Daytona 24: Ford Racing Thursday qualifying notes

Veteran road racer Scott Maxwell paced the Daytona Prototype cars in qualifying today for the 41st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Maxwell earned the class pole in the first outing for the new Focus Prototype, a car developed by Multimatic, a...

Veteran road racer Scott Maxwell paced the Daytona Prototype cars in qualifying today for the 41st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Maxwell earned the class pole in the first outing for the new Focus Prototype, a car developed by Multimatic, a Canadian-based engineering company, and powered by Robert Yates Racing. The No. 88 Focus will start Saturday's 24-hour from the pole position, although it recorded the third fastest overall time. Under Grand-Am rules all six prototype entries will start from the first three rows.

SCOTT MAXWELL-88- Multimatic Motorsports Focus (Qualified 3rd):

"Like David (Donohue) said this race is barely won from the pole, but it's a thrill and a bonus for my guys. We've spent hundreds of hundreds of hours the past couple of months getting this car ready and we've really only had one test here back in early January, so I think it's a good reward for those guys, a bit of a bonus. We weren't expecting it, that's for sure. I have to thank David for giving me the world's greatest tow all around the banking; that I think helped lot."

HOW RELIABLE DO YOU EXPECT THIS CAR TO BE FOR 24 HOURS? "Unfortunately, we don't have the track record the Fabcar Porsche car does, yet, but having said that, the cars have run like a train for both the tests and this weekend, and I know that our guys put together a great car and we have a good driver lineup. Reliability is not our main fear at this point, but we don't have any proof to show that it can last 24 hours either. We'll do our best, and see what happens."

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE TEST TO CLOSE THE GAP TO THE OTHER PROTOTYPE CARS? "We've been throwing some stuff at it that, a good guess of what it needed. It's better, but it's still not where we want it to be. If you think about it, it's only the fourth day that this car has been on the track. We're still discovering stuff every time out. We think we're onto something, but it's not going to something that will help us this weekend. It's just the typical new-car problems, but they did a hell of a job putting it together."

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS GOING INTO THE RACE? "From a driver's perspective, we're worried about our rear tires. It's just moving around a lot. The car is pretty reasonable on stickers, but everybody's car is reasonable on stickers. We're finding we're getting loose after 40 or 50 miles and that's what we're trying to solve. We get the feel that you usually have after an hour on a set of tires after 50 miles, and we don't know what's going to happen after an hour and a half."

WHAT IS YOUR FUEL WINDOW FOR THE RACE? "It's a brand-new car, but we're guessing an hour. We really don't know yet."

YOU'RE NOT ONLY DEALING WITH A NEW CAR BUT A NEW TIRE COMPOUND AS WELL. HAS THAT COMPOUNDED THE LEARNING CURVE? "Everyone is using the same tires, so it's not a big deal that way. This car would love to have more tire, but half of the fun of trying to get these cars to work is the small tire patch, and you really have to take care of those tires. Perhaps, and I don't know, we're struggling a little more than most because we don't have a lot of track time on the car. Like I eluded to Larry (Holt), my main fear is making the car comfortable for an entire stint, an hour or two out there."

DO YOU FEEL THAT THE PROTOTYPE CAR IS THE PREMIER CAR IN THE SERIES EVEN THOUGH IT FAILED TO WIN THE POLE? "Sitting in the cockpit, and I'd think we'd say it across the board, it would be nice if we had a bit more horsepower. I understand why we don't, but I think if we wanted to look at something that would quickly separate us from the GTS class, horsepower is the most desired by a driver. But, all drivers want more horsepower until we can't keep the car on the track. We always want more horsepower."

DID YOU GET THE CLASS POLE BECAUSE OF THE DRAFT FROM THE NO. 58 CAR? "I think so. I think without the draft it would have been close, but the last time by I really got a tow down the main straightaway. Now having said that, he (Donohue) sort of blocked me going into (Turn) 1 so I lost a little time there. I definitely gained two or three tenths, and I think that's all I beat him by."

IS THAT ALL PART OF QUALIFYING? "That's part of the deal. I think he looked in the mirror and probably thought he knew what he was doing, but he can't get out of it either because it was his fast lap. At the time I didn't even realize it was David; I thought he was in the other car. It's not like we went out here today and said, 'Let's get the pole.' It was more like, 'let's put it in the race and keep working.' It's a bit of a bonus, for sure."

YOU'LL START THE RACE FROM THE POLE, BUT DO YOU VIEW THIS AS THE POLE? "You can only do as well as the class can allow and I think down the road these cars will be much quicker, but in this stage of the development, we have to look at it as the class pole. It would be great to be overall pole, but that Corvette is really quick."

LARRY HOLT, Team Manager/Vice President of Engineering-88- Multimatic Motorsports Focus:

IS THIS A BIT OF A SURPRISE? "No. The only thing that I'm surprised by is, unfortunately, we're third behind a couple of old GTS cars, which really isn't the point here. We're in the beginning of our development cycle and they're at the end of theirs, so you have to think about it from that perspective. As far as us, Multimatic and Ford, we're the fastest of the new cars, and that's what we're here to do and we did it."

YOU WILL START THE RACE ON THE POLE, BUT YOU DIDN'T RECORD THE OVERALL POLE SPEED. IS THAT A BITTERSWEET FEELING? "Yeah, I'm not so happy with the fact that the older-style GTS cars are faster. What Grand-Am is working on doing is trying to slow those guys down a little bit because this is the new premier class and they've got it wrong a little bit. Right now, that's the fastest that these cars are going to go; the fast guys are real close to each other, and the old cars are a second quicker still, so they didn't quite get the job done of getting them where they needed to be. In the race, Multimatic, we've run tube-frame cars before; we had our old Mustang GTS here in '98. And we always ran real well with that and qualified well, and they always run good for 10 hours, but tube-frame cars after 10 hours start to get a little old and start falling apart. Hopefully we have a car that will last."

WITH THE GTS CARS BEING FASTER THAN THE PROTOTYPE CARS, HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOUR RACE STRATEGY? "If I had a choice of starting this race anywhere, I'd start it in the back. I'd let them go and catch up to them because people get a little stupid at the start of this race. They want to get some camera action at the beginning and it's not really a good idea."

YOU LED THE ENGINEERING TEAM THAT DEVELOPED THIS CAR. HOW SPECIAL IS THIS ACHIEVEMENT? "I put a whole bunch of personal skin into the game with this and we've taken a big risk. Ford Motor Company has been great in this and so has Grand-Am; they've got a great new series here with these cars, so I put my faith in those guys and I think it's going to be hugely successful. This is a pretty special moment for me. This is probably the biggest thing Multimatic has done as an engineering program in its 17-year history. We've done chassis before, but this is the first entire car that we've done, and to come out the first time and be the fastest of everybody, it's a pretty good deal."

-ford-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Scott Maxwell , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing , Multimatic Motorsports