Daytona Beach, FL: It should come as no surprise that Spirit of Daytona Racing is really looking forward to their return to Barber Motorsports Park. While the Birmingham track may be famous for its scenic beauty and park-like setting, the Daytona Beach based team is partial to it for an entirely different reason. Last year in mid-season, Spirit of Daytona Racing achieved their best finish of 2009 at Barber, narrowly missing the podium with a 4th place finish. That result was also the top finish for a Porsche-powered DP entry in the Porsche-sponsored Barber race.
Last season the GRAND-AM Rolex SportsCar Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16visited Barber in its traditional midsummer time slot, following the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona. That Daytona race was a turning point for Spirit of Daytona, marking their team’s transition from the #09 Porsche Coyote to their #90 car, which featured the new Coyote chassis and a new look. Daytona was the only race to see both Spirit of Daytona cars sharing the track, with newly signed full-time drivers Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia taking the #90 out for its first race. Plans called for the #09 to be retired following Daytona, but damage to the #90 in that race allowed little time for repair before the series traveled to Birmingham, so the #09 was called back into service for one more race.
The Spirit of Daytona team overcame that and other challenges en route to what would be not only their best season finish, but the best finish in their team’s DP history. In addition to the unplanned car substitution, the event marked Buddy Rice’s racing debut at Barber. Having focused most of his Rolex Series career in endurance events, he set out to learn the new track and how the competition differed in a sprint race. Despite limited seat time he ran a strong race, as did Antonio Garcia. Leading the race briefly during his stint, Garcia admits still wondering how much better their newer car may have finished.
This year, Spirit of Daytona will be bringing their #90 to Barber after taking advantage of a short break following the Homestead race to get in a bit of extra testing. Although the #90 Porsche V-8 Coyote may look a bit different at Barber than how it has previously appeared in 2010, it is the same car underneath some new colors. In a nod to the team’s history, the new livery incorporates an element of other past designs, blending the traditional Spirit of Daytona blue and black with their most recent bright yellow for an updated and eye-catching look.
This season’s adjustment to the schedule translates into many advantages for the Rolex Series, as more moderate temperatures will prove much easier for the teams as well as the cars. Recent upgrades made to the track should also make this year’s race safer, faster, and more exciting for all. Following their strong showing at the most recent race in Homestead and given their proven ability to run up front at Barber, the Spirit of Daytona team is confident of continued improvement and looks forward to seeing the #90 Porsche Coyote defend their frontrunner status in this year’s Porsche 250.
Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, will host the Porsche 250 on April 10th, 2010. The 2.75 hour event will begin at 1:30 PM ET and is scheduled for live broadcast on SPEED TV.