Garcia and Rice Join Spirit of Daytona Racing Daytona Double as Nos. 09 and 90 in action (Daytona, FL) 29 June 09 -- 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona race-winning teammates Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice will be reunited in Rolex Sports Car Series ...
Garcia and Rice Join Spirit of Daytona Racing
Daytona Double as Nos. 09 and 90 in action
(Daytona, FL) 29 June 09 -- 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona race-winning teammates Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice will be reunited in Rolex Sports Car Series competition next month at the site of their last triumph together, as the two have been signed to co-drive the No. 90 Porsche V8-Coyote for Spirit of Daytona Racing starting with the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4th.
Spirit of Daytona Racing will sport a two-Daytona Prototype entry for the event, as the No. 09 Porsche V8-Coyote of Guy Cosmo and "Mr. Daytona" Scott Russell will also race in the Saturday afternoon sprint event before the fireworks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup event kick off following round 7 of the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series championship.
The Brumos event will mark the Rolex Sports Car Series debut for the newest-specification Coyote chassis, which Rice and Garcia will share through the remainder of the 2009 season save for the Miller Motorsports Park event in September.
"Obviously we're really excited not only to have Buddy and Antonio racing with us, but also to start the next chapter in our development with the Coyote chassis with this debut at our home track in Daytona," said team owner Troy Flis. "We've been working flat out to be ready to go with this car and even though we have not logged too many miles with it in testing, I'm confident we can give the new car a good strong run at Daytona and we are looking forward to building on that through the second half of the season with these guys."
Beyond his natural speed, which powered him to a breakthrough Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004, Rice will also bring a wealth of experience to the program. Rice has driven countless combinations of formula and sports car machinery and has participated in the development of many of them, as Spirit of Daytona Racing looks to push the newest Daytona Prototype combination as quickly as possible.
"We want to make a good showing at Daytona of course, but it's more about the future and about developing the car, just getting the time, mileage, and understanding of what it takes to make this car fast," said Rice, who made his first start in Grand-Am competition in 2000. "We need to gather the miles and establish data points with the car and make some baby steps before really going after it. This weekend really is a first tune up for the Rolex 24 next year, to see where this car is and what needs to happen in the next 6 months to be competitive in the 24."
With his last Rolex race a highly successful one as he scored the Rolex Daytona Chronograph, Rice is looking forward to being part of the highly-competitive Rolex Sports Car Series once again, as well as working with a motor-chassis combination that is unique in the category.
"There are a lot of highly talented drivers here in Rolex, not just for the 24 but for all these races," said Rice. "There are a lot of different winners, every weekend. You have to work and push all the time so of course it's really exciting for the drivers."
Garcia, who has earned a careers-worth of success in the last 12 months with victories at Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans, made his first race start with Spirit of Daytona Racing in the Glen 6 Hour, but never took to the track in race action as the car was retired early with transmission issues.
Garcia has previous experience with an earlier iteration of the Coyote chassis, having come up just .064-seconds short of a Rolex Series win at Montreal last year.
"We need to find our way to make this car competitive," said Garcia while preparing to test the Coyote at Mid-Ohio. "We are learning what is working and what is not working. The most important thing is to establish a base-aero-wise and mechanical-wise. Grand-Am for me is the best category for the racing, it's the best endurance championship because there are a lot of cars and they are very close together. It's not at all fixed who will win because of the equipment. There is a wide open window, and that makes it very, very exciting."
The Brumos 250 is a one-day race outing for the Rolex Sports Car Series, which will open with practice at 8:30 and then go green flag at 2:00 PM EST.