Phoenix: Orbit Racing preview

wedge edge Orbit Racing took a cue from NASCAR to prepare the No. 44 Classic Industries Porshe 911 GT3 RS for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10. The 1.51-mile infield road course...

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Orbit Racing took a cue from NASCAR to prepare the No. 44 Classic Industries Porshe 911 GT3 RS for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10. The 1.51-mile infield road course includes part of the banked oval track used for NASCAR stock-car races. Orbit team owner Rodger Hawley believes mastery of the oval is the key to success in Phoenix.

"We're setting the car up to work on the left-handers - a NASCAR setup, puttin' a couple of rounds of wedge in 'er," he said, indicating the crew will balance the weight of the car to maximize speed on the oval. "The whole secret of Phoenix is being able to go as fast as you can around the banking. There is a low line and a high line and a middle groove. You may not be able to run three abreast, but you'll find people taking three different lines."

home in Latrobe

The Orbit Racing crew stopped in Latrobe, Pa., 45 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, en route to Phoenix. The occasion? A delayed celebration of the team's performance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in February, when Orbit won the GT class and finished second overall. Drivers Joe and Jay Policastro, who live in Latrobe, used the opportunity to show their winning Porsche to friends, colleagues and members of the Porsche Club of America.

"We are trying to educate the hometown folks about sports-car racing," Joe Policastro said. "We are in NASCAR country. We thought if we could show the car and the equipment it takes to operate a team for Grand Am, they would understand what we do. It also give us a chance to show our families the car and equipment."

winning strategy

Orbit driver Mike Fitzgerald of Fountain Hills, Ariz., understands the importance of strategy in determining team results. The right call on anything from tire choice to pit-stop timing can mean the difference between winning and finishing last.

Fitzgerald used his strategic skills in a media challenge on March 31, when he coached his teams to a one-two finish in a go-kart race at the F1 Race Factory in Phoenix.

"It was a lot of fun!" he said. "My teams finished first and second in the race by a couple of laps. The Arizona Republic qualified on the pole and KFNX radio won. [Daytona Prototype driver] Darren Law's team came in last. I told him we won because of our pit strategy!"

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Series GRANDAM