PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 1, 2003) -- The Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series took to Phoenix International Raceway today for their first official practice sessions of the weekend. The Rolex Series began practicing for Saturday night's AJ's Fine Foods 250, while Grand-Am Cup prepared for Friday night's UnitedAuto 200 and Saturday afternoon's Phoenix 200.
Bell Motorsports Quickest In AJ's Fine Foods 250 Practice
The Bell Motorsports #54 Chevy-powered Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype recorded the fastest time during the opening day of practice for the Rolex Series AJ's Fine Foods 250. The #54 Chevy posted a 59.338 lap at 91.611 mph.
The Heritage Motorsports #48 Mustang led the GTS class with its 1:00.556 lap at 89.768 mph, while the Ferrari of Washington #33 Ferrari 360 GT was on top of the GT class with a 88.722 mph lap in 1:01.270.
Doncaster Racing, TC Kline Racing Lead Grand-Am Cup Practices
Doncaster Racing posted the quickest time of the day during practice for Saturday afternoon's Grand Sport Phoenix 200. The #119 Porsche clocked a 1:05.413 at 83.103 mph to lead the GS I class. The new Schuitemaker Motorsports #35 Nissan 350Z led the GS II class with its 78.738 mph lap in 1:09.039.
The new #12 BMW Z4 of TC Kline Racing was fastest in practice for Friday night's UnitedAuto 200 Sport Touring race. The BMW turned a 77.251 mph lap in 1:10.368. The HRPworld.com #43 Acura Integra LS was on top of the ST II class after the first day of practice with its 1:14.329 lap at 73.134 mph.
Third Mini Team to Debut in UnitedAuto 200
For the third time in as many races this season, a new Mini Cooper S team will debut in the Grand-Am Cup Sport Touring I class. Competition Associates, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is bringing their Rasmussen Motorsports car for its first real test on the demanding 1.51-mile, 11-turn road course. Team Manager and co-driver Vesco Kozarov and Grand-Am Cup veteran Jason Piscelli, who drove for Team Lexus last year, will pilot the #98 Mini in the Friday night race
Max Q Hopes to Repeat GS II Win
Last season Nick Longhi and Emil Assentato piloted the #53 Mustang Cobra R of Max Q/TF Racing to the Grand Sport II victory in the Grand Sport Phoenix 200. This year the pair had hoped to return to PIR with their new Mustang SVT race car, but major engine trouble during the Miami 200 a few weeks ago has forced the team to return to their Mustang Cobra R for Saturday afternoon's race.
Heritage Swaps Engines During Practice
Heritage Motorsports had to change out the engine in the #48 Mustang in the middle of practice. The Mustang's Ford engine developed an oil pump seizure on start-up for the afternoon practice session that left the engine in questionable condition.
Bell Juggles Three Cars In Two Different Series
Often times you will come across teams that have multiple cars in the same series, but this weekend Bell Motorsports has three race cars in two different series. Phoenix resident Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber will team up in two of the cars. First they will take the team's #54 BMW M3 to the track in the Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport Phoenix 200 on Saturday afternoon and then will run in the main event - the AJ's Fine Foods 250 - on Saturday night in the premier Daytona Prototype class with the #54 Chevy-powered Doran JE4. Bell Motorsports will also look to defend its GT victory of last year in the AJ's Fine Foods 250 with its V8-powered #5 BMW M3.
"First you have to get the proper people on the proper cars and keep up with it. We've got good guys trying real hard," said team owner Jim Bell of how he coordinates the preparation of his three race cars. "Then you have to coordinate getting the drivers in and out. Going from one car to the other, it takes them a few laps to get back into the mode of which car they're in. It's keeping us hopping, but so far so good.
Haywood Readjusting to PIR
Five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood took to PIR's 1.51-mile road course for the first time in 10 years today, piloting the Brumos Racing #59 Porsche Daytona Prototype.
"1993 was the last time I was here, so it took me a while to figure out where things were. Then the car didn't really feel confidence building, so we spent some time adjusting the suspension and right at the end it started feeling pretty good. I was having a problem with the shifter. It was overshifting a gear, so it would go from like first to third and then third to fifth," explained Haywood of his first session on the track.
Tickets are currently on sale for the AJ's Fine Foods 250 at Phoenix International Raceway, Saturday, May 3, as well as the Grand-Am Cup Series UnitedAuto 200 on Friday, May 2. Tickets can be purchased online at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com.
The AJ's Fine Foods 250 will be broadcast LIVE in SPEED Channel on Saturday, May 3 at 9 p.m. ET. Additional information on the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup is available online at www.grandamerican.com.