Double Duty at Daytona for Matt Bell
Rolex 24 and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge 2011 Season-openers
Daytona Beach, FL (25 January 2011) -Set to drive both the No. 77 Doran Racing Daytona Prototype and the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GS.R this weekend, Matt Bell will be one busy guy. But the young Californian racer couldn't be more ready to go as he looks forward to racing in two big GRAND-AM races at Daytona International Speedway. Bell will run in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season-opening events as the year kicks off at the "World Center of Racing."
The Rolex 24 at Daytona start will mark the second of his young career in the huge event, and his third time racing a Daytona Prototype in GRAND-AM competition. The opening two chapters of his DP career have been head-turners, as he netted the Jim Trueman Award in both previous starts (New Jersey Motorsports Park, Miller Motorsports Park) and he'll look to make a similarly successful campaign in the 24 this weekend.
While he already had previous long-distance endurance racing experience in club-level events, Bell got his first taste of what racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona demands from a driver last year when Stevenson Motorsports invited him to race in the GT class as he impressed with his quick adaptation. Bell looks to grow his experience as he puts the No. 77 Ford Dallara through the ultimate test along with teammates Brian Frisselle, Henri Richard and Ross Kaiser.
"This is a huge event and I'll be racing against a lot of drivers that I read about as I was growing up, so it's very exciting for me," offered Bell. "Having the experience from last year is certainly something I want to build on, and it gives me a lot more confidence just knowing what to expect as the race progresses. Running a DP with much more downforce than I've experienced before is something that I'm still adjusting to, but it was good to get some laps in during the test days and experience the car in this configuration. We want to make sure we've got a solid car underneath us that will be good to go for the full distance, and hope for some Champagne on Sunday afternoon."
But before Bell takes to the 24, there will be another to-do on his list as he opens the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season with co-driver John Edwards. Bell scored third on the grid on his way to taking a breakthrough race victory in the 2009 edition of the race. Last year, Bell set a series of new benchmarks for the new Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with the first-ever pole position, podium finish and first lead laps last year. With a season of development behind him and a capable new co-driver alongside, Bell is hoping to start the weekend off quickly with a strong result.
"We've seen glimpses of the potential that this Camaro has, and the Stevenson guys just have not stopped working to keep unlocking more speed with the car," said Bell, who finished second in the 2009 championship standings. "I'm optimistic about the weekend and hope to start the year with some very solid points for the championship. Having John (Edwards) as my co-driver is something else that I'm very excited about -- we both want to represent Chevrolet and the Camaro as well as we possibly can starting right out of the gates here at Daytona."