VIR: Pre-race notes

Goossens Looks to Continue Momentum at VIR; Hyper Sport Promoting Dempsey Movie ALTON, Va. (April 25, 2008) -- Quietly, Riley-Matthews Motorsports has taken its place among the powerhouse teams in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series...

Goossens Looks to Continue Momentum at VIR; Hyper Sport Promoting Dempsey Movie

ALTON, Va. (April 25, 2008) -- Quietly, Riley-Matthews Motorsports has taken its place among the powerhouse teams in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cask No. 16. The team captured its first Daytona Prototype victory in the 2007 season finale at Salt Lake City's Miller Motorsports Park, and is coming off a victory in last weekend's race at Mexico City.

This weekend, Mark Goossens and Jim Matthews will be looking to capture its third victory in five races in Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway.

"If you look at the last seven races, we've had top-10 finishes," Goossens said. "It seems we're never quite there in qualifying, but we seem to get a handle on the car when we get to the race. Everybody says we have to build on this momentum, which is what we're trying to do, obviously, but it's not an easy task to win every week in Grand-Am. There's tough competition here. There are many tough teams, good engineers and good drivers. That makes it interesting and harder."

Matthews helped prepare for the week by participating in Thursday's Skip Barber Series National testing.

"It's obviously a different type of car, but we've a very good driver coach with us in Barry Waddell," Goossens said. "Track time is a key thing for Jim, whether it's in a Skip Barber formula car or a Daytona Prototype. The more he drives, the better it goes for him."

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Hyper Sport Promoting Dempsey Movie: While Patrick Dempsey's name is not on the roof of the No. 40 Hyper Sport entry this weekend, his picture is on the door of the Mazda RX-8 to be driven by Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub.

The team is using the race to promote Dempsey's newest film, Made of Honor, which debuts on May 2, and has a giant promotional photo of the actor/driver on both sides of the car. Dempsey, who has competed this year in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and at Homestead-Miami Speedway, competes in the Grand-Am Rolex Series GT class when his schedule permits.

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Beyer Motorsports Debuting at VIR: The event will mark the debut of a team in the Daytona Prototypes, with 18-year-olds Jared Beyer and Ricky Taylor joining Andy Wallace in the No. 19 Beyer Motorsports Ford Crawford.

"The whole Crawford team has really welcomed me into the team like family already," said Taylor. "Testing has gone real well and we've already made a number of changes to the car. I'm excited."

Taylor has one Rolex Series start. He joined his father, Wayne Taylor, plus Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, leading the race in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley.

"The Daytona Prototype format is a really good format where all of the cars are really close," Taylor said. "The jump from the Riley to the Crawford wasn't too bad."

To assist his preparation for his first Rolex Series start, Beyer tested in the Barber Series here Thursday, where he was sixth fastest.

"When we tested our Daytona Prototype here, we used the North course," Beyer said. "Testing here in the Barber car yesterday was a huge help to learn the track, and also helped calm my nerves a little bit. I actually found it a bit easier to run the whole course. The transition section of the North course is very technical."

Beyer graduated from high school in San Antonio, Texas, last December to concentrate on his racing.

"I took night classes to graduate early," Beyer said. "They were not going to let me take off time from school to go racing. They didn't understand how much I want to do this."

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SunTrust, Rum Bum Have Rebuilt Cars for Bosch Engineering 250: Both the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara and No. 7 Rum Bum Racing BMW Riley have been rebuilt following Saturday's accident during the race at Mexico City.

"We literally had to replace every panel on the car," SunTrust Racing car owner Wayne Taylor said of the car driven by Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante. "Everything but the left-hand sidepod and the cockpit were damaged."

SunTrust has been involved in accidents at both Homestead-Miami Speedway and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, after falling behind with an electrical problem en route to finishing fifth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"We just need a break," Taylor said. "We've got a big shortfall in the points. We've been developing the Dallara and making it the best car in Grand-Am. So far, it seems pretty fast."

Rum Bum Racing was running second at Mexico before the incident sidelined the car of Gene Sigal and Matt Plumb.

"We replaced the bellhousing, gear box and a lot of the bodywork," team manager Emmanuel Lupe said. "After such a crash, you've got to look at everything on the car."

While the team is running the original Riley bodywork, Lupe said that the team will take both of its cars to the Riley facilities to have them updated to the new bodywork following the VIR event.

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Kimber-Smith Substituting for Garcia at Cheever Racing for VIR: Tom Kimber-Smith is not only making his first career Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Daytona Prototype start this weekend, he is also making his first race start of any kind this season in Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250.

Kimber-Smith was part of the No. 51 Cheever Racing Pontiac Coyote for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, but the car was retired before he got a chance to drive. He participated in a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway thereafter, and is excited to make the first start at VIR. This weekend, Kimber-Smith is substituting for Spaniard Antonio Garcia, who had already committed to racing in Europe before signing with Cheever's team.

"It's going to be fun to get in a car without all of those driving aids," said Kimber-Smith, who first tested a Daytona Prototype two years ago with SAMAX. "They're really fun to drive. They do get hot, but it's something we're all going to have to deal with.

"I've always wanted to come out to America and race," Kimber-Smith said. "It's such a spectacle. Eddie and I have developed a good relationship. I didn't get a chance to drive the car at Daytona, so I'm really looking forward to driving this weekend.

The Englishman has raced in Europe during most of his career and has added a handful of races in the U.S. over the past two seasons.

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Johnson Moves to Farnbacher Loles for VIR: Former NFL receiver Steve Johnson joins a new team this weekend. Johnson, a Bristol, Va., resident who formerly played tight end with the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, competed previously with Synergy before moving to the No. 88 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 for VIR and additional events this season.

Dave Lacey is one of the team's fulltime drivers, and will co-drive with Johnson this weekend.

-credit: ga

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Antonio Garcia , Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante , Max Angelelli , Jim Matthews , Skip Barber , Charles Espenlaub , Dave Lacey , Matt Plumb , Gene Sigal , Joe Foster , Patrick Dempsey , Jared Beyer , Barry Waddell
Teams Rum Bum Racing