Daytona24: Godstone Ranch Motorsports race report

EARLY RETIREMENT BUT A POSITIVE WEEKEND FOR GODSTONE RANCH MOTORSPORTS AT THE ROLEX 24 Daytona Beach, Florida - February 3rd, 2010 - Despite an early end to the Godstone Ranch Motorsports team's effort at the Rolex 24 this weekend, the Texas ...

EARLY RETIREMENT BUT A POSITIVE WEEKEND FOR GODSTONE RANCH MOTORSPORTS AT THE ROLEX 24

Daytona Beach, Florida - February 3rd, 2010 - Despite an early end to the Godstone Ranch Motorsports team's effort at the Rolex 24 this weekend, the Texas Heart Institute was still a big winner. It was overall a positive weekend that introduced the Grand-Am community to the Texas Heart Institute and its work. It also highlighted not only the speed and potential of the team's Corvette, but also the quality and talent of the Leighton Reese Performance Group/Michael Baughman Racing crew who made impressive repairs during the race and kept their car out on track despite of serious mechanical problems and damage. After qualifying fourth and setting the fastest lap time several times during their run, the No. 07 Texas Heart Institute Corvette had to retire due to mechanical woes and was scored in the 23rd position in the GT class.

Paul Edwards took the green flag under heavy rain conditions after qualifying the No. 07 Texas Heart Institute Corvette fourth on the grid. During his first stint the 2008 Grand-Am GT Champion fell back due to a problem with his tires which he had to live with until lap 20 when he made his first pit stop for fuel and tires. As the track dried out, engineer Tony Dowe and Edwards decided it was time to switch to slick tires and pitted again on lap 36, at the 1h30m mark. With the new slick Pirelli tires on, Edwards managed to showcase the speed of his victory red "Heart" Corvette and by the time he finished his first turn at the wheel on Lap 70 he had set the quickest lap of the race and had climbed back to the 17th position.

John McCutchen II took over the driving duties of the No. 07 car and made his Rolex Grand-Am debut on a damp and slick Daytona track at the 2h40m mark. After a series of consistent laps the Texas native was finding his rhythm but then had to make an unscheduled pit stop to check for right rear damage after having slight contact with the tire wall at the bus stop. After seeing no visible damage the crew sent him out and in the next few laps McCutchen started turning his quickest times, but at the same time noticed a growing vibration and handling problems and was forced to pit after an inspired save when the right rear end let go between NASCAR turns 3 and 4.

Five time Daytona 200 winner Scott Russell took over the controls and went out in hopes the rear end would last until a yellow, but immediately reported that it was gone and the crew decided to bring the car into the garage. In an amazing feat of skill and organization the Leighton Reese Performance Group/Michael Baughman Racing crew identified a problem with the transmission and replaced the entire gearbox and half shaft in only 45 minutes. Russell got back out on track and immediately proved how quickly his transition from bikes to cars is happening by turning laps within only a few tenths of the leaders. Russell, a.k.a. Mr. Daytona, drove a flawless double stint until only a few laps before a scheduled driver change when he lost control of his Corvette and had contact with the Turn 1 tire wall. The car suffered only rear bodywork damage and the crew once again were the protagonists of the race and quickly repaired and sent the car back out.

1990 Rolex 24 winner Davy Jones completed the driver rotation as he got in the car at the 7h35m mark. Jones, who still holds the record as the last American to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (in 1996), quickly got up to speed and managed to complete a long and very consistent double stint under the lights which was fairly uneventful. At the 9h08m mark it was time for Jones to hand back the controls to teammate Paul Edwards to restart the river rotation in a race that was now starting to look more positive for the team.

Edwards immediately turned some blistering quick laps and was starting to gain ground when something in his rear suspension broke while going trough the banking and after a great save he brought the car in directly to the garage. After further inspection the crew decided that the damage to the right rear was terminal and it wouldn't be safe to send the car back out.

Despite an early end to their race, the Godstone Ranch Motorsports team showed not only the speed and potential of their Corvette, but also showcased the level of talent and perseverance of its crew which worked flawlessly and quickly throughout the race to keep the car out on the track.

Paul Edwards
No. 07 Texas Heart Institute / GRM / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette
"It's racing, we didn't have the best luck out there, unfortunately we didn't get to finish the race but we learned a lot from it and now we can move on to the next race and keep working. We had a good showing overall though, the car proved it's fast and that it will be a contender all season.

It was great being able to be a part of the Texas Heart Institute and the Godstone Ranch Motorsports program, it's amazing what they do and I'm proud to be able to contribute. Now we look ahead to Homestead, we have a lot of things to work on to get the new car back together and reliable but I have no doubt we'll be fighting for the top spots there as well."

John McCutchen II
No. 07 Godstone Ranch Motorsports / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette
"Every race team knows a day at the track can be a good day or a bad day or somewhere in between. That's racing! Disappointment after a DNF is normal, but a day later it's easier to find some real perspective. The Heart car was quick, popular with the fans and the Godstone team proved their championship character. We will be back. We are from Texas, quitting is never an option. A big thanks to all of our partners and contributors. Because of your generosity, the Texas Heart Institute in the end is the big winner."

Scott Russell
No. 07 Texas Heart Institute / GRM / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette
"For me it was a great experience regardless of the outcome, getting the chance to meet the new team and the drivers and be a part of the Texas Heart Institute was a very positive way to start the year. And to be able to raise money and help people just makes everything that much better.

I'm happy with the way the car drives, the lap times were good for the amount of time I had in the car so that definitely gives me confidence moving down the road. I think the car can still be better, we can still make it faster and easier to drive. But regardless in the end I thought that I can definitely drive this car all year and I think we can win some races and you never know maybe even a championship."

Davy Jones
No. 07 Texas Heart Institute / GRM / Team MBR / LRPG / Corvette
"Godstone Ranch Motorsports assembled an awesome team that was capable of winning. It was just unfortunate that we had that incident in our first practice session when the tow truck basically ripped our whole front end off sent us to the garage for repairs, that really set us back and we were just playing catch up after that. During the race the car was fast and easy to drive, but sometimes in endurance racing you also need luck and we didn't have much this weekend.

I really enjoyed working with Leighton Reese, Michel Baughman and my co-drivers. Being back in the car was great, it just felt like I hadn't missed a day, you get back into the groove of things pretty quickly and its just a shame that it was short-lived. I certainly look forward to competing in the Grand Am series in more races this year and will keep working hard at it.

The Texas Heart Institute, Fisk Electric, MonaVie and all our sponsors were really well received by the Grand-Am community and I'm honored to be part of a project like this that will raise so much money and will help save lives."

-source: godstone ranch motorsports

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