Daytona Beach, FL: Back-to-back racing weekends always require a great degree of advance preparation and planning, but this season’s Lime Rock-to-Watkins Glen competitions were particularly challenging for teams in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. With just five days separating those races, leaving the first event with the car intact was crucial. Before the dust had settled at Lime Rock, the Spirit of Daytona team’s focus had shifted to the upcoming six hour race. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen marks the season’s only endurance competition outside the season-opener Rolex 24 at Daytona and thus presents its own set of challenges.
Although 2010 is still a year of development for the Spirit of Daytona team, they are in the midst of their most successful season in years. The #90 Porsche Coyote has proven its speed in recent races and the team hopes the Six Hours of the Glen will be their season’s breakthrough race. While many Rolex Series teams recruited an additional driver for their Watkins Glen lineup, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia are happy to get the extra seat time and confident their familiarity with their full-time car will be a plus for Spirit of Daytona’s chances.
Buddy Rice is pleased to see the #90 Porsche V-8 Coyote so competitive on a consistent basis. He acknowledges a steep learning curve this season for co-driver Garcia and himself, as they make their first visit to several courses that host Rolex Series competition. He praised the team, saying, “Spirit of Daytona has worked very hard on the chassis with Coyote and Pratt & Miller as well as working with the Lozano Brothers to get the V-8 Porsche based engine up to speed and performing consistently.” For the challenges of a six hour race, Rice feels preparation is the key. “The prep work going into this race is a bit different this year because of the Lime Rock race preceding it.
We are treating it no differently than we would a 24 hour race. We had a really fast car at Lime Rock and the team unloaded with a good car. Antonio did a great job qualifying and in his stint, but there are still a lot of lessons left to learn. It’s disappointing to have a fast car and not get the result we deserve, but this is part of developing a new car, a new engine and a new team. There will be issues, but we are going to go through tough times to get to the good times, so we’ll just keep focusing on what we have and getting ready for Watkins Glen. We are going to have a fast car there and we will have more room to run, so I believe that we will do well.”
Antonio Garcia described the Lime Rock race as “half-good”. He started out by putting the Spirit of Daytona on the front row in qualifying, again narrowly missing pole position. Despite a tech infraction that put them to the back of the pack for the start, strategy worked perfectly for the team early on and saw Garcia hold the lead for 30 laps before unforeseeable mishaps dropped them back in position. Garcia explained the strategy that put him in the lead, saying, “At the first yellow we pitted, because we were already far behind. After that I really was pushing hard and I knew the goal was to pass everybody who was following our same strategy. We managed to do that and in less than 30 minutes I moved up to 4th, knowing the three cars in front of us hadn’t pitted yet. As soon as they went in when the 45 minute limit was up, I was in the lead. We just need to work on analyzing everything before the Glen race to make sure everything is fine. We hope to improve on our long run a bit and be able to see a great finish.”
Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen will take place on Saturday, June 5th. The race will start at 2:00 PM ET with the first two hours covered live on SPEED TV. The broadcast will resume at 6:00 PM ET with coverage through the conclusion of the race.