Car No. 54 finds victory lane in Rolex 24 Bell Motorsports captures twice-around-the-clock challenge. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 1, 2004) -- The twists and turns in the 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona never stopped. With 17 minutes...
Car No. 54 finds victory lane in Rolex 24 Bell Motorsports captures twice-around-the-clock challenge.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 1, 2004) -- The twists and turns in the 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona never stopped.
With 17 minutes remaining, the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford, which at one point owned a three-lap lead, fell victim to a suspension problem on the Superstretch opening the door for the No. 54 Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran and drivers Terry Borcheller, Forest Barber, Andy Pilgrim and Christian Fittipaldi to capture the overall Rolex 24 victory.
Bell Motorsports has now won the last three races at Daytona International Speedway. Last year, the No. 54 car captured both the Paul Revere 250 and the Grand American Champions Weekend presented by Brumos Porsche.
But in last year's Rolex 24, the No. 54 machine was the first Daytona Prototype out of the race, turning only 67 laps.
"It's astounding what can happen in 12 months. It's astounding what can happen in 24 hours," said owner and co-driver Forest Barber, who brought the car across the start/finish line for the checkered flag. "This team has worked so hard for a year to get ready for this day and here we are in Victory Lane."
Tony Stewart, who was teamed with fellow NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and sports car veteran Andy Wallace, was nursing the No. 2 car for the last hour with the suspension problem.
"Evidently a rocker was braking, which is your spring on the right rear corner," said Stewart after the car finally broke down. "That was the first major problem and it kept getting worse and worse."
Stewart says you'll see him back at the historic 3.56-mile road course battling for another Rolex 24 victory in the future.
"Hell yeah. We're going to win this thing."
Said Earnhardt Jr.: "I'm just glad that I can do a good job for Crawford. They put me in a (fast) race car and I don't do this everyday. This isn't my gig all the time. For them to invite me here says a lot about their class and their guts."
The conditions in the Rolex 24 were grueling, with most of the race held under cool temperatures, wind and rain. During the early morning hours, the race was run under caution for about 2 ½ hours and at 7:38 a.m., for the first time in 15 years, the Rolex 24 was red flagged for heavy rain and standing water. At 10:29 a.m., the race returned to green setting up a sprint to the finish.
The GT class battle was just as thrilling as the fight for the overall title.
The team of Mike Fitzgerald, Joe and Jay Policastro, Robin Liddell and Johnny Mowlem in the No. 44 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 RS captured the GT class victory (second overall) by a margin of victory of 6.9 seconds over the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup (third overall) and drivers Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman, Lonnie Pechnik, Peter Cunningham and Mike Rockenfeller.
"I think I have a few more gray hairs now than I did before," said Mowlem, who drove the final stint in the car.
In Super Grand Sport, the Doncaster Racing No. 91 Porsche GT3 Cup with Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Robert Julien, Greg Pootmans and Marc Lieb captured the Super Grand Sport crown and took the ninth-place position overall.
Next up at the Speedway is the stock car portion of Speedweeks 2004. Tickets for all Speedweeks 2004 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.