Daytona 24: MSR/Fusion Racing No. 6 Thursday report

Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR slots into seventh row for Rolex 24 At Daytona (Daytona Beach, FL) 26 January 06 -- Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR will start from thirteenth on the grid for the 44th edition of the Rolex 24 At ...

Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR slots into seventh row for Rolex 24 At Daytona

(Daytona Beach, FL) 26 January 06 -- Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR will start from thirteenth on the grid for the 44th edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona after 2003 Champ Car World Series Champion Paul Tracy paced the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course circuit with a 1:45.015-second lap in opening qualifying.

Tracy will be sharing the Graydon Elliott machine with Kenny Wilden, Paul Mears, and Mike Borkowski in the competition debut of Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR.

The qualifying result was a disappointment for the team after having shown so much speed in testing earlier this month. However, a crash in practice for the No.6 Lexus/Riley meant that the Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR crew had to work through the afternoon practice session to get the car fixed in time for the qualifying session. Despite getting the car back in racing order quickly, the missed track time still cost the team a chance to make some final adjustments to the car.

While the car was not tuned to pole-challenging perfection, the Lexus/Riley was still quite competitive, as Tracy's best lap time was less than one second off of the record-setting time set by the pole sitter. The importance of a good qualifying is also diminished by the fact that a winning effort is going to likely require over 2500 miles of flawless running, something that even the famously hard-charging Tracy has firmly in mind.

"The team that wins this race is the one that doesn't have any unscheduled pit stops," said Tracy. "Some of these guys, they might be tempted to make this into a sprint race and try show how fast that are against all the all-stars, but really that's not going to be what wins this race, so while I was hoping we could do a little more in qualifying today, this just isn't what's going to matter as far as winning the race."

One person who knows how to make it through the night in this event is Mike Shank, who himself drove in the 1999 edition of the famed race and is looking to see the Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR make a big impression in their competition debut.

"We didn't get what we wanted out of the qualifying, but of course we had a setback with the crash that put us behind," said Shank. "But this is a long race, and the car is fine now, so we'll use the two practice sessions on Friday to get everything completely sorted and be ready to race come Saturday. The good thing is that this team didn't miss a beat getting ready for qualifying, and the drivers are working really well together, so we should be right there when it counts."

Things will start to count beginning at noon on Saturday, as seventy cars will line up for the green flag in the quest for one of racings most portable trophies-the Rolex watch that adorns the wrist of each race winner.

Speed Channel will be providing over thirteen hours of live coverage, commencing with the race start and following the final hours to the checkered flag.

-msr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mike Borkowski