PLAYBOY RACING/UNIDEN TEAM FINISHES 6TH IN 44TH RUNNING OF THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA Daytona Beach, Florida (Jan. 29, 2006) -- The ...
PLAYBOY RACING/UNIDEN TEAM FINISHES 6TH IN 44TH RUNNING OF THE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA
Daytona Beach, Florida (Jan. 29, 2006) -- The #19 Playboy Racing / Uniden/Palms Casino Resort/Vonage team finished 6th in this weekend's 44th running of the legendary twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Co-drivers Memo Gidley, Michael McDowell and IRL star Alex Barron gave the team's Ford-powered Crawford prototype it's baptism of fire in one of the world's toughest auto races, leading almost 40 laps in the early going, falling as far back as 34th with mechanical problems early in the race, then running the final 12 hours without a hitch. The race was won by the #02 Target Chip Ganassi team.
The driving duo of Gidley and McDowell combined to take the #19 team to a 6th-place finish in the Grand American Rolex Series championship last year, scoring five top-5 and ten top-10 finishes, ending the year with a win from the pole at the series' season finale in Mexico City.
The top-6 finish in this weekend's main event was the second good result in two days for the Playboy Racing team; on Saturday, the #15 Playboy Racing/Palms Casino Resort Ford Mustang co-driven by McDowell and Rob Finlay scored a 3rd-place podium finish in its first outing of the 2006 season.
"We led the early portions of the race and were feeling confident in having the speed to do the job, but we had a couple of mechanical issues with the car that cost us some time in the garage," said Gidley, who qualified the car in 6th during Friday's 15-minute qualifying session and took the green flag at the start of the race on Saturday at 12 noon. "The team did a tremendous job to get us back on track and running without problems to the end. A top-six finish is a huge accomplishment at this race, and it's a great way to start off our partnership with new team sponsors Playboy Racing, Uniden, the Palms Casino and Vonage. It sure doesn't hurt to know that some of the most beautiful girls in the world are standing in the pits rooting for you."
It seemed like a lot longer race than last year, but that was because last time we spent so many laps in the garage that we all had plenty of time to sleep," said McDowell, who won the 2004 Star Formula Mazda Championship with 7 wins and 6 pole positions. "We pulled some garage time this year, too, but a lot less, thanks to the crew. These guys are heroes, and we owe this result to them getting us back on track. We got back ten laps during the race so our strategy and pit work was great, and to be part of this driving team was a real privilege."
"This was my first race with the team, and I have to say that it was a genuinely impressive experience," said Barron, who was the 2002 Indy 500 Co-Rookie of the Year and finished 11th in the 2005 Indy Racing League championship driving for Red Bull Cheever Racing. "Naturally the cars aren't as fast as the IRL cars I'm used to, but the #19 Playboy Racing team was thoroughly prepared and incredibly professional, a real first-class operation. The car was pretty well used up by the end of the race, but it ran the last fifteen hours without a problem and we were able to run competitively right up to the checkered flag."