Lexington, Ohio – Spirit of Daytona Racing returned to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in pursuit of a second consecutive race victory at the track this weekend, but lady luck unfortunately had a different plan for the team.
Sharing the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com Corvette DP, Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook combined to lead 60 of the 104 laps that made up the Diamond Cellar Classic, but a series of late race calamities cost the duo a shot at a win as the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA entry came home ninth.
After Westbrook took over the reigns, his race-winning defense was on plan as he moved to the lead on lap 74, holding the point for the next 15 laps as he looked to stretch the run with the Continental Tires all the way to the finish.
The battle for the lead saw Westbrook suffer from contact as he was forced to cede the lead. But the fight wasn’t just outside the car, as the Briton was soon suffering inside the car and not able to get the most out if it, or himself.
“We haven't seen the car yet to see if we broke something,” said team owner Troy Flis. “About 10 laps into Richard's (Westbrook) second stint he was just whooped and he said that when Joao (Barbosa) put pressure on him, he just wasn't himself anymore.
We tried to get him to calm down and just let Joao go, but racers are racers and we had a little touch there. But no fault to the No. 5 car. Kudos to them they had a great race today. It could have been a great day for us in the points today, but we'll see if there is something in the temperature of the cockpit or a/c or what it was.”
The ninth place finish was hardly representative of the strong show the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com entry put on all weekend long, but the team will pack up and start to look forward to Watkins Glen in two weeks’ time.
“It just shows how hard it is to win one of these races,” said Taylor, who like Westbrook will shortly be Le Mans bound to compete in the endurance classic next weekend.
“We had a top two car all day long. We had good track position, and the team made a great call to not take tires on that last stop. It was worth the risk, it is so hard to win these. But we showed we will be a tough team to beat the rest of the year. So, on to Watkins Glen and I think we’ll have a really good run there.”
“We've had a good car all year and we've just had these little things getting us,” said Flis. “We're trying to build a championship team and sometimes you have a good car and you still finish second or third and I guess that's what we're still learning.
I hate it for the guys. Ricky (Taylor) did a fabulous job today. The team did their job and it was a great day but Ricky did an outstanding job all weekend. We're just going to keep building it for 2014.”
Next up will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 28-30.
Spirit of Daytona Racing