Daytona II: Finlay Motorsports race report

THE LONGEST DAY Returning to Daytona for the first time since the Rolex 24, Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley lead a race for the third time this season, and finish 4th for the third race in a row at the Brumos Porsche 250. Daytona, FL (July 1,...

THE LONGEST DAY

Returning to Daytona for the first time since the Rolex 24, Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley lead a race for the third time this season, and finish 4th for the third race in a row at the Brumos Porsche 250.

Daytona, FL (July 1, 2005) -- Employing an 'alternate' race strategy, the Finlay Motorsports duo of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley scored the team's third straight 4th-place finish in the #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation/ Finlay Developments Dinan-Powered BMW Riley in tonight's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway. The event also marked the third time this season that the Finlay Moptorsports team has led a race, including California Speedway and Watkins Glen.

The 70-lap contest, compressing the usual three days of practice, qualifying and racing into a single day, was won by the #4 Pontiac Crawford team of Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger.

Gidley qualified the car 6th on the 53-car starting grid, and handed the car over to McDowell on lap 23 during a stop for fuel, tires and some aerodynamic adjustments.

"We knew we had a pretty good car, but a lot of the other teams have a great deal of experience at this track, and we've only run here once, so we opted for an 'alternate' strategy," said Gidley. "We were faster than anybody in the infield, but our top speed just wasn't there with the front-running teams, so we went into fuel conservation mode for the final segments of the race, and it paid off for us."

A flurry of crashes and full-course caution periods interrupted McDowell's first laps in the car, and the team opted to come in again for tires and fuel under yellow on lap 33. The way the race played out from there, McDowell ran the rest of the race, leading for several laps as other teams pitted. As he did in the previous race at Watkins Glen, McDowell was leading when the track went green for the final time, and slipped back to 4th in traffic. When it became apparent the race would finish with no further yellow flag situations to help conserve fuel, McDowell brought the car to the finish line using the last drop of available.

"This was a race that was very much dictated by how the yellow flags fell in the scheme of things," said McDowell. "We have a car capable of running with the leaders at every race, but we just need to do a bit more fine-tuning to get the speed we need on the oval portion of the racetrack. That's knowledge that only comes with time, but the next event is at a very technical road circuit, a place where the driver becomes an even more important part of the equation, and Memo and I are confident of breaking through to a podium finish."

The Grand American teams get a few weeks off before the next event on the schedule, the Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant at the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, July 28 -- 31.

-www.FinlayMotorsports.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Memo Gidley , Elliott Forbes-Robinson