Daytona International Speedway, Florida - Friday 4 July 2003 AM Dave Machavern and Tommy Riggins pulled it off one more time in the no. 48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS. This morning, in the wee hours and with Riggins at the wheel, they won...
Daytona International Speedway, Florida - Friday 4 July 2003 AM
Dave Machavern and Tommy Riggins pulled it off one more time in the no. 48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS. This morning, in the wee hours and with Riggins at the wheel, they won the GTS category and finished second overall. This GTS win was their fourth in a row and makes five wins in all, out of eight races. Riggins crossed the finish line in the 250 mile race for top sports cars just 14.465 seconds behind the Chevy powered and Kevin Doran chassis'ed Daytona Prototype driven by Arizonan Terry Borcheller. The third place finisher was more than a minute behind Riggins. Out of the 26 starters, there were only 4 cars on the lead lap when the checker fell.
The evening's race started immediately after Winston Cup qualifying for the Fire Cracker 400, at 11PM ET on 3 July. It ended at approximately 1:23AM on 4 July, celebrating the mid-night ride of Paul Revere, a sports car race at Daytona with a lengthy tenure. The weather was flawless, an advantage the Heritage Motorsports Mustang GTS team was hoping for.
Heritage Motorsports team owner and driver, Dave Machavern, said, "We want to thank Acxiom for participating in the series. Obviously, this feels great. The team did a great job today. Tommy drove well. We are very pleased right now." Machavern will return to his home state of Vermont with the huge loving cup, carrying winnings and bonus moneys which have, this morning, made him smile broadly.
At race start Riggins, having qualified the 48 car, allowed the 58 Brumos Porsche and the number 8 BMW/Picchio, both prototypes, to pass him. Riggins is a vastly experienced driver and likes to pick his battles. A fight over the first laps wasn't in his interest last night. However, with just a few laps in the books, Riggins began a methodical overhaul of both cars, and by lap seven he was in the overall lead. A lead he held for ten more laps, which is when that fuel delivery problem, which had presented itself in qualifying, re-appeared. The Heritage crew could hear in their headsets Riggins frustration as the fuel pressure gauge for the right-side fuel pump began to read in the caution range. Then it was as though the right-side pump had quit. Riggins could not risk hurting the engine and backed out of the throttle, allowing the two Daytona Prototypes to pass.
At lap 26 the Heritage Mustang pitted, under green flag racing, accomplishing the mandatory driver change, Riggins exiting and Machavern strapping in. The Mustang took four tires and a full tank of fuel. No sooner was Machavern getting the Mustang back up to speed than three cars tangled on the infield section of this 2.56 mile road course (at lap 30); the 18 Camaro GTS spinning into the number 31 Mosler GTS and the 59 Brumos (sister) Porsche prototype. The Camaro and the Mosler were able to get underway again, while the Porsche required a tow. This was mixed news for the Heritage team, because competitors could now pit under the double yellow caution flags. Riggins ordered the Mustang back in and topped off Machavern, too. The up-side of the yellow for the Heritage team was that the Mosler began to have problems which appeared to have originated in the shunt. It would require a lengthy stop at about lap 39 for suspension repairs and no longer was a threat to the Riggins/Machavern steam-roller.
Riggins, still out of the car, consulted with his crew and decided that cautious driving in hard left-hand turns might get their car to the end. If the right-side fuel pump was not working, then fuel moving to the right side of the fuel cell under hard left cornering could un-cover the pick-up for the only remaining pump on the left side. Machavern was urged to be cautious in left-hand turns, but only when the fuel level was lower. The strategy worked, and with the assurance that they would not lean out the engine, lap times for the Mustang were once again in the range of the prototypes.
One more yellow flag, this time on lap 44 when the number 8 BMW/Picchio went off track at turn 8. Unable to get back to the pits, the caution flew for the Picchio. This allowed Machavern to confidently pit and Riggins to re-enter the car (lap 46), taking on fuel and tires. After that the race appeared to settle in for the finish, the 54 Chevy/Doran leading, the 58 Porsche DP in second and Riggins in the 48 Mustang GTS in third. It looked as though the Mustang would be taking a third place finish, until it was realized that the 58 Porsche hadn't swapped drivers and would be needing to pit. That happened on lap 67, three laps from the end, and allowed the Heritage Mustang to slip into the second overall finishing spot.
This win further solidifies the Team Owner points lead for Dave Machavern and moves the team, for the first time in the season, into the driver points lead. Indeed the team is dominating the ROLEX Grand American Road Racing GTS category, and continues to give the Daytona Prototypes "fits".
Word is all over the pits and SPEED Channel about a possible move in 2004 by Heritage Motorsports to the Daytona Prototype category. The team would like to make such a move to a very exciting class of racing, but is not prepared to make any statements yet, except to say that team leadership is talking with more than one Daytona Prototype chassis manufacturer.
The Rolex Sports Car Series will travel next (in August) to Watkins Glen International where it will once again team with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, for the Rolex Series Bully Hill Vineyards 250, the first race Heritage Motorsports won as a team, last year, during its first season as a team.