The popular squad scored a double-podium finish.
Daytona Beach, Fla. – Stevenson Motorsports continued to make a strong start to the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season as the popular squad scored a double-podium finish in the Daytona 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.
Racing on a track that has been stingy with its racing fortunes for the team in the past, Stevenson Motorsports got a nearly ideal launch to the season as the the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R crossed the finish line just a few seconds behind the race winner to score second place as Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell combined for the big result.
Following just a blink behind in Liddell’s tire tracks was the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Z/28.R of Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell, with Aschenbach taking the car to the third place finish in his debut outing with the team.
I couldn’t be more honored and more proud to join this team this year.
The result not only marked a strong opening effort in the 10-race championship campaign, but it was also a very clear demonstration of the progress that has been made with the capable Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R machine, just one fast year after its competition debut at this track.
“We’ve not had the best of luck here at Daytona, so to get the year started like this is almost more than we could have hoped for,” said team owner John Stevenson. “And it didn’t come easy. We had to work through a lot of things that came up this weekend but I’m terribly proud of the team effort. Of course our drivers did an outstanding job today so I’m really excited to start the year off like this.”
Making the champagne celebrations even sweeter was the significant team effort that went into the weekend, as the Stevenson crew had to put in some extra hours to diagnose and fix some issues to have the Camaros prepared to deliver the strong performance that it took to score a strong result in a race that ran at a frantic pace for nearly its entire two and a half hour duration.
“Absolutely, I’m very happy to be on the podium today,” said Liddell. “We obviously had a tough start last year. We still had our challenges in the race today. I know throughout the weekend we changed and put a lot of new parts on the car over the course of the practice days and ultimately the car performed flawlessly. Both team cars did, so, very happy with the result for the team and for Chevy.”
In 2014, Liddell and Davis were the first to break through to victory lane with the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R, winning at Sebring, and they will hope that the Daytona runner-up finish is followed once again by a big outing in Sebring in March.
“Our Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R ran really well,” said Davis. “I think we about maximized the performance. The Stevenson Motorsports guys worked really hard, and we have a great car. But when we get on the banking, our competitors are considerably faster than us. You have to play that game, and the game is not to get frustrated. The good thing is that we can pull up to them in the draft, but when I pull out to pass they would pull out another car length. It just takes a little bit of defensive driving and I can’t get by. Overall, it was fun. Our Camaro Z/28.R was very strong.”
The No. 9 Camaro Z/28.R of Bell and Aschenbach swapped drivers and took on fuel on lap 27 as the team staged a well-orchestrated double car pit stop. A caution on lap 43 gave Aschenbach the fuel to make it to the finish as he rejoined the field in eighth before moving up to third on lap 61.
“Matt (Bell) did a great job in the beginning of the race,” said Aschenbach, who won a championship behind the wheel of a Camaro in 2014. “To think that we would get out of here the first weekend of the year in Daytona, probably our worst track with a second and third place is pretty awesome. It was great racing there with Robin (Liddell) at the end. It’s been awesome getting to know everybody on the team. Our Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R was honestly fast all weekend. I couldn’t be more honored and more proud to join this team this year. I’m looking forward to hopefully a lot more success this year.
“My Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R was as good as it’s been all weekend,” said Bell. “We didn’t really start wrenching on this car until qualifying. We were kind of behind in the game due to some mechanical problems and seeing which way to go with it. We got it right for qualifying, and to have it handle like this for this long is awesome. Andrew (Davis) and I hooked up early, and we tried to stay together. It all worked out well.”
The team will look forward to building the momentum again in six weeks time for Round 2 of the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season with the Sebring 200 on March 20.