Daytona Beach, Fla. (24 January 2013)- Anyone who was looking to see the expression “racing is a team sport” on display would only need to witness the effort that went into preparing the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro at Daytona International Speedway. During the second practice session of the weekend, the car suffered a mechanical issue that caused a fire in the engine bay. Driver John Edwards responded as quickly as possible, braving the smoke and escalating temperatures to get the Camaro as close to a fire station as possible before getting out of the car.
1:58.009-seconds was all it took for Matt Bell to clear one lap of the 3.56-mile track on just his second flying lap. Which was fortuitous, as a black flag all curtailed the session and set the grid after just a few minutes of running. Bell scored eighth on the grid with the lap for a fourth row starting spot.
“I’m just so proud of the guys, both GS and GT,” said Team Manager Mike Johnson. “The GS guys and the GT guys teamed up and helped out last night. GRAND-AM was great to let us stay until 8:30 last night to knock two more hours out of it, and it was just a full team effort to get that car out. We think we probably could have done a bit better with more track time in qualifying, but at the same time if that qualifying session had run the whole time, we might have gone backwards. So eighth place at this place is a great place to start. We started dead last last year because we missed the fan walk, and we were running fifth after a handful of laps, so where you start here isn’t nearly as important as where you finish.”
The team effort was one that brought even more motivation to young Bell, who will open the race from behind the wheel before turning the Camaro controls over to his teammate John Edwards in Friday’s two-hour race.
“Yesterday we kind of had a car-be-que, and you know got up to about medium rare on everything ahead of the fire wall,” said Bell, who finished second in the 2012 Championship with Stevenson Motorsports. “Everything had to be replaced above the subframe, so a lot of work had to be done. The whole Stevenson team, not just the GS team, which is astonishing on their own, the GT team even came over and missed half of a big team dinner that’s been planned forever to get the car ready for the new motor that came in early today. By the time I got here, everything was bolted on it, and they just had to kind of tie everything together and that’s pretty good work. An engine change alone take 3-5 hours depending on what they’re doing.
“All the wiring had to be fixed, so from taillights to headlights,” said Bell. “For them to do that much work in that short of a time including fixing all the wires and everything else is pretty amazing. I think we’re in a good position for tomorrow. We’ll look at data and make the changes we have to make before the race. I think we’ll be in a really solid position to—I don’t know if we’ll be fast enough to take the lead from Aston Martins, and Porsches, and probably that 61 Mustang, but I think we’re in a really good position to start the season off right.”
The Stevenson Motorsports crew will get some well-earned sleep on Thursday night before returning to the track for Friday’s BMW Performance 200, which is set to go green at 1:45 PM local time.