic MDP110Accident

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