Daytona II: Banner Racing race report

Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP finishes 9th after hair raising high speed spin at Daytona Daytona Beach Florida (July 6, 2009): Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards drove the ...

Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP finishes 9th after hair raising high speed spin at Daytona

Daytona Beach Florida (July 6, 2009): Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards drove the #07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP.R to a 9th place finish in the GT Class of the Brumos 250 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday July 4th.

Collins survived a high speed spin after getting turned around by the #86 Porsche on the fastest part of the Daytona track. Unfortunately the spin blew the windshield out of the car and flat spotted all four tires requiring an unscheduled pit stop that put the #07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac a lap down to the GT field.

Collins moved back within reach of the top five after the Drinkin' Mate team gambled by staying on track during a caution to regain the lost lap. Unfortunately there wasn't another caution period during the race and Collins was forced to pit for tires, fuel and to get co-driver Paul Edwards into the drivers' seat.

Edwards ran at the same pace as the GT leaders although was well behind in 14th but managed to rally back to 9th position as the checkered flag fell.

"It was actually quite cool and refreshing," Kelly Collins said of driving the #07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac around the Daytona track sans windshield. "But all of the wind coming into the cockpit was buffeting everything around and it looked like the dashboard was going to wind up in my face so I could only go about 100 miles per hour on my way back to the pits."

"I think my experience as a stunt driver helped a lot because I know how to drive the car backwards and release the brakes, I am pretty good at going backwards," said Collins of his miraculous save. "But with me spinning around like that it puts an onus on the other drivers to miss me and kudos to them, they all did!"

"Kelly did an incredible job both saving the car and driving about an hour and a half in all of that heat," said Paul Edwards. "We pulled out a top ten finish out of a race that could have been a lot worse. Hopefully we can have the perfect race at the next one at Barber Park and gain some ground on the points' leaders."

"Everything considered we were lucky not to have totally wrecked the car," said Collins. "We still managed to finish 9th and remain second in points so we at least salvaged something out of the day."

The 9th place finish kept Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in second place in the Grand-Am GT Drivers' Championship with 192 but now 29 points behind the leaders Leh Keen and Dirk Werner.

Next up for the #07 Drinkin' Mate Pontiac GXP.R of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards is Round 8 of the GT Classification of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham Alabama on July 19th.

-credit: leightonreese.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Kelly Collins , Lehman Keen , Dirk Werner