Daytona 24: Spirit of Daytona race report

Spirit of Daytona delivers highest Porsche DP finish in Rolex 24 At Daytona with top-ten class effort DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (28 January 2008) -- After 24 hours and over 2,300 miles of intense racing competition at the World Center of Speed, the...

Spirit of Daytona delivers highest Porsche DP finish in Rolex 24 At Daytona with top-ten class effort

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (28 January 2008) -- After 24 hours and over 2,300 miles of intense racing competition at the World Center of Speed, the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche-powered Fabcar crossed the Daytona International Speedway finish line just after 1:30 PM on Sunday morning to take tenth in the Daytona Prototype class. The result marked the best result for a Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype in the 2008 running of the famed event.

Michael McDowell, Guy Cosmo, and Marc Camirand shared the driving duties through a long night and day of racing in conditions that packed everything from full rain downpours at night, to a bright sun-filled day at the finish as the innovative new Porsche/Fabcar combination continued to impress despite going up against a field full of Daytona Prototype combinations that already had a head start of several years' worth of development.

Sprit of Daytona Racing continues to guide the development for the Lozano-Brothers prepared Porsche powerplant teamed with the Fabcar chassis, and the race completion marked another important milestone for the combination, which also completed the race in its competition debut in the Rolex Sports Car Series finale 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park in September.

"This is a great foot forward for this program and to take a top-ten result with a package that's basically brand-new shows that there is a tremendous amount of potential here," said team owner Troy Flis. "I'm really proud of the effort that the entire Spirit of Daytona crew put in just to be ready for the weekend, and I know we leaned pretty hard on this driver line up with just three guys in the car. But fortunately we had the right three guys in there, and were able to keep everything moving forward all race long. We learned a ton, and now we're just anxious to put that info to use the next time we get the chance to."

The Spirit of Daytona race effort was thought to suffer a setback early in the race weekend when the powerplant overheated and sent the car back to the garage to address the radiator issue, but the team was able to get everything sorted and present the car for the grid for the 46th running of the Rolex Sports Car Series season opener. After fighting through the pack and through some early setbacks, the overheating issue reared its head late in the race night when grass and track debris deprived the radiator from getting precious air for cooling.

"This motor overheated twice during the weekend and frankly just one of those would have knocked any other motor down for the count," said Cosmo. "But once they cleared out the rads and got the fluids sorted out, it just went back on track and kept pounding out the solid laps right to the finish. I'm amazed. That's the kind of stout reliability that's crucial if you want to finish this race. It's great to get to the finish-I've never done that before and it's been a long day and night, but it feels fantastic!"

It wasn't just the drivers and the car that were pitting in a big effort, as the full Spirit of Daytona organization rallied to deliver the strongest race package possible.

"It's crazy, these crew guys have been at the shop every night to midnight, through the holidays, every day until this race weekend got going, and then on top of that they are on call for 24 hours to keep this car going strong, so my hats off to these guys, just an amazing effort from them," said Camirand. "It is so rewarding to make it to the finish with this car because it is very very hard to just finish this race and for us to be in the top ten the first time out in this event with this package, it's really a good feeling for everyone here on this Spirit of Daytona team."

Taking the checkered flag at the finish was McDowell, who over the course of the weekend also participated in some media announcements touting the next steps in his rapidly accelerating career, as he is slated for 30 Sprint Cup appearances in the 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry for the 2008 NASCAR season. But once the race action started, the affable Arizona native showed why he was so highly touted in his years as a full-time Rolex racer.

"I had fun out there and even though there were some tough stints with the rain and everything, that's just a great challenge for the drivers to take on, and I loved it," said McDowell. "I didn't really feel rusty at all, but if I had, I would have knocked it all off this weekend with all the miles we put in behind the wheel! It's great to make it to the finish because this is a really tough race-you walk back to the garages and you see some really strong car and team combinations already packing up and that reminds you how tough it can be to get to the checkered flag like we did today. We know there's more work to do with this car, this whole race weekend was a big move forward for everything and I look forward to seeing this car move up in the future."

Spirit of Daytona Racing returned to the nearby shop after the race weekend, and has already begun tearing down the car for the combinations next outing, which is expected to be in testing at Homestead in one months time.

-credit: sod

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Guy Cosmo , Michael McDowell
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing