2011 marked the twelfth season for the Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am). As was the tradition, the twelve-race season opened at Daytona with the Rolex 24. There were some changes to the 2011 schedule Ė the addition of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, after not being included in 2010 and Road America returned after a nine-year absence. Gone in 2011, were Miller Motorsports Park and the second Daytona event. Most races were 2-hour and 45-minutes in length - the major exceptions were the 24-hour event at Daytona and the Sahlenís Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

Probably the biggest news in 2011 was Continental Tire becoming the official tire supplier for Grand Am. Continental also became the title sponsor for Grand Amís street stock series.

Teams and drivers competed in the Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring for class honours:

  • Daytona Prototype (DP) Ė These sports racing cars were designed to compete in the Grand Am series. The concept of an affordable prototype for privateer teams was introduced in 2003. Rules were created so that the cars could be produced for less than $400,000. Additionally, the prototypes had to be approved by the series and new cars could not be introduced for 5-years. The flat-bottomed, closed cockpit prototype was constructed with a complete frame and a mid-engine location. The cars were powered by motors from production cars. Manufacturers providing engines included: Chevrolet, Porsche, Ford and BMW. The 2008 season saw the introduction of the Generation 2 Daytona Prototypes.
  • Grand Touring (GT) Ė After a number of seasons with multiple GT classes a single category was introduced in 2005. The GT division was for production-based vehicles. Cars racing in this group included the: Porsche GT3 Cup, Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, BMW M3 and Mazda RX-8. To equalize performance among the different brands, rules were implemented that included adjusting the vehicleís weight, limiting tire size and engine RPMs.

This was the 30th running of the Sahlenís Six Hours of The Glen and round six for the 2011 Grand Am Sports Car Series. It was a challenging race for competitors as there were drastic swings in the weather. The event started under heavy rain which eventually gave way to sun and high humidity.

Steady rain at the beginning of the six hours made conditions very tough for the drivers. Leading the field through corner two on the first last is the pole-sitter, Ricky Taylor in the SunTrust Racing Dallara DP01. Immediately, behind Taylor is the Coyote driven by Antonio Garcia. Further back are the third and fourth quickest qualifiers - Scott Pruett and Alex Gurney.
In the previous seven Sahlenís Six-Hour events, the SunTrust team has finished on the podium six times but never won the race. This time they had reason to be optimistic. Ricky Taylor and his co-driver Max Angelelli were looking for the second consecutive win after claiming a victory the previous weekend. Taylor got off to a good start by recording the fastest time in qualifying. The team dominated the contest - leading 128 of 174 laps and finally won.
The defending race winners, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas were looking for their four consecutive Sahlenís Six Hours of The Glen win. In qualifying, Pruett set the third quickest time driving the BMW-powered Riley MK XX. As expected, the Ganassi pair was in contention the entire race. With just 15-minutes remaining in the event the final caution came out. Pruett was in second place but could not match Taylorís pace and finished in the runner-up position.
A Porsche topped the Grand Touring qualifying sheet in last yearís event but the best result in 2011 was seventh by the No. 59 Brumos entry. The Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Leh Keen and Andrew Davis started fifteenth overall. The teamís race strategy allowed Keen and Davis to move into the lead. The duo was also helped, in the final hour, by a full-course yellow that allowed Davis to stop for a splash of gas and retain the lead. This was their first win of the season.
Not to be outdone by his older brother, Jordan Taylor qualified on the pole for the Grand Touring division. Taylor shared the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT.R with Bill Lester and guest driver, Tommy Milner. A late race caution allowed the first place Brumos Porsche to stop for fuel and keep the lead. Without this yellow flag period, the trio may have won the event. They finished second Ė 33.805-seconds behind the class winners.
2007 Sahlenís Six Hours of The Glen winners, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were gridded fourth in the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley MK XX. During the race, Gurney and Fogarty were not as quick as the first and second place cars but they stayed on the lead lap. At the checkered flag, the duo was in third place Ė 8.117-seconds behind the winning SunTrust car.
Gridded nineteenth overall and tenth in Grand Touring was the No. 69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 shared by Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal and Guy Cosmo. At Lime Rock the previous weekend, Assentato was pushed off course on the opening lap and the team finished tenth. The trio was hoping to turn things around at Watkins Glen and that they did. Unfortunately, a late race caution prevented them from challenging for the win and they finished third.
Sharing the outside of the Grand Touring front row were Robin Liddell and Ronnie Bremer. Liddell missed winning the pole in the Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R by just 0.250-seconds. The previous weekend at Lime Rock, Liddell and co-driver, Jan Magnussen started from the pole and won. The teamís luck would change at The Glen. On lap-5, the Camaro was damaged in an incident. The team only completed twenty-eight laps.
Jon Pew and his co-driver, Oswaldo Negri started from the fourth row in the seventh grid position. Pew and Negri were filled with confidence after finishing in the runner-up spot at Lime Rock. During the race, the two drivers ran a consistent pace. With two hours remaining in the contest, a broken throttle return spring caused the gas pedal to stick but the duo stayed on the lead lap and finished fourth.
Antonio Garcia performed the qualifying duties for the Spirit of Daytona Coyote CC/09. And, Garcia did not disappoint as he qualified second Ė giving the team its fourth front-row start of the season. He shared the Chevrolet-powered Coyote with Paul Edwards. In difficult conditions, Garcia led the first lap but the duo settled into the fourth position. A transmission problem late in the race caused the team to finish eighth in class.
The front of the Grand Touring grid was populated with Chevrolet Camaros. Oliver Gavin qualified the Banner Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT.R third. Gavin shared the Camaro with Mike Skeen and Gunter Schaldach. The team felt that they were competitive but some poorly timed pit stops and an overheating transmission eliminated their chance of winning. At the checkered flag, they were tenth overall and fourth in Grand Touring.
The quickest Mazda RX-8 was the Team Sahlen entry shared by Wayne Nonnamaker and Memo Gidley. Nonnamaker was fastest in the final practice session but slipped to fourth during qualifying. He and Gidley stayed with the leaders during the race and led the Grand Touring division at the mid-point of the contest. At the conclusion of the event, they were thirteenth overall and seventh in class.

