Phoenix: Bell Motorsports preview

Kodak EasyShare Team Ready for Saturday Night Action At Phoenix International in Daytona Prototype-Only Race FORT WORTH, Sept. 7 - With different classes of cars running simultaneously in the same race, endurance sports car racing has always...

Kodak EasyShare Team Ready for Saturday Night Action At Phoenix International in Daytona Prototype-Only Race

FORT WORTH, Sept. 7 - With different classes of cars running simultaneously in the same race, endurance sports car racing has always been sort of a three-ring circus. Cars running quite different speeds and using different braking points and lines through the turns are all part of the challenge for the drivers involved.

In the Rolex series it's not uncommon for the drivers of the faster Daytona Prototype cars to complain that the GT cars are in their way. Conversely, rarely does a race go by where a GT driver doesn't complain about being hit or almost hit by a Daytona Prototype.

Everyone who ever wondered how a race would be with more "free sailing" for all will be able to find out this weekend when the Rolex series splits the Daytona Prototype field and the GT field up for two different races at Phoenix International Raceway. The Daytona Prototypes have never run alone in one event, and the GT division hasn't had a stand-alone race since 2001.

The GT race is slated for Friday night, while the Daytona Prototype race featuring the Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Racing Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Pontiac No. 54 will be held on Saturday night. The team won the series' biggest race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, last year, and it was the Daytona Prototype champion in 2003.

Since both fields are so evenly matched the action is expected to still be very close, but the speeds will probably be higher than usual without the added challenges of the different classes to contend with. Drivers who excel at using traffic to their advantage won't have as much of it to work with as usual, however, so everybody will just have to wait and see how both races develop as the cars take to the 1.51-mile, 11-turn infield road course. There are 17 GT cars entered in Friday night's event and 21 Daytona Prototype cars entered in Saturday night's race. Headlights will be on, making for an electric atmosphere as the lights bounce off the cars' colorful paint schemes.

One challenge that both events will share is excessive heat. The five-day weather forecast for the Phoenix area has highs of over 100 and lows in the 80s, which should prove challenging to all.

The Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Racing team understands the task ahead and is doing everything it can to be well prepared. After posting five top-10 finishes so far this year and leading 15 laps of the last race, the team would like nothing better than to post another podium finish in Saturday night's Daytona Prototype race.

The drivers will be 2003 champion Terry Borcheller, formerly of Phoenix and now of Gainesville, Ga., and Ralf Kelleners of Dusseldorf, Germany. Car owner/driver Forest Barber of Fort Worth will miss this event due to a previous family commitment but he'll be watching closely when SPEED airs the Daytona Prototype race on a one-day-tape-delayed basis at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The action starts tomorrow (Thursday), with the Kodak EasyShare car scheduled to be on the track for the first time at 7:25 p.m. for practice. Another practice session is slated for 9:15 p.m. later that night. That's all the practice for the DPs that is slated before qualifying occurs at 6:45 p.m. Friday night, right before the GT race.

Saturday night there is a warm-up for 15 minutes at 6:45 p.m. and the DP race follows immediately at 7 p.m. The distance is 250 miles, 166 laps or two hours and 45 minutes.

-bms-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Terry Borcheller , Forest Barber