Utah: Doran Racing race report

Doran Racing has fast weekend at Miller; finishes 14th after taking a spin early in the race TOOELE, Utah - With a new engine in the car, and a quick week of practice and qualifying, Memo Gidley started the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford ...

Doran Racing has fast weekend at Miller; finishes 14th after taking a spin early in the race

TOOELE, Utah - With a new engine in the car, and a quick week of practice and qualifying, Memo Gidley started the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Daytona Prototype in sixth and ended the day in 14th in the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park.

He may have started in sixth, but Gidley quickly moved up to third place by the end of the first lap. He maintained third position for the first hour of the race before falling slightly off the pace and into fourth. On lap 27 he pulled into the pits for the first driver change of the race and handed over the reins to co-driver Brad Jaeger.

"The car was great," said Gidley. "You never kind of know what you're going to do until it happens in front of you. I noticed a lot of guys going to the inside. It was a pretty clean start, everybody was pretty much side-by- side, but there was definitely a lot of fanning going on to the inside.

Jaeger jumped in the Ford-powered machine and raced off pit road and back up to 10th place. He was able to move up another position to ninth position before spinning off the track on lap 33.

"Unfortunately, the gearbox was stuck in second when I spun around, so the engine wouldn't fire up," said Jaeger. "All it took was someone to push me a little bit to get it back into neutral and unfortunately it took three laps to get to me."

The three laps lost during the early spin may have cost the team a chance at the win, but as the first race back in a few months, team owner Kevin Doran, was satisfied and excited by his team's success over the weekend and is optimistic about the 2008 season.

"It's a great feeling just being competitive," said Doran. "We're used to winning a lot of races in Grand-Am and in sports car racing, and the last two years have been really, really lean. We've had two years without a win and prior to that we've never had a season without a winning sort of record. This is looking really cool for '08 and I think that we can be competitive."

As the only Ford-powered team running in the 2007 season, Doran Racing took some time off near the end of the season to work on getting the car back into competitive form. Part of the team working on the car included John Maddox with Roush-Yates Racing Engine Shop, who helped improve on Ford's DP engine.

"This one has a new cylinder head and a new manifold," said Maddox. "We ran this package in the Multimatic car in Montreal, but unfortunately they ran it through the gravel and messed up a belt, so we didn't have a lot of race time on this engine package. Now we've got an entire weekend, plus a seven-hour race on the package. That's a good test going forward towards longer races. It was good in the corners and it was good on the stratightaways. It was a great test for this package."

This weekend's race marked the end of the 2007 Rolex Series season, but if Doran Racing's performance out on the track this weekend is any indication of what is to come from them in the future, look to them at the top of the charts starting at the 2008 Rolex 24-Hour at Daytona International Speedway.

Memo Gidley - No. 77 Feeds the Need/Doran Racing Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Ford (Finished 14th)

ON HIS FIRST STINT. "The car was great. You never kind of know what you're going to do until it happens in front of you. I noticed a lot of guys going to the inside. It was a pretty clean start, everybody was pretty much side by side, but there was definitely a lot of fanning going on to the inside. The front row was going to the inside and I saw brake lights come on and I knew I was going to have to overslow it. I just ran around the outside. Normally it's not that easy, but the car is working well and can attack and be aggressive and the motor was working great. It all is just working out really good."

PRETTY QUICKLY, YOU WERE ONLY THREE SECONDS BEHIND THE LEADERS. "It was very close. Early on, the car was real strong and then it started to slide around a little bit and worked the tires a little harder than I wanted. That kind of put me in defense mode a little bit early. I g! ot a good brake in a bunch of traffic and was able to stretch back out about five or six seconds and get some breathing room. Even though I wasn't as fast as the guys behind me, I was still able to be consistent and they didn't catch me that quickly."

