Daytona II: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Ready For 12 At Daytona; Banner Pontiac GXP.R team leads championship; GAINSCO moves to second in DP Detroit, Mich., July 1, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are ready for the single day practice, ...

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Ready For 12 At Daytona; Banner Pontiac GXP.R team leads championship; GAINSCO moves to second in DP

Detroit, Mich., July 1, 2008 -- Pontiac Daytona Prototype (DP) and GT teams are ready for the single day practice, qualify and race event at Daytona International Speedway and round eight of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 to be run at The World Center of Racing July 3.

Banner Racing teammates Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards continue to lead the Rolex Series GT points standings in their Pontiac GXP.R. The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty are making a mid-season run at defending their 2007 DP series championship.

The one day event, with the first practice starting at 10:00 a.m. and the race ending just after 10:00 p.m. will have the Pontiac Grand-Am teams getting in tune quickly. The series will share the track with NASCAR Nextel Cup and the Nationwide series'.

Collins and Edwards lead the GT standings by 31 points on the strength of three wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Laguna Seca and Lime Rock Park. Stevenson Motorsports has also been a GT standout with their Pontiac. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis have posted victories at Mexico City and Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and have moved to third in the points with their second place finish in the last event at Mid-Ohio.

Since the win at Lime Rock Pontiac GXP.R competitors have been saddled with a 100lb. weight increase and no more than 49% weight balance on the rear of the car. This will surely affect the cars competitiveness at Daytona compared to January's Rolex 24 hour. Collins and Edwards are hoping to maximize the points at Daytona this week.

"I hope that some of the things we were working on at the test at Mid-Ohio last week can carry over to Daytona this week," Collins said. "One thing that we cannot fix is the added weight and balance. Daytona is really the worst track for the way the GXP.R is weighted down right now. Coming out of the Bus Stop turn we will be just a moving chicane going around into turn one. Once we hit the infield we will be strong again, until we get to NASCAR turn one again. We just need to run clean and come out with as many points as possible."

In the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports GXP.R Liddell and Davis bring three podium finishes at Lime Rock Park, Watkins Glen and in the last race at Mid-Ohio to go along with their two wins at Mexico City and VIR. The pair have moved up to third in the GT point standings.

"I think we will be in a lot better shape than we were at the 24," Liddell said. "Simply because we have a lot more miles on the car, a lot more experience with it (and driving it) and we have also made some improvements to the package since that time. Saying that, I still expect the Mazda and the Porsche to be quicker than us and so our only chance for a podium will be to stay consistent and benefit from the mistakes of others, as we have done in previous races. In a one day program you have to hit the ground running and get the job done straight-away. We have come off the back of some strong results and our confidence is high so we aim to capitalize on that and be as quick as we can straight-away. If you have any problems your track time will suffer. We need to be error free throughout the whole day. Ultimately we will still be trying to win as we always are so the strategy is much the same."

In the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac Tim Lewis Jr. and new teammate Terry Borcheller will take on the high-banks of Daytona. Lawson Aschenbach who started the season with the team was released following the last race at Mid-Ohio. Sportscar veteran Terry Borcheller will once again drive for the team on Thursday.

"The 2008 Season has been an intensive learning experience for the Autohaus motorsports team," Lewis said. "Daytona was the first endurance race for the team, so a lot of things were new to us. All the race miles since the Rolex 24 has really helped our engineer, Nathan McBride, get his head around the car and learn to tune it for speed and tire longevity. Nathan and I also are starting to really understand what we want fromeach otherin car feedback and chassis setup. With the new rule updates since Lime Rock, getting the most out of our car is quite difficult. Our carhasnever beenthe optimal car to have at Daytona, and with 100 extra pounds and a rear weight percentage change, making us the extra most heaviest car in the field, its going to be difficult to get a top finish. As always, we will give it our best and hope that tough days for some of the other competitors will improve our finishing position. A one day event is really difficult for everyone on every team. As a driver, you are not abletake that extra percentage of risk in practice or qualifying because you want to make the race and have a good car for it. Having everything in one day puts extra pressure on the team to roll off the truck with a good car because we will not have much opportunity to change it. I am going to make sure to be hydrated, it is a very long day, we are pretty much in our drivers suits sweating for 12 hours straight.Getting dehydrated in the afternoon will definitely lead topoor results in the race."

