Austin, Texas (2 March 2013) –Spirit of Daytona Racing was back in action this weekend, taking part in the big GRAND-AM debut event at the Circuit of the Americas for round 2 of the 2013 Rolex Sports Car Series Championship.
Drivers Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor partnered in the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com Corvette DP as the duo looked to build on the team’s fifth place finish in the season opener with a strong result in the first sprint race of the GRAND-AM season.
The team looked to be on target with that goal after Taylor qualified the car fifth on Friday, even though the young multi-race winner lamented that he had thought he left a little bit on the table and the car was capable of even more than that. Taylor was on his way to making up for that as he ran in third in the early going of the race segments. An adjustment on an early pit stop also paid dividends as the track continued to change, lap after lap.
“During the second stint we made a little change in tire pressures and the car was excellent,” said Taylor. “I think we had a car that could have won. It was a lot of fun and some close racing today. It was a good show for these fans in Texas so hopefully we won some new fans, even if we didn’t win this race. Now, on to Barber!”
Taylor kept the car in the top seven before turning the car over to Westbrook during a green flag pit stop. Westbrook fought from 12th to 8th place, but the tough battleground saw one more setback as contact with a fellow DP saw the No. 90 Corvette DP called to the car back to the pits for a penalty, ending a shot at a top ten finish. The result was a frustrating one for Westbrook, although he salvaged the best finish he could fight for and brought the car home 11th at the line.
“It was rubbish day in the office really and we’ll look forward to the next race,” offered Westbrook. “The good thing was that we had a good race car. Some days you win and some days you don’t. We got a penalty that was my mistake. I’m really sorry for Ozz (Negri) – I hit him in the back in a corner that he was really struggling in and I should have given him more space –so very sorry to Ozz. We’ll go and focus on Barber and hope to do what we did there last year.”
“It was an up and down day for us,” said team owner Troy Flis. “I think we had a really good car and we had good pace. In the beginning with the sun out, we struggled a little bit but we made an aero change on our first pit stop with Ricky (Taylor) which he made a really good call on and gave some good information back. So that was good. I’m happy that we had a good run.I think we got some good television time for Visit Florida, GoPro and Chevrolet but all in all it was just an okay day. It wasn’t the points day we wanted.”
The COTA debut event is one that will surely see the Rolex Series the topic of many conversations in Austin after a thrilling race that was hard fought from start to finish.
“I think it’s just that the competition is so stout in this series that it’s pretty amazing that you can have that many cars on top of each other for three hours,” said Flis. “Mechanically, the car ran really good – I think at the end of the race we were a top-three car still. I think we just put ourselves in some bad positions so we have to work better at that. We’ll hopefully go do a little testing and work on some things to make it a little quicker.”
While the day didn’t provide the results the team was hoping for, the provisional points has Spirit of Daytona sitting sixth in the points and will look to use that as a foundation for the upcoming race at Barber Motorsports Park, where the team took a big victory in 2012.