Daytona Beach, FL: Spirit of Daytona traveled west to scenic Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, for their first competition there since 2007, but the entire team was confident that they could deliver a strong finish to what had already been a record-breaking season. After focusing primarily on development the last two years, in 2010 the team has seen their hard work pay off, earning their historic first DP podium. Heading into the finale at Miller, the #90 Spirit of Daytona Porsche V-8 Coyote was in 6th place in team points, having earned 10 top tens and 4 top fives for the year.
Realizing the challenges ahead, the team and drivers worked on familiarizing themselves quickly with the track. Progress was made throughout the practice sessions as Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia searched for the optimal setup for the #90 on the unique Miller course. Garcia closed out the qualifying session by delivering a 5th place spot on the starting grid for the next day’s race. Describing the race as a difficult one for the Spirit of Daytona, Garcia said, “It was probably the hardest race we had all year. We struggled with the car at the beginning of every stint on cold tires.
In practice and qualifying, the car was pretty good. Even without having a lot of track time or previous experience on this track, we were able to run with the top four or five guys. But during the race, we had a difficult time keeping up that pace. I tried my best and feel that I was able to do solid stint. I was really trying to take care of the tires because I ran on them for about and hour and a half after we pitted for the mandatory 45-minute mark. We weren’t as fast as the lead cars, but we kept the car in a position that could have put us in line for a 5th or 6th place finish.
Speedwise, we weren’t really able to match the frontrunners and we had some other issues that put us a little towards the back, but we weren’t in a bad position. Buddy got in the car under a yellow flag, and I know he had a hard time on the cold tires on those first laps. Toward the end in his stint everyone became really aggressive and is was just not possible to gain much ground.”
Buddy Rice closed out the race and brought the Spirit of Daytona #90 home in 8th place, highest of the Porsche DP entries in the race. The result extended their streak of consecutive top ten finishes to 11 of the 12 race season and placed the team 8th in Team Points for the season, trailing the two teams tied for 6th place by only one point.
Antonio Garcia summed up his first year as a full-time Spirit of Daytona driver, saying, “Now the season is over – this year we were mostly focusing on next year’s championship, so we need to analyze everything we have learned this year and work as hard as we can this winter to have a better starting point in January and from that point on. We made a good showing in several races in 2010 and I feel that we have a very good chance in 2011 to really come out on top.” The next event on the schedule for GRAND-AM Rolex Series teams is testing for the new Continental Tires. The test days will be held at VIR on October 19th -20th.
The Spirit of Daytona team will be hard at work in the meantime preparing for the exciting new changes ahead for the upcoming season.