1DPAngelelli / TaylorDallara DP01 Chevrolet174-
2DPPruett / RojasRiley MK XX BMW174-
3DPGurney / FogartyRiley MK XX Chevrolet174-
4DPPew / NegriRiley MK XX Ford174-
5DPLaw / Donohue / FrisselleRiley MK XI Porsche174-
6DPFrisselle / Bell / RichardDallara DP01 Ford173-
7GTKeen / DavisPorsche GT3 Cup165-
8GTTaylor / Lester / MilnerChevrolet Camaro GT.R164-
9GTAssentato / Segal / CosmoMazda RX-8164-
10GTSkeen / Schaldach / GavinChevrolet Camaro GT.R164-
11GTPotter / Stanton / SellersPorsche GT3 Cup164-
12GTSaid / CurranChevrolet Corvette163-
13GTNonnamaker / GidleyMazda RX-8163-
14GTGue / CameronMazda RX-8163-
15GTFoster / Dempsey / EspenlaubMazda RX-8163-
16GTEdwards / Tremblay / BomaritoMazda RX-8161-
17DPFrance / Barbosa / BorchellerRiley MK XI Porsche155-
18GTAuberlen / Hand / Dalla LanaBMW M3153Did Not Finish
19GTLux / MarsalMazda RX-8150-
20DPGarcia / EdwardsCoyote CC/09 Chevrolet135Transmission
21GTNastasi / James / MaxwellFord Mustang99Suspension
22GTNonnamaker / NonnamakerMazda RX-889Did Not Finish
23GTLiddell / Bremer / MagnussenChevrolet Camaro GT.R28Accident
24GTPumpelly / Bertheau / EversleyPorsche GT3 Cup26Did Not Finish
25GTSahlen / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / NonnamakerMazda RX-823Mechanical
26DPForest / Dalziel / BraunRiley MK XX Ford4Accident

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