HOMESTEAD, FL: For the 2nd consecutive race, Spirit of Daytona showed that it’s a team on the brink of becoming a weekly contender for podium finishes, but for the second time in two races the No. 90 Chevrolet/Coyote ended the weekend wrecked and in the garage.
With just over forty minutes remaining in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Spirit of Daytona and driver Antonio Garcia were in prime position to earn their first podium finish of the season. One of the top three cars with fresh tires on a weekend where tire wear was critical, Garcia made a move on the No. 60 who was on older tires for fourth position. The two drivers made contact in Turn 2 which broke the rear suspension on the No. 90 not allowing Garcia to continue, resulting in an 11th place finish. The No. 60 DP was later black flagged for the incident.
“I don’t really know what happened. Everything we could do with our strategy we did perfectly. I saw that the No. 60 was slow and as the No. 01 and No. 10 made their move I did as well. I was almost clear and then he turned into me twice,” said Garcia of the spin. “It’s a shame because this Chevrolet was running perfect. We were looking at a podium and a second-place finish and then something like that happens and it’s all taken from you.”
The Lap 89 crash abruptly ended what had been a near perfect weekend for Spirit of Daytona. In an effort to give driver Paul Edwards more seat time, the team opted to have Edwards practice and qualify the car and he responded by posting the fastest time in the weekend’s second practice session and later qualified the car third. He started the race and gave way to Garcia at the 1 hour 37 minute mark running 3rd.
“The car has potential and we’ve got good things coming. I really like the development of where this car is headed and the tracks we’re going to,” Edwards said after the race. “One thing I love about this team is their attitude. They’ve already moved forward from what happened. We’ll come back strong and I think everybody expects a victory at Barber (Motorsports Park).
While Spirit of Daytona has made great strides early in the season towards finishing on the podium, with it comes tougher competition and often times more contact, something team owner/manager Troy Flis says will be a crucial fix before the series returns to Barber in one month. In both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Grand Prix of Miami the team broke the same suspension part as a result of contact during the race.
“We’re excited we ran well up until the end there. Part of the learning curve with the new car now that we’re running up front is that it has to be able to take hits and keep going,” he admitted. “We definitely had a car for the podium which is a good sign considering Homestead isn’t one of our better tracks, but it would have been nice to have a proper finish out of it.”
Spirit of Daytona returns to the track on April 9 as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series heads to Barber Motorsports Park for the Porsche 250. The race can be seen April 10 on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET.