Spirit of Daytona Racing Gives Corvette Daytona Prototype First Trip to Victory Lane
LEEDS, Ala (March 31, 2012) – Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia scored a pair of firsts today at Barber Motorsports Park. The drivers of the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) gave Chevrolet’s new entry in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series (Rolex) its first trip to victory lane. It was also the first Rolex DP Class win for team owner Troy Flis and his Spirit of Daytona Racing team.
Starting from the pole, Westbrook took the lead and kept the No. 90 Corvette at the front of the field until Garcia took over the driving duties. Garcia maintained the top spot in the running order, except for pit stop exchanges, to take the checkered flag. The pair led 84 of the 103 laps on the way to the victory.
“The Corvette was amazing,” said Garcia. “Chevy team was perfect. So very, very glad to give Spirit of Daytona and Chevy team first victory here.”
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, finished second to give Chevrolet two podium positions for the second race of the season.
“It is fantastic to finally see our new Corvette Daytona Prototype in the winner’s circle,” said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “It has been a big effort by a lot of people. A lot of hard work; it is good to see that hard work finally pay off with this win. I hope it is the first of many to come for this beautiful new car. It surely is a confidence builder as we go forward. Barber Motorsports Park is a unique track format that we have run very well on. Hopefully this momentum will carry us forward through the rest of the season and we’ll have many wins to come.”
The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP driven by Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor finished fifth in DP and overall. Terry Borcheller, JC France and Joao Barbosa brought the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP across the finish line in seventh place.
After an early-race incident sent the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette to the garage for repairs, drivers Darren Law and David Donohue were scored ninth in class at the conclusion of the race.
In the Rolex Grand Touring Class (GT), the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R driven by Jordan Taylor and Paul Edwards finished sixth in class. Robin Liddell and Ronnie Bremer brought the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R to the checkered flag in seventh position in class.
In the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) race, the Grand Sport Class (GS) pole-winning Camaro GS.R fielded by CKS Autosport and driven by Lawson Aschenbach and Eric Curran were in contention for the win from the drop of the green flag. But, a late-race on-track incident dropped them back in the running order which forced them to settle for the eighth finishing position.
Other Camaro GS.R finishers in the two-and-a-half hour race were: No. 62 Mitchum Motorsports – 7th; No. 00 CKS Autosport - 10th; No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports – 11th and No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports – 18th.
Next on the Grand-Am Road Racing Series schedule for both Rolex and CTSCC is a stop at Homestead Miami Speedway on April 27-29, 2012.
CHEVROLET DRIVER POST RACE QUOTES:
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP, RACE WINNER: ON THE RACE: “Talk about a weekend of firsts. The first win for our team. The first win for the Corvette DP which is just incredible if you think about how new the car is. We’ve come a long way since Daytona. It didn’t meet our standards; we expected a little bit better. But we’ve worked so hard since then. Everyone at Chevrolet; everyone on the team. I am just so proud to be part of this program to score the first victory for the Spirit of Daytona.
“I have said before it is good to get the monkey off the back. The team hadn’t won before in DP. The whole crew, it is good for everyone. It is good for morale just to get the first victory out of the way. For me, it is especially pleasing. I watched this series back home and I know how tough it is. The standard that has been set by the Ganassi guys: to beat them at any time, you know you have done a very good job. I am just super proud.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP, RACE WINNER: ON THE RACE: “It was an amazing race. An amazing weekend I would say. We put the car on track and the first thing for us was that the tire configuration was just unbelievable. Since then, we just needed to work on that and that is what we did. The Spirit of Daytona did a really good job on that, and gave us a car, our Corvette, that we were able to do that. Richard (Westbrook, co-driver) did a really good first stint. And the second one, I just wanted to make a really good gap on the second place position. When I saw that the race was still green all the way through, I just decided to, because I saw the tire situation, just to stay there, not take many risks. I knew maybe a yellow would come, and for sure, it did with two laps to go. A little bit of panic everywhere I believe. But, it really paid off because as soon as I push again, the car was there. The Corvette was amazing. Chevy team was perfect. So very, very glad to give Spirit of Daytona and Chevy team first victory here.
“First victory for Spirit of Daytona is great. First victory for Corvette DP is even better. I think that is what we needed. Since we started two and a half years ago with Troy (Flis, team owner), the Spirit of Daytona has made a really good effort. I think probably the key we needed was to have to have the combination of Chevrolet and Corvette with us. That was what we put together, and finally today we had the result.”
JON FOGARTY, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CORVETTE DP, FINISHED 2ND: ON HIS RACE: “We were all spread out going into turn one and I came out clean. I tried to hang with Richard (Westbrook) in the No. 90 car (Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP) for like three-quarters of a lap; and then realized they just had good pace. I also noticed he was starting on fresh stickers and I was starting on my qualifiers so immediately I switched to a fuel conservation map. I was basically trying to maintain a position and at the same time trying to save fuel so if the yellow came out and we all pitted together maybe we would be able to take on less than those guys and leap frog them in the pits. But, that never happened. It was a good result for the guys. Handed the car over to Alex (Gurney, co-driver), and he did a great job and now we are up here on the podium.”
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A CHANCE TO GET THE NO. 90 ON THAT LAST RESTART? “I mean, you never know. Obviously they had a really good pace. Restarts are tricky. You can easily pick up something on your tires. Maybe they aren’t warmed up just right. I thought there was a chance. I was certainly worried about the No. 01 which had gone to stickers. From where we were and the life of the tires, that was going to be a problem. That was probably a gain of about four seconds a lap, something like that. That would add up in a hurry. I was focused on that a little bit too. I saw maybe half way through the first lap that Antonio was getting away, so from that point on I just tried to hang on to second.”
ALEX GURNEY, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CORVETTE DP, FINISHED 2ND: ON HIS RACE: “I think it was a good day for us. We knew from last year that the No. 90 car (Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP) had something magic for around here. We wondered if it was going to transfer over to the Corvette and it seemed like it did. We feel like we gained on them; at least compared to last year. Still, they obviously had the pace. My run, I spent a lot of the time it seemed like sitting behind (Joao) Barbosa; he was tough to get by even though he was a lap down. I didn’t help me much. Our car ran pretty good. The tires hung in there okay. We were definitely trying to take it easy on them because we knew that at the very end of a stint they have a pretty significant falloff. We hung in there. At the very end, with (Scott) Pruett getting that yellow and being on new tires, we knew that was going to be close. But, I realized it was just enough laps to where he wouldn’t catch me and it turned out just right. One more and we would have been toast. Anyway, a good run for us and a good points day.”