Daytona 24: TRG Pontiac race report

TRG GTO.Rs Finish Second and Thirteenth at Daytona Daytona Beach, Florida -- TRG's GTO.Rs finished second and 13th in GT in the 44th Grand American Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Reserve Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona today. In their...

TRG GTO.Rs Finish Second and Thirteenth at Daytona

Daytona Beach, Florida -- TRG's GTO.Rs finished second and 13th in GT in the 44th Grand American Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Reserve Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona today.

In their first 24 hour endurance race, the GTO.Rs have earned a reputation as a package to be reckoned with over 24 hours. Both the number 64 and 65 GTO.Rs led the race.

The number 65 car driven by Andy Lally, Johnny "Connell, Marc Bunting and RJ Valentine went to the lead of the GT race by 5:00 p.m. on lap 140 with their teammates in the number 64 car following closely. In the ensuing pit stops, the 64 car was able to take over the lead.

Three hours after Kelly Collins took the lead, he had a spin due a suspension issue that started in the braking zone of turn one and ended in the grass just short of the tire wall. This rear suspension issue caused the team to make repairs in the garage and going some 20 laps down. The race became a points race for the 64 crew with the look to a season ending championship.

When the 64 fell back the 65 drivers took up the fight at the front. On the strength of strong performances by Andy Lally and Johnny "Connell and with excellent support from Marc Bunting and RJ Valentine, the team was locked in a battle with the winning Porsche right up to the end of the race. Twenty-four hours was just not enough time to run down the eventual winners.

Andy Lally, #65/TRG/F1 Air/Alpine Bagel/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "I've finished second here and I have won here, I like the latter better. We were able to lead and we had a really good TRG prepared car. The GT pace was pretty fast, but we were able to run at the front in the most competitive field of the year."

Marc Bunting, #65/TRG/F1 Air/Alpine Bagel/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "The car was good, we had a few small hiccups. I was able to run good lap times and made no real errors. It is a good points start for us and we will go to Mexico where we were strong last year."

RJ Valentine, #65/TRG/F1 Air/Alpine Bagel/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R,  "I
had a good weekend.  Half of the race was a great battle between our car
and the 36.  Johnny and Andy did a great job and the team put a great car
under us.  Daytona is fun and really fun when you run at the front."

Johnny "Connell, #65/TRG/F1 Air/Alpine Bagel/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "The traffic was real dicey. We were having a great battle with the Porsche, Andy and I did everything we could to try and get back up to the front. They ran a good race. The car is good, but in 24 hour races you have to have things go your way."

Paul Edwards, #64/TRG/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "The car went right back to being near perfect after Kelly's off. The team did a great job to get us back out, but our goal quickly turned to maximizing our points opportunities. We are going to Mexico next month and we are defending winners there, so we are already looking ahead."

Kelly Collins, #64/TRG/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "It became a points race for us early when we had our suspension problem. We went from hero to nothing in one turn. We were just too far down on the order to make a run at the win. We will start to focus on our run for the GT season ending championship."

Andy Pilgrim, #64/TRG/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "The car was a little loose for me when it came back out. I was able to do 55s and 56s, we could have gotten a little more out of the car, but we were then focusing on getting to the finish. Twenty laps in the pits was just too many to make up in this competitive field."

Jan Magnussen, #64/TRG/iRise/Pontiac GTO.R, "We were the car to beat early, but we had our suspension problem. That put us down pretty far, so we wanted to run the rest of the race clean and bring the car home in its first 24 outing."

Kevin Buckler, TRG team owner, "We looked really strong early running first and second. Our problem with the 64 car was a bad break, but we took up the fight with the 65 car. We had hoped to give Pontiac a 24 hour win their first time out, but that makes us even more hungry to win next year. We will focus on winning the GT series championship."

-trg-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Jan Magnussen , Andy Pilgrim , Kelly Collins , Kevin Buckler , Andy Lally , Marc Bunting