The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team comes in Daytona with a full head of motivation. The defending DP champions from last year are looking to finish one step higher on the podium from the Rolex 24 Hour where they finished second. In addition the team won the last race at Mid-Ohio and is setting a mid-season pace to keep the series trophy in Texas.

"The Mid-Ohio win was important on many levels, such as points, confidence and inspiration," Fogarty said. "For sure, it gives us more fire as we head to Daytona, but like last year I feel like we have to win every race from here on out in order to best position ourselves for the championship. You can go through all of the points scenarios and come up with infinite iterations on how the championship could fall, or you can just take the cave man approach to math and say 'if we win, and the 01 does not, that is good. Come back wins like Mid-Ohio and the Daytona race last year is satisfying, but ultimately a win is a win. We have had a good run at Daytona recently. We have found a balance with the car that will produce solid lap times, but we we're also seeing some big speed out of some of the competitors at the Rolex 24. They couldn't hang for the around-the-clock format, but the sprint race is going to be a little different. I still think we have a very good shot at winning, and I know Pontiac and our engine builders have been hard at work coming up with a motor that is suited to the high banks and long straights of DIS."

The Riley-Matthews team of Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews started the season strong. The team won at Mexico City and has been on the podium at VIR and Laguna Seca. They were also fourth in the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona and at Homestead. Their consistency suffered as they posted finishes of 13th at Watkins Glen and 11th at Mid-Ohio. The team will be looking to rebound on Thursday with a top finish.

"The Daytona July race is obviously different in the way that you can't have a bad day," Goossens said. "Driving wise it is different because you know in the back of your mind that, if something goes wrong, there possibly isn't enough time to get the car back out for the next session. But I have to say that the schedule on race day at Mid-Ohio didn't leave much room for error either. The setup of the car may be might be slightly different because of things that we learned since we were there last time. And of course it being quite a bit hotter this time of the year will bring some changes too. But we usually have a strong car at Daytona, so I'm not too worried about finding the right setup."

The SunTrust team will be running their second Pontiac powered Dallara on Thursday. The first was destroyed in a truck fire on the way back to the shop from the Laguna Seca race weekend. The SunTrust Dallara has a pole to its credit at VIR and has been a fixture at the front of the field. Michael Valiante and Max Angelelli will be looking to debut their newest Dallara in fine fashion in two days.

"I'm really looking forward to Daytona now that we have another Dallara and we've had back-to-back races where, as a team, we've gotten some pretty good rhythm going," Valiante said. "We're gradually building our inventory back up again, which will make us better and better as we go along - things like shocks and springs and spare components. The new car should be good. They've beefed up some things to make it stronger for the longer duration events. Otherwise, there's not much that can be done because once the car is approved, you have to stick to the guidelines that were set. Probably the main thing to go off of is how the other two Dallaras in the series (the Nos. 77 and 47) have been doing. They've been getting quicker and quicker each race, so that's very encouraging. I think, overall, we'll be solid at Daytona. The Dallara hasn't been the quickest out there in terms of straight-line speed, so it will be a challenge on the long straights. But I do feel we'll be very strong in the infield road course segments."

For Krohn Racing the team will field their Pontiac powered Lolas for the first time at Daytona. The team tested the cars there in early January, but opted to run their tried and true Riley chassis' in the 24 hour. Drivers Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson have been running toward the front in their new Lola for the past several races.

"The Proto-Auto Lola is getting better and better at every race," Zonta said. "I am looking forward to driving in again at Daytona and actually getting to race it there. We will be very busy, but it is also good because we will not need to wait so long between the practice sessions, the qualifying and the race."

Team owner Tracy Krohn is looking forward to exercising the Lola at Daytona. The team has always performed well at the Florida track and is looking forward to seeing what the new car will do on the high-banks.

"Although it will be the first time we race at Daytona with the new Proto-Auto Lola, we have a lot of data on this track and we have a great deal of data on the car," Krohn said. "Additionally, we ran the Proto-Auto Lolas here for the Daytona Test in January. The cars have come a long way since then, so we're pretty excited to see what we can do at Daytona this time with all the progress we have made over the past few months. We may surprise some people. The one-day format works pretty well, especially at Daytona. It makes for a long day, but that's okay. We are in and out on the same day. With my busy schedule, that works great for me. I think it also makes it more exciting for the fans, especially since we are educating a NASCAR crowd about sports car racing."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Stevenson Motorsports