Daytona Beach, Fla. (1 April 2013) – Spirit of Daytona Racing has had several weeks off from GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition following a month-long hiatus in the schedule but drivers Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook are ready to go as they target a return to the top-step of the podium in the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com Corvette DP this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park for the Porsche 250 and Round 3 of the championship.
It is fair to say that Spirit of Daytona Racing has got something figured out about the smooth and technical track that first hosted GRAND-AM as its inaugural event in 2003.
The Daytona Beach-based squad dominated last year’s Barber event when the team broke through for its first ever Daytona Prototype victory. Westbrook put the No. 90 Corvette on the pole in his first visit to the track, which marked the team’s second consecutive pole result at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Alabama road course. It was also the team’s third consecutive front row start having started from second in the 2010 event.
The No. 90 paced the field in last year’s race for 84 of the 103 race laps with Westbrook and co-driver Antonio Garcia claiming the team’s first victory in Daytona Prototypes.
As strong as that performance was, the team is looking for a repeat with a new driver line up as Westbrook will share the car with 23-year-old Ricky Taylor. While this is Taylor’s first Barber event with the team, he brings his own Barber Park highlight reel to the effort, having been the second youngest DP-class pole winner in Rolex Series history when he claimed the top starting-spot and set a new track record at Barber Motorsports Park in 2010.
Together, the driving duo targets a repeat trip to victory lane on Saturday.
“We always seem to have a great car at Barber so we’re all eager to get going this weekend,” said team owner Troy Flis. “Richard (Westbrook) got up to speed very quickly last year in his first time at the track and Ricky (Taylor) has plenty of experience at Barber too, so we’re anticipating another good result for us this year. Tires tend to be a big issue at Barber so as long as we manage the tires I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Spirit of Daytona Racing opened the 2013 season with a fifth place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona but faced disappointment in Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). After running as high as third, a podium-promising run was cut short when the No. 90 was issued a penalty following contact with a fellow Daytona Prototype. Although the Corvette DP showed strong speed around the new circuit, the valuable time spent in pit lane for the penalty saw Westbrook only able to salvage 11th at the finish.
But Spirit of Daytona Racing has put the disappointing COTA result behind them and is fully focused forward on a strong result at Barber. The team recently spent time testing at New Orleans Motorsports Park with both Taylor and Westbrook in preparation for this weekend’s event.
“The test went well for us,” added Flis. “We were able to work through every element of our testing program we’d hoped to, and Ricky and Richard had some good feedback. We are hoping to consistently be in the hunt for all the races. We just want to get some momentum going in the points and hopefully we can kind of kick start that this weekend at Barber!”
The 2-hour Porsche 250 event begins on Wednesday with a promoter test day. Official practice is set for Thursday and the grid will be set during a 15-minute qualifying session Friday morning. The Porsche 250 begins Saturday at 1:45 PM (ET).
Live timing and scoring can be followed at www.grand-am.com. SPEED will televise the event Sunday, April 7 at 5:30 PM (ET).