CHANGING HORSES Finlay Motorsports will battle for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series championship with a 2-car team of Ford-powered Crawford Prototypes Charlotte, NC (November 4, 2005 ) -- Finlay Motorsports today announced that it will...
Finlay Motorsports will battle for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series championship with a 2-car team of Ford-powered Crawford Prototypes
Charlotte, NC (November 4, 2005 ) -- Finlay Motorsports today announced that it will expand to a 2-car effort for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series, with the team competing for the championship in Crawford Daytona Prototypes with Ford V-8 power provided by Roush & Yates Racing Engines.
"The opportunity to have pro-active technical partners in Ford Racing Technology and Roush & Yates was a big factor in our decision to make the change," says Finlay Motorsports owner/driver Rob Finlay. "And the same goes for our choice of chassis. Max Crawford and his team build an extremely competitive racing car in a facility just down the road from our new team headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. For a new team we've had a pretty good year in 2005, but we did learn that to compete for the championship in 2006 we needed to move beyond a client-customer relationship and into long-term partnerships with people and companies who will work with us to achieve that goal."
In making the change from the single Dinan-BMW Riley the team campaigned during its 2005 freshman season, Finlay Motorsports joins a long and legendary history of Ford-powered endurance racing prototype sports cars that reaches back to the Ford 'Total Performance' racing program of the 1960s that produced three consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"We're pleased that Finlay Motorsports has decided to switch over to the Ford engine for 2006," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "We know that our engine is already extremely competitive in the Rolex Series, and with our partnership with Roush & Yates Engines, we know that our engine program is only going to get better. We're excited to get the 2006 going."
With one race yet to run in the 2005 season, the season finale in Mexico City on Saturday, November 5, Finlay Motorsports is 6th in the championship battle, and has compiled an enviable record for a first-year team in the super-competitive Grand American Rolex Series. Co-driven by Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell, the team's #19 Air Force Reserve/Make-A-Wish Foundation/Commercial Defeasance Dinan-powered BMW Riley has scored four top-10 and five top-5 finishes, as well as 2nd-place result in which McDowell became the youngest driver ever to stand on a Rolex Series podium.
"We'd like to thank Riley Technologies and especially our BMW engine wizard Steve Dinan for a superb effort in helping us put together a competitive program in our first year of Rolex Series racing." Says Finlay Motorsports team manager Steve Cameron. "Change is difficult but inevitable and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with people who had technical resources we needed to move up to the next level and who were really willing to get behind the program. Both our engine supplier and car builder are located close enough that we can work with them on a day-to-day basis in developing the equipment we need, and that will be a huge benefit to us in the coming season."
Crawford Race Cars, based in Denver, North Carolina, is one of the premiere chassis manufacturers in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. Teams running Crawford chassis finished 2nd in the 2004 Rolex Series championship, and are currently 3rd in the 2005 standings. Crawford's close proximity to Finlay Motorsports facility and the range of technical resources available in the greater Charlotte region, such as the ARC wind tunnel, will make this a formidable partnership.
"We are delighted to have Finlay Motorsports select the Crawford DP03 as their chassis of choice for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series. This is a highly motivated and competitive team with an excellent driver line up. Crawford Race Cars looks forward to a long and successful relationship with Finlay Motorsports."
Roush & Yates Engines, with five teams competing in NASCAR's Chase for the Nextel Cup, is one of the top engine-building operations in auto racing today and achieved their winning reputation going the extra mile to supply their teams with the very best engines. Located literally minutes from the Finlay Motorsports headquarters, Roush & Yates currently supplies powerplants for two Daytona Prototype teams and is enthusiastic about expanding its presence in the Grand Am Rolex Series.
"We're pleased to have a team the caliber of Finlay Motorsports showcasing our products in the Grand American Rolex Series," says Robert Yates, co-owner of Roush & Yates Engines. b^0x001cWe'll be providing them with the best and most reliable engines in the series, and are excited by the prospect of seeing the team in victory lane on a regular basis in 2006."
While the corporate dimension of the new partnership between Finlay Motorsports, Ford Racing Technology, Crawford Race Cars and Roush & Yates holds a variety of benefits for all involved, it still ultimately comes down to what their combined effort can do to help a couple of guys in Nomex suits win races. While the ultimate answer to that question is still several months away, the Finlay Motorsports driving duo of Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell are enthusiastic about the potential.
"I'm excited to be racing for the blue oval again and fortunate to have many supporters and friends at Ford that have helped me throughout my career," says Gidley. "I've had a lot of success with Ford over the years, starting with winning the US Formula Ford 2000 Oval Championship and Rookie of the Year in 1995. When I moved up to Champ Cars, I led my first race, at Long Beach, with a Ford engine. My most recent experience with Ford at the race track was 2004 when I drove the first Ford Focus to ever finish on the podium in a SCCA Speed World Challenge event. I've also known Max Crawford for a while now and I really like his passion for racing and desire to win. The Finlay Motorsports team has enjoyed a lot of success this year, but Rob Finlay has put together an even more potent package for 2006, and I'm excited for the new season to begin."
McDowell, just back from his first-ever Champ Car drive at Surfer's Paradise with the Rocketsports Racing team -- and his first taste of Ford Racing power and technology -- is both impressed and optimistic.
"Ford sure has that Champ Car engine program dialed in to a really impressive level," he says. "And while I know that Cosworth and Roush & Yates are different operations, they're both extremely capable and professional, and both are hooked in to Ford. If we can bring that level of technical sophistication, and that laser-like focus on winning, into the Finlay Motorsports team, then there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be top contenders for the Rolex Series championship next year."