Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Testing At Daytona; New Tires, Teams and Drivers Exercise at World Center of Racing Pontiac powered Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams took to the track for two days of testing in preparation for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports...
Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Testing At Daytona; New Tires, Teams and Drivers Exercise at World Center of Racing
Pontiac powered Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams took to the track for two days of testing in preparation for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The mid-November laps are important as Pirelli has become the new spec tire for the sports car series.
The day ended with the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac at the top of the time sheet with a time of 1:41.190. Team owner Wayne Taylor was behind the wheel along with Max Angelelli, Michael Valiante and Wayne's son, Ricky Taylor. The time is nearly three seconds under the current DP track qualifying record. Taylor is focused on adding another Rolex 24 victory to those he won in 1996 and 2005.
"Michael is new to the team, so we wanted to get him some laps in the car," Taylor said. "Max did a lot of the setup work and then Ricky put in some very good laps. I had my turn behind the wheel as well. The tires have a lot of grip and are very consistent. The car ran without many issues, but the Ford cars look really strong. So we have a lot of work to do."
Along with running the new tire, the teams are sorting through driver lineups for the Rolex 24 and 2008 season.
Reigning Grand-Am DP champions, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, returns with drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. The duo is looking to duplicate their championship winning season by doing their off-season homework.
"We have been working on overall balance with the new tire," Fogarty said. "It was small suspension changes that got us back into the window with the new Pirelli tires. It seems to be a little difficult to drive on the out lap, but other than that I like it. The wear seems real consistent. I think for qualifying the quick lap will probably be the fourth or fifth depending on the track as opposed to the second with the Hoosier."
Reigning NASCAR champion and current points leader Jimmie Johnson took the time to put in some laps behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Pontiac. The team is preparing to announce their driver lineup for the Rolex 24.
"I am here running laps to get reacquainted with the car and with the guys from GAINSCO," Johnson said. "I did a handful of laps in the series championship winning car. It was nice to run around here with no real pressure. I got used to the cars and am getting to know Jon and Alex. I came down to have some fun in one of these DP cars. I really enjoy this DP series. I've been at three of their 24-hour events, and hopefully I will come back and run in it in 2008. I just want to get some seat time, get used to the car, and Bob Stallings and the GAINSCO group were nice enough to let me come down, work with them, get some seat time and get a feel for things. So I'm having a great time."
The Krohn Racing team had driver Nic Jonsson getting the last laps out of its Riley chassis as the team will run their new Lola Pontiac DP cars at the Rolex 24.
"We were really focused on the tires these two days", Jonsson said. "We will be running two new Lolas for the Rolex, so we were really not tuning the car. We weren't trying to go fast, but we ended up pretty good. We did a combination of in-and-out and long runs. We did two good long runs this afternoon. The tire has a lot more grip. It seems that it stays under you more and the balance stays with the car longer. You don't get that early oversteer we used to have. The balance of the car stays consistent."
GT runner up Banner Racing had their two GXP.R racers on the track with Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards returning in the No. 07 and Leighton Reese in the 06. The cars have received suspension updates, a new nose and 40 more pounds from Grand-Am for 2008.
"We seemed to have gained 40 pounds on the car since the last race at Miller," Reese said. "The competition lost 50 pounds. We are trying to work with the added weight and focusing on the 24. We tested a couple of drivers for the 24, 2006 GT champion Marc Bunting and also Robert Nearn. The cars are strong and we had a list of things to work on this week. One is that we are looking at running a faster pace for the 24 hour. The GT competition this year will be even stronger and I think the race pace will be even faster. Mexico City is four months away, so our focus is on the 24."
"I really like the new Pirelli tires," Collins said. "The tires will last a full stint, and maybe half of the next. You still have to slide the car around to go fast. We are carrying some more weight since the end of last season so we were working with the setup quite a bit this week. The GT competition will be closer, the tires will help and there are some more good drivers in good cars in the series."
Along with the announcement by John Stevenson that his Stevenson Motorsports team will run a new Pontiac GXP.R in the GT series, Autohaus Motorsports, of Pompano Beach, Florida, practiced a borrowed GXP.R this week in preparation to receive its new Pontiac in time for the Rolex 24 practice January 4-6.
Ten Pontiac powered Daytona Prototype racers and four GXP.R GT cars tested today and yesterday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 2008 season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona to be run January 26-27.
-credit: gm racing