BIRMINGHAM, AL: Spirit of Daytona was the story of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Porsche 250 race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, but in the end it wasn’t for the reason that the team had hoped. After qualifying on the pole and dominating the early part of the race, the No. 90 Chevrolet/Coyote DP dropped a cylinder towards the end of driver Antonio Garcia’s stint which forced the team to run the remainder of the race on seven cylinders, finishing 9th.
Upon initial inspection at the Spirit of Daytona shop in Holly Hill, FL, it is believed that a spark plug failed internally which triggered the misfire. The engine has been sent to Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines for further review and inspection.
“Spirit of Daytona had another weekend of extreme highs and extreme lows. Sitting on the pole for the first time in DP competition and having such a dominating car for the first half of the race we were confident that we would finally have the podium finish that has alluded us for the first 2 races of the season,” said team owner/manager Troy Flis. “Through no part of our own or ECR it seems that a 15 dollar part failure took us out of contention. Some say bad things happen in threes and I really hope that is the case for this team.”
The misfire first surfaced on Lap 57 and the team pitted shortly after on Lap 58 for fuel and a driver change. As driver Paul Edwards attempted to leave pit road the car again misfired and stalled. The team later made two more pit stops to try and diagnose the issue before deciding to finish the race on seven cylinders.
Despite falling out of contention in the race’s final hour, Spirit of Daytona still led a race-high 50 laps and gave the No. 01 TELMAX/Chip Ganassi Racing DP its biggest challenge this season.
“Some things are just out of your control. The car was working phenomenal and I’m very encouraged for the rest of the season,” said Edwards, who held on to lead 12 laps despite the misfire. “Even with the cylinder missing we were still able to make competitive lap times. It’s disappointing because we deserved to win today. The wins are going to come; we’ve just got to get this bad luck behind us.”
“The car was perfect,” added Garcia. “I wasn’t even pushing hard. It’s very disappointing.”
Barber Motorsports Park marked the third consecutive race to start the season that the Spirit of Daytona had a car capable of finishing on the podium, but ran into bad luck.
The series returns to racing in one month for the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway on May 14.
“Sometimes these things just happen. I’m just disappointed for the guys because we had a car to win,” Flis said. “We were almost as fast as the leaders on seven cylinders for part of the race. That’s how fast our car was. We’re going to keep digging, that’s all we can do.”