DC's whiling away the hours

WHILING AWAY TO THE ROLEX 24 WARM-UP Here's a little warm-up for your brain before we start getting too deep herein. There are 1,440 minutes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona - assuming one nails the checkered flag precisely at the 24:00:00.0 ...


WHILING AWAY TO THE ROLEX 24


WARM-UP

Here's a little warm-up for your brain before we start getting too deep herein.

There are 1,440 minutes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona - assuming one nails the checkered flag precisely at the 24:00:00.0 mark.

Based on officially recorded 2007 green-flag to checkered-flag race times, standing apart from the rest of the schedule the Rolex 24 At Daytona alone is equal to 59-percent of the time teams spent racing during 2007's 14-race schedule.

Throw out the Rolex Series' 2007 season's two other races of 'enduring' quality - the Sahlen's Six Hours Of The Glen and The Sunchaser 1000 - and make the assumption that a particular race team completed the Rolex 24 as well as the rest of the 2007 season's "short" races, that team would've spent 88-percent of its racing season alone competing in the Rolex 24.

Put yet another way: excluding the schedule's three endurance races, the 11 remaining Rolex Series' 2007 races totaled 27 hours, 13 minutes.

Further, the above doesn't begin to reconcile the time spent by teams annually testing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona - which could approach 60-on-track hours already spent in Daytona.

Though the championship points awarded for the Rolex 24 may be the same as other races (some have unsuccessfully argued the award should be greater) the importance of those points can't be understated.

Case in point: John Fogarty and Alex Gurney, who in the 2007 Rolex 24 finished 46th overall (22nd in class), then had to win an unprecedented seven races to capture the 2007 Daytona Prototype driving championship by a whopping two (2) points ahead of second-place Scott Pruett, who ironically won the 2007 Rolex 24.

MIND-BLOWING

Having the fastest car in the world and/or greatest driving skills combined still may not be enough to win a race.

Mike Colucci (Brumos Racing) has won his fair share of sportscar races and championships without even getting on the racetrack (check out Colucci's record at http://www.mcrracing.com/resume.htm).

"Drivers, crew chiefs, owners, team members psych each other all the time," Colucci said. "Anything you can do to get the upper hand is fair game."

Colucci cited a time he was talking with another well-credentialed crew chief (the name of which is purposefully withheld herein), telling his garage rival that Colucci's engine of the time was getting more revs on up-shifts with the same engine and drive-train configuration.

The "other guy" actually hears: "more revs faster car more wins more money."

"Well, of course, he headed straight for (the engine manufacturer) who told him it wasn't true," Colucci said. "But you know, in the back of his (the competing crew chief's) mind, that I would tell him that is gnawing him one way or another. And that's what you want to do in the first place."

MOVIN' ON UP

Joining NASCAR-associated Michael Waltrip Racing is Michael McDowell, 23, who Rolex Series followers will remember as being fast, talented and, some might say, a precursor to Colin Braun.

If one were to compile a "Bad Boys of Grand-Am" album, McDowell and Braun, for now, would likely be included therein (time, like the eons I've spent on Earth, has a way of modifying perspectives).

First of all, let it be known that that these two "ruffians" really weren't all that bad in the grand scheme of things. After all, we're not talking serial killer or even recidivist grand-theft auto types, here.

They just happened to get on the wrong side of Grand Am's Mark Raffauf and maybe a couple of other drivers (so, too, did Dale Earnhardt, BTW). (Well, not in Grand Am. Earnhardt, that is. But over in NASCAR, Earnhardt was subjected to "The Penalty Box" more than any other driver, I do believe).

Still, in a series that began with considerable door-banging but started thinking the worse of it when team accountants went apoplectic, McDowell showed up just about the time when door-banging started becoming a no-no.

Though at the end of virtually every DP race today one can discern black-rubber "doughnuts" on many doors, they don't even come close to the door-jarring bangs like the jousting between Max Papis vs. Jan Magnussen in the 2004 Miami race or David Donohue and Terry Borcheller under the lights in Phoenix the year before, or yet still others.

Teamed in 2005 with co-driver Memo Gidley in the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype, McDowell would bang doors one too many times, eventually drawing his one-race suspension, according to Grand Am, "following avoidable contact with defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett" in a late-race restart at Phoenix International Raceway (man, it was stifling hot at that race) and was thus suspended for the late-season Watkins Glen race whilst in the thick of a top-five championship points battle.

In only his third DP race, Michael Valiante would serve as McDowell's stand-in as Gidley's co-driver at The Glen, in which the two scored a 5th-place finish.

Two races later at the Rolex Series' inaugural Mexico City race - the 2005 Rolex Series finale - McDowell and Gidley teamed for Finlay Motorsports' (and the Brothers Cameron) first DP victory.

However, McDowell was already on his way to other race series where guys are paid to bang out expected dents (admittedly a difficult process with carbon fiber) that were put there by guys paid to dent 'em.

Set for a ride in the Jan. 26-27 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Fabcar-Porsche (Cayenne), during test days McDowell mostly talked about the ups and downs of making a cultural transition from sportycars to stockcars. His maturity is remarkable but no different than what others at the same age have previously achieved (been there; done that myself).

Heading now for Michael Waltrip's troubled NASCAR operation (and I really don't like writing that, but a spade is a spade), McDowell's heading for that team is probably the right thing happening at the right time for both driver and team owner.

There's a lot to be said for those who emerge on the other side of adversity instead of succumbing to altogether giving up.

Sometimes it just seems easier to cut and run.

But giving up just isn't something that goes hand-in-hand with being a champion - something certainly within the reach of both McDowell and Michael Waltrip Racing.

One thing's for sure, should McDowell someday cop a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, it's doubtful the accompanying congratulatory and laudatory Grand Am news release will say a thing about "suspension."

OH, YES, THE NEW CAR/S

Actually, depending on perspective and one's counting ability, somewhere between one and three new DPs should be announced over the next couple or three weeks.

Unfortunately, this journalist did a couple of the "promise not to tell; cross my heart and hope to die" things so specifics will be lacking here. However, such lack of specifics gives everyone a chance to speculate a little.

Already on order, another Dallara will become a second car that will join an already announced Dallara team and, quite probably, at the season's second stop at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The one, already signed DP championship-caliber driver is in a Rolex 24 effort (and a good one at that) so it's quite probable he'll rack up some decent-to-great points heading into the other ride.

A hunt for the second driver is in the works and of which at least two candidates likewise already have one-off rides in the Rolex 24. Really, this has the makings for a most excellent team (to paraphrase "Billy" Shakespeare).

You'll not have to wait but one more week for the official announcement of a second and/or third car/s team. Crawford will be the car of choice and Pontiac the power.

By the way, the new Gen-2 Crawford looks very different from the Gen-1. One will be hard pressed to distinguish it by relying solely on past styling cues.

Back to the new team . . . it's gonna knock some socks off. I'll guarantee it. Details will come during a media "event" on Monday, Jan. 21.

Okay, a hint but only just one: think "three."

Later.
    DC Williams - Exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Michael Waltrip , Alex Gurney , Jan Magnussen , Memo Gidley , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Colin Braun , Michael Valiante , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Michael McDowell
Teams Williams , Michael Waltrip Racing