DESPITE THE TROUBLE WITH THE ONE SPIN WITH THE TEAM, A GOOD FAST WEEKEND FOR THE NO. 77. "I think we came here to prove a point, and I think we did that. The Doran and Kodak team, these guys have worked the past few months to make that car competitive, and they worked long hours and I appreciate that because it's a team sport. Also with Ford, making a new motor when we're the only team out here running with a Ford engine, it really made a difference. To qualify six and to run third in the beginning part of the race was great. We had a little problem in the second stint, but after that were one of the fastest cars out on the track. We had a bar break at the end, which caused a lot of understeer, but otherwise the car was beauti! ful. Thanks to Kevin, thanks to Dallara guys for coming out he! re and t hanks to Ford."

Brad Jaeger - No. 77 Feeds the Need/Doran Racing Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Ford (Finished 14th)

WHAT HAPPENED EARLY IN YOUR FIRST STINT WHEN YOU GOT TURNED AROUND? "From the get go, we were dealing with an understeering problem even from when Memo was driving, so we tried to lower the pressures to help with the understeer. It definitely helped with the understeer but then it was creating too much load on the front end and when you really asked the front end to work a lot it would quit. Right in the middle of the corner when I got around, that was really the first time I went quick through that corner, the power steering quit on me. Unfortunately, the gearbox was stuck in second when I spun around, so the engine wouldn't fire up. All it took was someone to push me a little bit to get it back into neutral and unfortunately it took three laps to get to me.

OVERALL, YOU GUYS WERE QUICK ALL WEEKEND. "Yes. The car has been great all weekend long. The power steering was a little bit of an issue, but you're going to go through that sort of thing when you're developing a car! . If we were just able to get going after the spin, I think we would have been able to stay on the lead lap and have a good finish."

YOU COMPETED THIS YEAR IN THE INDY PRO SERIES. IS THERE ANY TRANSFER FROM THAT SERIES TO HERE AS FAR AS HOW YOU DRIVE THE CAR? "Well, racing is racing. But as far as the car goes, maybe a little bit, but they are very different. It's like anything, it takes a weekend to get used to a car when you switch. I'm looking forward to doing more races in the future with Doran Racing and Kevin [Doran].

Kevin Doran - Owner, No. 77 Kodak Doran Racing Daytona Prototype

YOUR TEAM CAME OFF THE TRAILER QUICK THIS WEEKEND. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES THAT YOU'VE MADE WITHIN YOUR PROGRAM THAT ALLOWED YOU TO COME OUT AND BE COMPETITIVE? "It's been almost two months since we've run. It just became obvious that we weren't quick enough with the old car, so we requested two updates from Grand-Am and received approval in March, and we were working on them throughout the season, but we finally decided to just stop racing and go ahead and do the updates and get them implemented this year to get a head start on '08. The car has been great. Right out of the box we were quick. We were third in this morning's warm up and qualified sixth and had a top-five pace pretty much all race, except for that one spin that we had. The motor wouldn't re-fire and that cost us three laps."

IT'S GOT TO BE SORT OF A RELIEF TO COME BACK AFTER PUTTING IN A LOT OF WORK TO UPDATE THE CAR AND THEN BE IN TH! E TOP 10 FOR ALL PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING SESSIONS. "Yes, it's a great feeling just being competitive. We're used to winning a lot of races in Grand-Am and in sports car racing, and the last two years have been really, really lean. We've had two years without a win and prior to that we've never had a season without a winning sort of record. This is looking really cool for '08 and I think that we can be competitive."

John Maddox - Roush-Yates Racing Engine Shop

DORAN RACING HAD A NEW ENGINE IN THE CAR FOR TODAY'S RACE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT'S DIFFERENT WITH THIS ENGINE COMPARED TO WHAT THEY WERE RUNNING WITH EARLIER IN THE YEAR? "This one has a new cylinder head and a new manifold," said Maddox. "We ran this package in the Multimatic car in Montreal, but unfortunately they ran it through the gravel and messed up a belt, so we didn't have a lot of race time on this engine package. Now we've got an entire weekend, plus a seven-hour race on the package. That's a good test going forward towards longer races. It was good in the corners and it was good on the stratightaways. It was a great test for this package."

-credit: dr/mg

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Brad Jaeger , Kevin Doran
Teams Yates Racing , Doran Racing