Daytona 24: Bell Motorsports first qualifying report

Borcheller Qualifies 15th for Rolex 24 in Kodak EasyShare DORAN Pontiac DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 - In Rolex 24 preliminaries at Daytona International Speedway Thursday, Terry Borcheller qualified 15th in the Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need ...

Borcheller Qualifies 15th for Rolex 24 in Kodak EasyShare DORAN Pontiac

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 - In Rolex 24 preliminaries at Daytona International Speedway Thursday, Terry Borcheller qualified 15th in the Bell Motorsports/Feeds the Need Racing Kodak EasyShare DORAN JE4 Pontiac #54.

The entry is the defending Rolex 24 winner.

Forest Barber, Christian Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy and Ralf Kelleners will share the driving duties with Borcheller in the twice-around-the-clock enduro, which will be televised live on SPEED beginning at noon Saturday.

Borcheller's fastest lap around the 3.56-mile road course during the 15-minute qualifying session was thwarted when the field was brought to a halt after the Rx.com DORAN JE4 BWM #8 stopped in turn six. When the action resumed time ran out before Borcheller could get back up to the speed he had previously enjoyed, ending up with a 1:49.366 (117.184 mph) qualifying time.

Scott Pruett won the pole with a 1:46.928 (119.856 mph).

The Kodak EasyShare team was tenth in the first practice session with a 1:50.494 (115.988 mph) and eighth in the second session with a 1:48.881 (117.706 mph). A third session will be held tonight from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Between practice sessions Thursday the team's drivers were introduced to the media at a press conference. At that time Barber, who is also the car owner, presented NASCAR and Grand American executive Jim France with an original 14-by-22-inch acrylic painting by Roger Warrick entitled "Kodak Moment." The painting shows the Kodak EasyShare car taking the lead in the late stages of last year's race enroute to its popular victory.

"Jim France's vision for this series is definitely working," Barber said in making the presentation. "We wouldn't be here without him, and we wanted to give him a little memento of the first overall win of a Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24. Hopefully he can find some place to hang it and when he sees it he will think of us and how much we appreciate everything he's done for us."

Also on hand for the press conference and the presentation was Bob Mayhue, manager, alliance marketing for the Eastman Kodak Company, the team's primary sponsor.

The team's car was also featured prominently in a full-page ad in Thursday's USA Today.

The team's Web site is at www.feedstheneedracing.com. The Grand American section of Kodak's Web site at www.Kodak.com/US/en/consumer/garr/.

Borcheller's Web site is at www.tborcheller.com; Christian Fittipaldi's is at www.fittipaldionline.com; Tracy's is at www.paultracy.com and Kelleners' is at www.kelleners-sport.com. Other interesting information can be found at www.grandamerican.com, www.speedtv.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

Driver quotes follow:

Terry Borcheller: "I'm just delighted to be here. I'm ecstatic about our driver line-up, and hope we can finish this race on Sunday.

"I don't know what happened in qualifying. The black flag came out on what was going to be my good lap, and I had to come into the pits.

"The car had a little too much oversteer, but I don't know what to say. I just didn't have a good lap."

Forest Barber: "Let's hope lighting strikes twice and we can win two of these in a row! That would be great!"

Christian Fittipaldi: "The competition is unbelievable; I predict the closest finish in Rolex 24 history. It's going to be very difficult, but when it comes down to the race, we have a good car and some tricks in our bag.

"This morning we were dealing with a low grip level due to the rain. We were running in race trim, and just bedding in brakes for the race and getting used to the track. We're not trying any qualifying set-ups; we're concentrating on our race set-up and being there at the end.

"It's like any form of racing; drivers always say there is never enough grip and never enough power; that's just the nature of racing from go karts to Grand Am to Formula 1 to CART. We're always fighting for more grip and more power.

"The whole key is to conserve tires for the whole race. You only get so many sets, so conserving tires is critical."

Paul Tracy: "This is completely different than my Champ Car. I wanted to do this race as a tune-up for the upcoming Champ Car season. I wanted to stay active. I'm fortunate to have aligned myself with a great team. Jim Bell has developed a team that is like a well-oiled machine that moves effortlessly, and I think we have a great shot at winning."

On the differences between a Daytona Prototype and a Champ Car:

"This car has a roof, unlike my Champ Car; that's one of the biggest differences. Just the power-to-weight ratio is a big difference. A Champ Car is 1,500 pounds and about 750 horsepower; a Daytona Prototype is about 2,500 pounds and has about 500 horsepower.

"The race is going to be fun. I can't wait to play tricks on Christian in the middle of the night!"

Ralf Kelleners: "You're very close to flat out here. It's going to be a fight right from the start. You're going to have to go as quickly as you can, without any mistakes."

-bms/lm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Scott Pruett , Terry Borcheller , Forest Barber