Apple Motorsports' Efforts End Early at the Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 5 - The York, Pa.-based Apple Motorsports team of Gary Stewart and his three nephews - Rob and Dave Stewart and Bob Gilbert - along with Guy Cosmo, had high hopes for...
Apple Motorsports' Efforts End Early at the Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 5 - The York, Pa.-based Apple Motorsports team of Gary Stewart and his three nephews - Rob and Dave Stewart and Bob Gilbert - along with Guy Cosmo, had high hopes for the Rolex 24 sports car race at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, but those hopes were dashed Saturday when an unfortunate incident ended its weekend early.
The incident occurred at the three-and-a-half-hour mark of the 24-hour race. Dave Stewart had just received the signal to pass the pace car under caution and was driving on Daytona's long back straightway when he was hit from behind.
"I was going down the backstraight behind a Ferrari and a Porsche. The Ferrari slammed on its brakes. I barely touched the Porsche in front of me, but the car behind ran right into me. I don't know who it was," he said.
The Apple Motorsports crew spent an hour making repairs in the garage area before the decision was made to withdraw from competition.
"The rear end is pretty badly damaged," stated team manager Michael Goss. "I don't feel it's safe to send them back out. We can make a repair, but it would be a Herculean effort. The guys' lives are more important than running around here for another 20 hours. It's not worth putting the car and guys at risk.
"It's just one of those unfortunate deals where we were trying to catch the pack under caution with people speeding up too quick, and one thing led to another. The car's hurt pretty bad but we'll take it back to York and go to work on it."
Cosmo, who took the green flag in the team's Porsche GT3 Cup car, was looking forward to returning to competition but "there is too much damage in the rear; some of the engine mounts are broken," he said.
"The structure of the rear chassis is bent and it's bad enough that it wouldn't be safe to continue," Cosmo continued. "We fixed the front completely and it should be fine, but we can't take a chance on running a car like that. We put up a good effort; we'll put our smiles back on in a little while and look forward to the next race."
While the Stewarts will return to York, the crew of the Apple Motorsports Porsche will stay in Florida to lend a hand to Lee Stauffer and the crew of the Apple Chevrolet sprint car piloted by Jeff Shepard. The 2005 season for sprint cars and late models kicks off in Florida, with the sprint cars returning to central Pennsylvania for the East Coast openers at Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, Pa. and Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. on Feb. 26 and 27, respectively.
Sighting a sprint car in central Pennsylvania comes as no surprise, as many area tracks host the powerful racers on a weekly basis. At the Rolex 24, where fans are more familiar with marques like Porsche and Ferrari, the sight of a sprint car draws curious stares.
That's what happened when the Apple Motorsports Porsche team rolled a spare sprint car chassis, complete with tail fuel tank, hood, seat and wing brackets, off its transporter in Daytona's garage area for about 45 minutes while they "repacked" to make room for the team's sports car. The Apple Chevrolet sprint car team, owned by Gary Stewart's brother Bob Stewart, used the extra space on the Porsche's team transporter to haul a spare sprint car chassis to Florida.