TESTING, TESTING, 1 - 2
In a test where anyone could've done almost anything they wanted to cars that didn't have to undergo official technical inspections or likewise gain approvals, it nevertheless appears 12 Daytona Prototypes turned laps that surpassed the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona pole time set by Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac-Riley.
The interesting thing is that all of the times were set with 2007-approved DP bodywork; no one showed up or used the 2008 Daytona Prototype editions yet to be seen by public eyes.
In GT, Farnbacher Loles didn't rest on its laurels, with driver Eric Lux being credited with a 1:51.398 lap (115.046 mph) in the team's No. 87 GT3 Cup Porsche. "Credited," is the key word, because driver-specific indentifying transponders also weren't required as are in actual races.
Despite bearing 26 "stitches" from his heavy Phoenix Craftsman Truck Series crash last weekend, TRG's Andy Lally wasn't exactly lollygagging around in his Porsche and posted a time that was less than an eye-blink's difference at 1:51.418. Lally also had to sacrifice the test's final afternoon, traveling to Homestead-Miami Speedway for NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series race qualifying there.
DOWN TO WORK
The Pirelli test's first day was all about the tire company and race teams being introduced to each other; the second day was devoted to getting really familiar, if not downright friendly, with teams finding one-second or less difference in lap times instead of two- or three-seconds on the first day.
"We got to the point, and I think a lot of other teams, too, where something just finally clicked," Riley-Mathews Racing's Marc Goossens said. "We started working in the right direction and we were able to start working more in the direction of fine-tuning the car's proper set up."
Still, this was a test and only a test: a tiremaker wanted to know if its product performed as was expected and the tire users wanted to learn what to expect from the tire.
Teams pushed so hard that at one point or another every team seemed to pull into the garage and fix something that couldn't be tended on pit lane because "pushing the limits" became the operative nature of the second day.
LAW GETS SEAT TIME!
"Finally!" exclaimed No. 58 Brumos Racing Red Bull Porsche-Riley driver Darren Law after this reporter pointed out he got more-than-usual seat time with co-driver David Donohue's shoulder and arm in a sling.
A running joke now years old, most everyone beats up on poor Donohue with the seat-hog accusation.
Earlier, Law was explaining his car's DIS infield road-course gear selections to Terry Borcheller. Your intrepid reporter, sticking his nose (ear) right smack dab in the middle of their conversation, waited for one of those poignant conversational breaks to ask, "And how many RPM's are you turning at The Kink?"
To which Law responded, "I don't know, I just use the lights to tell me when to do things. I don't use gauges."
"You use 'idiot' lights!?" shot back yours truly, astonished that an exotic race car driver - and a darn good one, at that - would lean on red, yellow and green lights to tell him what and when to do something.
Only moments later this same reporter realized he and a few million others do the same thing daily every day, too, at intersections.
Nevertheless . . .
"We're really pleased with what we accomplished," Law said of his team - one that came within laps of a podium finish at the 2007 Rolex 24 before being punted coming off Daytona's famous tri-oval straight leading into Turn 1.
ONE LEG AT A TIME
That's how everyone is supposed to put on a pair of pants, notwithstanding those seen jumping into their pants just to disprove the saying.
David Donohue, failing to listen very, very closely to his doctor's words, reinjured his at-the-time freshly operated-upon left shoulder - done "to clean up some stuff that's been around awhile," he said - while putting on a pair of pants.
"You just automatically reach down to pull 'em up, you know?" Donohue said in explaining just how he reinjured his shoulder.
"My doctor said, 'I told you not to use it and that meant for anything.' I mean, I didn't think he literally meant 'everything.'"
Set back by what just comes naturally, Donohue wasn't able to drive, much less don his fire suit for the test.
It must've darn near killed him.
The good news is Donohue promises he'll be ready for the Jan. 4-6 Test Days in Daytona - assuming, of course, he doesn't get unnecessarily excited about putting on a pair of pants in the meantime.
(Yes, David, contrary to the above, Darren was terribly sad that you didn't get some seat time car. In a similar vein, the Tooth Fairy really does replace money for teeth.)
Speaking of Brumos . . . five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood - who formerly and calmly sat in his pit-side chair when not driving the team's standard-bearing No. 59 Porsche-Riley - now wears a headset and microphone while he paces around the team's pit stall.
"The Rolex 24 is all about patience," Haywood said. "If you don't make dumb mistakes then you'll put yourself in a position to win. It's as simple as that.
"The trick is to get everyone on the same wavelength, to think about what they are doing and not to take unnecessary, needless risks.
"We'll be doing that in the 59 when the Rolex 24 rolls around. I guarantee that."
What a difference two months make.
At 2007's season-ending Sunchaser 1000 at Utah's Miller Motorsports Park there was one Ford-powered Daytona Prototype - Kevin Doran's No. 77 Doran.
Shank's No. 60 Ford-Riley finished the first day atop the speed charts and pretty well stayed there throughout the two-day test, while the Nos. 61 and 77 DPs both finished in the overall speed charts' top-10.
To put it mildly, Ford Racing director Dan Davis is a pretty happy camper.
"We don't provide monetary incentives like the other manufacturers," Davis said, "So when someone pays what we demand for an engine program we believe it's a real testament as to the quality of our product."
"We're really proud to be a part of these high-quality DP programs and I just think it's got all the makings for being a pretty good year for Ford," Davis cautiously offered.
IN CASE YOU WONDERED
Rejoining Krohn Racing for the 2008 season is that Braun fellow. Only this Braun is "Jeff," father of Roush Racing's Colin Braun - who, depending on point of view, for two Rolex Series seasons was either The Wunderkind or The Villain.
Want to know how highly Colin Braun rates with Roush Racing? I can't tell you beyond "darn good," but keep tuning in.
However, no such informational restraint presently exists regarding Colin's younger, collegiate-freshman brother Travis. He's on a winning streak, too, for his writing abilities.
Gee, just think where these two would be if only they had intelligence, talent, drive and ambition.
At the Pirelli test the Rolex Series' first Daytona Prototype driving champion and 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall co-champion Terry Borcheller's helmet visor carried a simple, taped-on message throughout: "For Hire."
It shouldn't last long.
THE ROLEX 24
According to those who take the odd (perhaps, "perverse") pleasure in extrapolating numbers, over the course of two days this week more than 24,600 miles were compiled by 40-some-odd race cars and, give or take, 120 drivers over the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course in pursuit of nothing more than seat and track time in a pretty doggone remote race track (when compared to, say, Dodge, Kansas) that's tucked about one-third of the way down the Florida peninsula.
No prize money was immediately at stake; no trophy.
Fate willing, eight Fridays from the end of Thursday's test will see those forty-some-odd cars return and, probably, at least half-again as many more cars for three days of high-RPMs, shifting gears and, sometimes, crunching metal over that same Daytona track.
Still, no prize money will immediately be at stake; no trophy.
Then, in another three Fridays plus one day, a green flag will fly and thousands of people - from team members to their sponsors - will hope to be among one of only two teams - one from DP and one from GT - who will be able to claim victory in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Think about it: thousands of people seeking; only two teams achieving one of motorsports' most coveted trophies.
Indy 500 winners; Formula One winners; Daytona 500 winners; Le Mans winners and, yes, Rolex 24 winners all heading for a place called "Daytona."
-DC Williams exclusively for Motorsports.com