Collins to Join Theys at Homestead This Weekend in Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Lexus ...
Collins to Join Theys at Homestead This Weekend in Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Lexus #27
LEBANON, Ohio, Sept. 14 - Hurricane Frances not only caused the Miami 250 Rolex series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to be postponed until this coming Sunday morning, but the storm also altered Doran-Lista Racing's drivers line-up for that event.
Jan Magnussen was originally scheduled to co-drive with Didier Theys in the Doran-Lista DORAN JE4 Lexus #27 at Homestead, but when the race was postponed one week he became unavailable due to a previous commitment to compete in a race in Europe. Team owner Kevin Doran and Theys studied the list of drivers available to substitute for Magnussen at Homestead, and today they announced they'd chosen Kelly Collins of Newport Beach, Calif. to fill that role.
Collins is most well known as a factory Corvette driver, but he has driven DORAN JE4s in five Rolex series races already this year. Theys said that was a key factor in their decision, since "we wanted someone who has experience with these cars."
Collins was one of the G&W Motorsports drivers who finished second in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead in February in a DORAN JE4 BMW. He also has a third overall (Phoenix), a seventh overall (Mont-Tremblant) and a 12th in class (Watkins Glen six-hours) in that car and a fourth in class in this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona in the Michael Shank Racing DORAN JE4 Lexus.
"I probably am the most diversified DORAN JE4 driver," Collins noted. "After this weekend I'll have driven all of them except the Bell Motorsports car, and I like the cars very much. I just met Kevin Doran at Daytona this year when I was driving for Michael Shank. I think he's a cool, low-key guy, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend's race at Homestead."
He steps into the car that not only scored an extremely popular victory in the series' last race, which was held at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Aug. 13, but also the car that should have finished first or second in the February race at Homestead. Magnussen was going for the lead in that event with just a handful of laps to go when he had a controversial tangle with Max Papis, resulting in an uncharacteristic DNF. If it hadn't been for that incident and an accident at Phoenix, the Lebanon, Ohio-based team could be as high as second or third in the Daytona Prototype team standings instead of fifth, where it lies heading into Homestead.
"We were quite OK at Homestead that time, but it was early in the season before anybody tested," pointed out Theys, the series' driver champion in 2002. "Now it is a different story because everybody has tested. We'll see.
"Our car and our Lexus engine were quite good there in February though," he admitted. "We definitely had an improvement in the car at Watkins Glen, and hopefully it will also show at Homestead. We should be contenders, for sure."
Although this will be his first appearance with Doran-Lista Racing, Collins has an impressive resume that includes a GT class victory in the Rolex 24 and at the 12 Hours of Sebring in an Alex Job Porsche in 1999. He was a member of the factory Chevrolet Corvette team in the American Le Mans Series for four and a half years, and he is one of only four drivers to have won at least one race in each of the first five years of that series.
Collins also competes in the Grand-Am Cup series. He and co-driver Blake Rosser won that series' last race, which was held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month.
When the Homestead race was postponed last weekend its schedule was also compressed, making Doran and Theys' strategy of choosing a driver with previous experience in a DORAN JE4 even wiser. There are only two hours of practice on the revised schedule on Saturday (beginning 9:25 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively), and no qualifying. If the field is set by points which has been the practice when qualifying wasn't held in the past, the Doran-Lista team will start fifth.
The only other track time for the team prior to the race is a half-hour warm-up session on Sunday at 8:40 a.m. The 250-mile, 109-lap, two-hour-and-45-minute race is slated to get the green flag Sunday at 11 a.m. It will be televised live on SPEED.
Following Sunday's race only three events will remain in 2004 and they're all in October: Oct. 1-3, Virginia Int'l Raceway; Oct. 8-10, Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama; and Oct. 28-31, California Speedway.
For more information see www.lista.com, www.listaintl.com, www.doranracing.com, www.grandamerican.com, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com and www.restartcommunications.com.