Daytona II: Essex Racing/Finlay race report

TOP-7 FINISH FOR ROB FINLAY AND MICHAEL VALIANTE AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, FL (June 29, 2006) As the sun went down over the Daytona International Speedway, Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante driving the No. 5 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs Daytona ...

TOP-7 FINISH FOR ROB FINLAY AND MICHAEL VALIANTE AT DAYTONA

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (June 29, 2006) As the sun went down over the Daytona International Speedway, Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante driving the No. 5 Make-A-Wish/Z-Line Designs Daytona Prototype prepared to take the green flag for the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona. Finlay starting the 70-lap event from the 5th position took the green flag and prepared to do battle with the other 26 cars that make up the Daytona Prototype class.

Knowing exactly what to do, Finlay drove a safe stint and brought the No. 5 machine into the pits on the lead lap. "I really don't know what to say," said Rob Finlay. "We thought the car would perform better than it did today. We need to just spend the next few days analyzing the data and figure out what's going on."

Michael Valiante climbed behind the wheel during what turned out to be the only caution of the evening and moved the Ford-powered machine off pit road and back into the hunt. Running in the top-10 for a better portion of his stint, Valiante's team elected to pit out of sequence in hopes that the leaders would be forced to pit for a splash and go in the closing stages of the race.

As the race progressed, Valiante found himself leading the event briefly until relinquishing the spot for a scheduled green flag pit stop. The crew performed flawlessly servicing the blue and silver machine and Valiante returned to competition. During the closing stages of the race, the team began to wonder if the leaders would have enough fuel to make it to the end.

Unfortunately they did and the Mooresville, NC based team were forced to settle for another top-10 finish, finishing in the seventh position. "We struggled all weekend and just didn't hit the set-up," said Michael Valiante.

"Rob did a great job staying out of trouble at the start of the race and brought the car into the pits safely. It was just a little disappointing because we had such a great car at Mid-Ohio but here it was just a struggle. We did come away with another consistent run and scored some points so it wasn't all bad."

The team will next compete at the Barber Motorsports Park the weekend of July 28-30.

-fm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Valiante , Rob Finlay