Daytona 24: Ford hour eight notes

Both Andrew Ranger and Colin Braun were able to work their way up to the front of the pack and lead laps in their first stints at the 24-Hour Rolex Series race at Daytona. At the eight-hour mark, the AIM team came in for a driver change with Mark...

Both Andrew Ranger and Colin Braun were able to work their way up to the front of the pack and lead laps in their first stints at the 24-Hour Rolex Series race at Daytona. At the eight-hour mark, the AIM team came in for a driver change with Mark Wilkins getting out of his second stint and Brian Frisselle making his second appearance behind the wheel of the Roush-Yates powered No. 61 Ford Riley Prototype.

ADREW RANGER -- 61 -- AIM Autosport

(Running 1st when he got out of the car) "I think the car was pretty good actually at the beginning with the braking; the car was a little tight. I had a great fight with Juan Pablo Montoya during my run and the guys did a great job, the car is perfect after a couple of laps and I'm very happy about that."

HERE AT YOUR FIRST 24 AND BEING THE LEADER THROUGH YOUR FIRST STINT HAS GOT TO FEEL GOOD. "Yes, you know it is a little bit crazy with a lot of traffic out on the track, and you need to pass on the right and the left to draft somebody, but it's great and I'm having a lot of fun. The car worked very good and I'm very happy about that. The guys with AIM Autosport and Ford have done a good job and I will wait another four hours and go back and try [again]."

WHAT IS YOUR PLANNED SCHEDULE? "I am the third driver and I'll wait after the other guys, wait about two hours -- it's got to be two hours and I think I will wait four or six hours right now. Actually I'm very happy and it's a good feeling just to be at the track."

LAST YEAR THERE WERE 15 LEADERS TOTAL LAST YEAR AND THROUGH THREE AND A HALF HOURS WE'RE AT 12 OR 13. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? "Well I think first of all when there are a lot of good teams like that it's a lot of cars going very, very fast and the moment where you change drivers, a lot of people are passing. I think it's great to be with AIM Autosport and the car works very good. There are a lot of good drivers [here] like Juan Pablo and Graham Rahal and that's why the lead has changed a lot. There are so many good drivers on the track."

COLIN BRAUN -- 61 -- AIM Autosport

(Running in 1st when he got out of the car) "It's been quite a good day so far. The AIM car is really good. Mark [Wilkins] is out there right now and it's pretty dry now but my first stint was completely dry and it went quite good, I think we led a big majority of that and got a good restart there. We cut through traffic pretty good. We had a little bit of a fuel pressure issue early, so when we came in when it started to rain, or before it started to rain, when we had that last yellow, the Ford people jumped over the wall and looked at what we had going on and that cost us a few spots and then came back up to seventh or eighth. Then after that it started to rain and we were under caution still so we decided to come down pit lane and put rain tires on, we didn't want to have any chance of making a mistake there being so early in the race. We kept digging at it and I think we came out seventh or eighth and worked back up to the lead again. The car is really good. The guys have done a really good job and hopefully that fuel pressure issue stays away. Right now we're just hoping for the best."

RIGHT THE NOW THE CAR PRETTY CLEAN? NO MARKS ON IT? "Yeah, so far the car is totally clean. I haven't hit anybody, which is probably a first for me in a long time, but it's been really good. I think Mark [Wilkins], Brian [Frisselle] and Andrew [Ranger] have all done a heck of a job. Hopefully that Ford engine keeps digging, it's been awesome the have in the rain. We are so fast in the straightaways and I think that's what has helped us so much in the rain, it's really driveable and a great engine. I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and keeping our fingers crossed that that fuel pressure issue stays away.."

YOU'VE WON RACES IN GRAND-AM BEFORE, BUT IS LEADING HERE FOR A LONG TIME EXCITING FOR YOU? "Obviously running in the lead is always exciting, but when you look at it I think that there are like 17 hours left. I wish that it was a six hour race and we could have been done by now, but that's what makes this race so cool. Certainly out there leading is a good feeling, but with so many things going on and so many laps left, all of us are just focused on going through traffic and trying to stay on the race track and keep that AIM car going forward."

***

The No. 6 and 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley Daytona Prototypes both sit within the top 10 on the leader board with A.J. Allmendinger piloting the No. 6 and Mark Patterson just finishing his stint behind the wheel of the No. 60. Allmendinger currently leads the field going into hour nine of the race.

MARK PATERSON -- 60 -- Michael Shank Racing

(Running in sixth when he got out of the car) -- "Changing conditions are a challenge. It's a dry track with little patches around that are wet, so you can spin it very, very easily. Under a yellow flag the tires go down, the Pirelli's are great, but they're not good when they're cold. The cars are squirming all over the place. We had great, great strength, I got passed coming out of the Bus Stop, but by turn one I caught the Pontiac again and was able to pass it. The car is fantastic on the straightaways, we've got fantastic torque and grip. We had a problem with our splitter that made the car pretty unstable, and we had to come in and check it out, so unfortunately I had a short stint. I think right now we're sitting sixth or eighth, so not a bad stop with still a lot of racing left."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Michael Shank Racing