February 4, 2002 Road Atlanta, GA -- Defending SRPII class champions Archangel Motorsports earned a second-in-class podium appearance and a remarkable 6th place overall at the 40th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The legendary...
February 4, 2002 Road Atlanta, GA -- Defending SRPII class champions Archangel Motorsports earned a second-in-class podium appearance and a remarkable 6th place overall at the 40th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The legendary endurance event began at 1:00p.m. EST on Saturday - with the checkered flag waving at 1:00p.m. EST on Sunday.
The team's second place class win, and 6th overall finish, was the result of remarkable driving by each and every team driver, and the determination and skill of the team's crew.
Archangels #22 Nissan Lola B2K/40, expertly piloted by Steve Knight, Mel Hawkins, Chad Block and Brian DeVries, secured the second position by crossing the finish line after completing 670 laps during the 24-hour race.
Block, team starter in the #22, began the race 2nd in class and 30th overall. By the end of the second hour Block and fellow driver Knight had skillfully placed the car in the top ten overall -- increasing their overall position by 20 spots!
With the added effort and experience of teammates Hawkins and DeVries, the foursome maintained their pursuit throughout the race, steadfastly maintaining their second in class position and improving their overall position to a well-earned 6th place overall!
The team's #21 Nissan Lola B2K/40 car excelled in the event as well, starting back in the pack in the 43rd position - with Clinton behind the wheel - the effort quickly advanced from 6th in class to 3rd in class within the first 40 minutes -- and while maintaining the class position -- rocketed from 43rd overall to 16th overall in the first two hours of the race!
Clinton and teammates Tillman, Francois and Connor very capably held on to the third- in-class position, and reaching as high as 10th overall, until an unfortunate mechanical failure in the tenth hour forced the car behind the wall and dashed the hopes of the worthy drivers.
The hard work and long hours of Archangel's well-regarded drivers and crew were paying off, as evidenced by both cars safely at 2nd and 3rd in class, and as high as 8th and 10th overall when, in the tenth hour, the team's crew and drivers were severely tested. Within a five-minute span, both cars were in the pits. The #22, involved in a crash, came in with nose and wing damage, as well as damage to the right front and left rear suspension. The #21 came in due to the appearance of smoke. The team first focused on the #22, and sent it back on track in record time. The #21's troubles were more serious, requiring three hours behind the wall before being sent back out -- only to be forced back behind the wall 8 laps later, with the reappearance of smoke. Where many teams may have given up at this point, the crew once again worked fast and hard for yet another three hours -- only to have the car ultimately retired at 0600 with an irreparable crack in the engine block. As a testimony to the performance of the Nissan powerplant, the #22, even with the smoke, was turning the fastest in-class laps of the race just prior to being taken out.
The Grand-Am Series most certainly does not ease into the start of the season, but begins with one of the most difficult and demanding sportscar races in the world -- the Rolex 24. For Grand-Am teams, the process of coming out of a three-month off-season faced with the most difficult race of the entire new season is a daunting one. Faced with the adversity experienced at the Rolex 24 - it is in this regard that the Archangel team distinguished themselves with high marks.
"As defending class champions, we most definitely gave our all toward repeating last year's win, says team owner Mike Johnson. Last year we finished first in class, but 13th overall. This year we finished 6th overall. I'll take that gladly, and with pride -- yes we would have needed to beat one team to be first in class -- but I see it as beating seven teams to reach 6th overall."
"I can't say enough, added Johnson, about our drivers and our crew. All involved in this year's assault on the Rolex put forth the highest standard of effort. As a team owner I couldn't have asked for anything more -- or be more proud. I congratulate my worthy competitors and class winner Rand Racing -- as always, they put up a tough fight. As a team we look forward to Miami and taking our success at the Rolex to the next level."
The team's next event will be the 250 mile/3 hour race at Homestead-Miami Raceway in Florida on March 2, 2002.