Motorcyle Stars Rebound to Finish Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2009) - The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona/AMA Pro Racing Porsche Coyote managed to come back from a pit fire to finish 11th in the Daytona Prototype class in last weekend's 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The driving team was made up of motorcycle legends Scott Russell, Jeff Ward and Jason Pridmore, plus Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve veteran Guy Cosmo.

Russell was beginning to strap himself into the cockpit Sunday morning when fuel caught fire after a fuel line failed. The driver was quickly able to exit the cockpit without injury, and returned to the race less than an hour later when the team repaired the damage. The team completed 649 laps, taking the checkered flag at 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

"It was a good experience, and I really enjoyed it," said Russell, the first five-time winner of the Daytona 200 By Honda motorcycle race. "I can't say enough about the hard work that the crew put in, not only getting us back on track from the fire, but in the months leading up to the race."

- The Spirit of Daytona team carried decals of the Boys Scouts of America, with the car escorted to the grid by several Boy Scouts. This was the first step in a partnership between the team and the youth organization to promote Scouting in a dynamic new environment.

- Cosmo, who exited the car on the Spirit of Daytona pit stop, was taken to the infield care center and he was released after evaluation.

- Also treated in the infield care center during the event was NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who cut the middle finger of his left hand with a kitchen knife while modifying his uniform at his motor coach Sunday morning. He flew to his home in Charlotte, N.C., where he was expected to follow up with additional evaluation.

- Jep Thornton, driver of the Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, was also evaluated and released following an incident that brought out the first caution two hours and 45 minutes into the event.

- The No. 45 Victory Junction - Orbit Racing Coca-Cola BMW Riley of Kyle Petty, Bill Lester, Darren Manning and Leo Hendry Jr. made its Daytona Prototype debut. The car exited with engine failure after completing 216 laps. Lester will run the season with the team, while Petty will run as his schedule permits.

- Porsche made it a sweep of both Rolex Series classes by taking a one-two finish in the GT category. Team owner Kevin Buckler was part of the winning lineup in 2002 and 2003 -- capturing overall honors the latter year. Jorg Bergmeister, who participated in both prior TRG victories, joined Andy Lally, Justin Marks, Patrick Long and RJ Valentine in leading the class in the TRG No. 67 Porsche GT3, one position ahead of the team's No. 66 Porsche GT3 of Ted Ballou, Spencer Pumpelly, Tim George Jr., Richard Lietz and 2005 Rolex 24 overall winner Emmanuel Collard.

- Two vehicles failed inspection following Thursday's opening round of qualifying. The No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley was found to be too wide, while the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports BMW Riley was found to be too low. They were allowed to participate in Friday's second round qualifying session and both participated in the race.

- The winning No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley was found to be out of compliance for minimum vehicle weight in post-race technical inspection. The car was found to be 12 pounds underweight. The team was fined $5,000 in addition to five driver, team and manufacturer points. This will not affect the race results.

- Following the event, several engines were taken by Grand-Am officials for follow-up evaluation at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.

- The Rolex 24 At Daytona opened the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The next event will be the Bosch Engineering 250, April 24-25 at Virginia International Raceway.

-credit: grand-am