Daytona Finale: Heritage Motorsports qualifying report

Team Owner, Dave Machavern, qualifies the number 48 Mustang for the first time this year. He's fast, ahead of 6 out of 10 Daytona Prototypes. Dave Machavern decided his strategy for tomorrow's race, here at Daytona, will be to start the race,...

Team Owner, Dave Machavern, qualifies the number 48 Mustang for the first time this year. He's fast, ahead of 6 out of 10 Daytona Prototypes.

Dave Machavern decided his strategy for tomorrow's race, here at Daytona, will be to start the race, get the points he needs to equalize the championship, and then hand the wheel over to his team-mate and co-champion in GTS for 2003... Tommy Riggins. (Additionally, it is hoped there will be time in the race for the Portuguese Joao Barbosa to get race laps in the Mustang.) For Dave to start the race the rules required him to qualify the Mustang. This is something he hasn't done all year, leaving that job to the record-setting Riggins.

With some self-effacing, Machavern climbed into the 48 Mustang GTS late this morning and surprised both himself and a lot of other folks. With a total of 40 cars attempting to qualify, Machavern placed 8th overall. Only 4 of the 10 "faster" Daytona Prototypes set lower times, and just 3 of the other GTS cars (11 of those qualifying) were quicker. To emphasize, this means he out-drove six prototypes! In doing so, Machavern out-paced his own best time at this track by 2 seconds. It was a landmark lap for Dave Machavern, a display which demonstrated his command of the powerful but heavier Mustang, as well as his worth as a driver in this series... not just as the typical team-owner who wants to race.

Machavern was clocked at 199 mph on Daytona's back-stretch, faster than the Winston Cup cars currently run, and as fast as they ran before restrictor-plate racing came to the big oval. But, unlike the "Cup cars", the Mustang (as the rest of Saturday's ROLEX racers) will dip into the flat infield section of the famous 2.5 mile oval, making each lap tomorrow 3.54 miles.

Joao Barbosa, joining the Heritage team this weekend for the second time this season, was the only driver capable of challenging Machavern and Riggins for the points lead... until the team he drove for closed its doors. Barbosa's only other drive with the Heritage team was at Mont Tremblant (Canada), where he proved to be slightly faster (even) than Riggins! Barbosa has several European championships to his credit, in fact having tested for a Formula 1 drive a few years ago.

Joao's driving style is somewhat different than that of Riggins, but the two have gelled, Riggins speaking genuinely well of the younger Barbosa, and exercising his influence in the series to aid Barbosa's career. The Heritage crew, as well, has taken to the quiet Barbosa and the general hope is that the Riggins/Barbosa duet will continue in 2004, with owner-Machavern filling the third seat for endurance events like the 24 Hours of Daytona. The team is still working to consummate a sponsorship deal for next year, having 4 or 5 hopefuls in the works.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Joao Barbosa , Tommy Riggins