Bell Ready For Rolex 24 At Daytona Debut Defending race winner set for a busy weekend at Daytona Daytona Beach, FL (26 January 2010) --Looking ahead to the season-opening GRAND-AM race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Matt Bell has ...
Bell Ready For Rolex 24 At Daytona Debut
Defending race winner set for a busy weekend at Daytona
Daytona Beach, FL (26 January 2010) --Looking ahead to the season-opening GRAND-AM race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Matt Bell has an intense schedule to kick off the year, but it is one that he couldn't be happier about.
This Friday, Bell will look to defend his breakthrough race-winning outing in GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition at Daytona, and will also be making his Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday.
For the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge full-season effort, Bell has been signed by Stevenson Motorsports to drive the No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro, liveried in the Sunoco Fuels blue of the iconic Trans-Am Penske machine.
Throughout his career, Bell has attracted a roster of co-drivers that mark as true 'who's who' of road racing, and will once again be co-driving with someone with scores of experience in a wide range of categories as he shares the driving duties in the Riley Technologies-built GS.R Camaro with Jeff Bucknum. The Grand Sports (GS) class effort will see Bell look to improve upon his run to third in the 2009 driver championship.
"I'm really looking forward to racing with Jeff this year," said Bell. "Jeff is going to be a great partner, and we have a similar approach with the car. There are a lot of new things for me this year -- new car, new team and new co-driver -- but I'm very excited about it and can't wait to get going at Daytona."
The Rolex 24 At Daytona regularly brings out the best and brightest around the motorsports globe, and this year will be no different as the 3.56-mile circuit will be packed with championship-caliber competition with racing resumes that run the gamut from NASCAR Sprint Cup to Formula 1.
Last year, Bell established his position as one to watch with his qualifying effort at Daytona, scoring third position on the 69 car grid and setting the tone as he went on to take 6 front-row starting positions including 5 poles. That Daytona qualifying effort paid immediate dividends as Bell scored his first race win the very next day.
While he knows that he's established himself as a competitive threat week in and week out, Bell is bringing tempered expectations for the first race of the Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge season.
"Of all the tracks that we will be racing this year, Daytona might not be the place where the Camaro shines the best, but I think we should at least be in the hunt this weekend," said Bell. "I am very excited about debuting this car at Daytona. We've all seen what the Mustangs are capable of, and the new BMW's will be very strong there as well. I know that there is a bit of pressure from having won last year, but I always feel some competitive pressure, so that doesn't change anything for me as I approach this weekend."
The move to the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 ranks as a significant step in Bell's racing career, but it is characteristic of the young Californian's quick progress in the sport. After feeding the racing bug with some time in racing school at his home Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track, Bell took on BMW Club racing but was soon looking for a bigger challenge, and moved to the pro ranks of Continental Tire competition. A promising rookie year in 2008 gave way to a winning season in 2009. Bell is aiming for more laps, lessons, and champagne once again in 2010.
Progressing from the production-based equipment in BMW club racing to the purpose-built machinery that he'll be putting to the test of 24 hours this weekend marks a tremendous progression in the sport, and his opportunities are reflective of that. Moving between very different Continental Tire and Rolex Sports Car Series machinery will keep Bell on his toes, despite the shared nameplate between the two entires.
"The cars are so different!" said Bell. "Everything from the controls, the seating position, visibility -- it's unbelievable. But it's fun to be in something so completely purpose-built in the Camaro GT.R. I haven't had a ton of time in the car yet, so it's still very unfamiliar to me. I'm still working to explore my limits of comfort with the car, and really looking forward to that this weekend."
"I've also been very impressed with the StevensonMotorsports team. They are very prepared, and it seems like anything that comes up, they can adapt quickly, and obviously that's going to be a big thing in a race like the 24. This should be an excellent season for me, but also for the entire GRAND-AM paddock. Having Continental Tires promoting the series, and with all the new teams, drivers and cars, it really feels like this is the best place to race in America. I'm really excited to be a part of it!"
The Fresh From Florida 200 will take the green flag at 2:30 PM ET on Friday, January 29.
-source: matt bell PR