Caddell Leads Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Effort at Daytona; Series Inaugural Champion Relishing Daytona Debut Daytona Beach, FL (20 January 2009) -- A championship-winning driver will be teamed with a championship-winning organization this...
Caddell Leads Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Effort at Daytona; Series Inaugural Champion Relishing Daytona Debut
Daytona Beach, FL (20 January 2009) -- A championship-winning driver will be teamed with a championship-winning organization this Friday as 2008 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Champion Andrew Caddell of Graham, Washington, will make his Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge debut driving a Ford Mustang FR500C in the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway with Hyper Sport/Jim Click Racing. Caddell's first career KONI Challenge start comes as part of the Ford Racing Champions package for the Mustang Challenge.
Racing with Jim Click Racing as part of the Hyper Sport KONI Challenge campaign, Caddell will be in a championship-caliber environment as Hyper Sport won the 2008 KONI Challenge GS Class Championship with drivers Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell. In addition to being with a strong team, he will also be co-driving the Mustang with a familiar face, as Jim Click has been signed to share the driving duties. The duo have a fast friendship already, as Click was a fellow competitor in Mustang Challenge, and will head south to Daytona bringing extensive KONI challenge experience to the program.
"I'm excited," said Caddell, who took two wins and scored seven podiums on his way to the 2008 Mustang Challenge crown. "We went down to the test days and it was pretty cool. The cars are similar in a lot of ways but a little different in other ways. It was great to get down there and get in a different car, and to especially get around Daytona!"
The Ford Mustang FR500C that competes in the GS class of the KONI Sports Car Challenge features the 5.0-liter Cammer engine and represents the next step up from the FR500S utilized in Mustang Challenge competition.
"The tires are a little different," continued Caddell. "They run Hoosiers in KONI and BFGoodrich in the Mustang Challenge. I'm getting used to those; they're a little bit harder, so they want to spin the tires a lot more than the Mustang Challenge car did. Also, the Mustang Challenge car had the wing and the front splitter and the KONI car only has the little spoiler, so they tend to push a lot more than the Mustang Challenge car. So you have to be careful with what you do when getting into the corner to make sure that it doesn't push at all and you don't run the front tires off of it."
For Caddell, the three-hour KONI Challenge race will be a markedly different format from the 45-minute Mustang Challenge sprint races he contested on his way to the title. But he will not only have a strong organization behind him with Hyper Sport, but Caddell will also have an experienced hand in Click to team with.
"It will help a ton having him (Click) there," said Caddell. "He's a very nice man. I talked to him a lot throughout last season. Also, to be paired with Hyper Sport is great because they won the championship last year. I think that they will be very valuable because they know what they're doing. Joe Foster will be able to help me out and tell me what to do. With the whole team that they have over there, it should be a very good opportunity for us in Daytona."
The FR500C has a strong record of success on the 3.56-mile oval-based road course, having won in its debut KONI appearance at the track in 2005. The Ford Mustang went on to help David Empringham and his Multimatic team win the '05 Grand-Am Cup (now KONI Sports Car Challenge) Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championships. Showing that it has both speed and staying power, the FR500C once again locked up the trio of championships in 2008 as Hyper Sport drivers Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell scored the championship laurels for Ford.
"I really think Andrew is one of the best up and coming racers in this country," said Click. "It's great that Ford Racing has asked me to be a part of this as his co-driver. I don't think Andrew will have any problem making the move to the FR500S. This young man just so smooth and so good, he can drive anything. He did a great job this year taking the Championship, and so long as I can keep the car out of trouble and turn it over to him on the lead lap, we should be in great shape at Daytona!"
Caddell will not be the only Mustang Challenge racer making the move to KONI Challenge in this event, as Jamie Slone, who finished second in the 2008 Mustang Challenge championship, will co-drive with Nick Woodman in a second Hyper Sport entry. In addition, Mustang Challenge racers Charles Putman, Tony Buffomante are also entered in the event. No matter what the outcome of the race, the Mustang Challenge racers are looking forward to the new experience, not to mention making some new friends which they will be able to keep in touch with all year long, as the 2009 Mustang Challenge schedule will see the series share five race weekends with Grand-Am's KONI Challenge events.