Daytona II: Krohn Racing preview

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series heads into the second half of the season this week, as the teams return to Daytona International Speedway for Round 8 of 14 races. The return to the site of the inaugural race of the season, the Rolex 24 At ...

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series heads into the second half of the season this week, as the teams return to Daytona International Speedway for Round 8 of 14 races. The return to the site of the inaugural race of the season, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, makes a drastic change as the Grand-Am teams hold a one-day event on Thursday, July 3rd, just prior to the popular NASCAR 400-mile race weekend.

Krohn Racing will debut their Proto-Auto Lolas at the 3.56-mile, 12-turn super speedway road course. Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and teammate Eric van de Poele will drive the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola, while Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta will compete in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola this weekend.

Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Daytona is traditionally a good track for the Krohn Racing team. At the Rolex 24, the team opted to run last year's Riley's, therefore the Brumos Porsche 250 will be the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola at Daytona. Please share your thoughts on that."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. Additionally, we ran the Proto-Auto Lolas here for the Daytona Test in

anuary. 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."

In the past, you've said you like the Grand-Am one-day race format. However, you come with a new car this year. Do you feel the same way this year?

"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."

What do you like best about this event?

"This is one of our more favorite formats at this track. We're running with the GT cars as well as having a single-day format so that adds a little bit more dimension to the race. Fans will get to see two different classes and a lot of passing. They will get to see a lot of pretty good maneuvers -- like going into turn one where you may be passing a slower GT car, passing on the left or the right, depends on where they are. It's a night race as well, so I think that gives it a little more added dimension. And who knows, it might even rain! NASCAR fans are not used to seeing cars race in the rain. We could get to see that too."

What do you like best about this track?

"I like coming into turn one, because you go really fast...probably as fast as any track we run on our entire schedule. You're doing about 185 mph and you turn left, then you go to braking, so you're trail braking in. You are going down through the gearbox, for us maybe from fifth to first or second. You slow down very quickly, you're turning left, you're balancing the car because there's a few bumps in there. It's a pretty challenging turn but it is a lot of fun."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Daytona is traditionally a good track for the Krohn Racing team. At the 24 Hours, the team opted to run last year's Riley's, so the Brumos Porsche 250 will be the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola at Daytona. Please share your thoughts on that? "The thing is we had the experience of the Daytona test, so it is going to give us some direction how to work. It's the first time this year at Daytona with this car for a race though. Every time we go on a track we have to work a new system to learn everything. After that we still don't know if we are going to be very competitive. As we have seen, every race we are more and more competitive. So, I'm quite confident. There's not a lot of testing, which doesn't help us. I think it will be a very good race and I'm sure we will do well."

This event will be a Grand-Am one-day race format. What do you think of that concept of practice, qualifying and racing all in the same day? "I will tell you after the race if it is a good idea. I think in one way it could be terrible for some teams. If you have a big problem you don't have much time to set back up everything. Even if there is an engine failure, a mechanical problem or something, it will transform the day into a nightmare. I don't think the concept is a bad idea though because you really have different kind of races -- you have long distance, you have sprint, and you have everything all in one day. It makes a championship that is quite diverse and very interesting. Personally, I think it's a good idea. I would not want all races to be like this, but it's great!"

What do you like best about the Daytona track? "Of course, it's quite funny to be on the banking. It's like a straight for us with absolutely no work to do. Even in the rain it is flat out. All the atmosphere of the Daytona race track is quite nice. Of course you are in a very nice place too, with the beach and everything. It is quite nice to go to Daytona Beach. Every time I look forward to it. The race track itself is always very slippery, but you need top speed. You really need a car that is mechanically very good and with no drag. Also in the straight you can pass cars. I like to go to Daytona. It's always nice. I'm always very happy to go to Daytona."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Daytona is traditionally a good track for the Krohn Racing team. At the Rolex 24, the team opted to run last year's Riley's, so the Brumos Porsche 250 will be the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola at Daytona. Please share your thoughts on that. "We've been running the Proto-Auto Lolas for six races now. We've been making progress ever since. We debuted the car at Homestead and we've actually been in contention for podium finishes pretty much every race so far. The car is getting more and more stable. The car is getting quicker, definitely faster. Daytona is one of those low-downforce tracks where you need horsepower and a car that's very good at air. We don't really know if we have that in the Proto-Auto Lola yet. We've been making progress and we are pretty confident that we'll be able to run in the Top Five again with the car. The car is very good to race and very balanced in race conditions thanks to the team and engineers at Krohn Racing. Both Ricardo and I are going to go in with an open mind and a goal to be stepping up on that podium again."

This event will be a Grand-Am one-day race format. What do you think of that concept of practice, qualifying and racing all in the same day?

"In an endurance series this is obviously going to be a sprint race from start to finish -- getting in there in the morning and out in the same night with everything compressed in between -- practice, driver meetings, qualifying and the race. It's a little different format. I guess it works but I really like two-day events. They give you a little bit more time to work on the car. It gives everybody a little more breathing room because if you have any kind of mechanical issue or problems with anything, you'll miss out on all the practice because it's back-to-back practice from morning until noon. There is a little gap before we qualify and then we race at night. It's very risky to run this type of format because any little glitch and you miss out. It makes it much more difficult from a planning standpoint."

Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Daytona is usually a good track for the Krohn Racing team, including this year at the Rolex 24. At the 24 Hours, the team opted to run last year's Riley's, so the Brumos Porsche 250 will be the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola at Daytona. Please share your thoughts on that. "The Proto-Auto Lola is getting better and better at every race. I am looking forward to driving it again at Daytona and actually getting to race it there."

This event will be a Grand-Am one-day race format. How do you like the concept of practice, qualifying and racing all in the same day? "We will be very busy, but it is also good because we will not need to waiting so long between the practice sessions, the qualifying and the race."

Since it is the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola, do you think the single-day format will put the team a little further behind this time around or are you confident with the knowledge and the data the team already has on the new car? "We have enough data and testing done with the new Lola cars now, so it should be no problem."

What do you like best about this track? "Personally, I like the banking at Daytona. It is very different than most of the tracks I've raced during my career. After racing in the Rolex 24 Hours, I like the track even more."

David Brown, Team Manager, Krohn Racing:

Daytona is traditionally a good track for the Krohn Racing team, including this year at the Rolex 24. At the 24 Hours, the team opted to run last year's Riley's. Therefore, the Brumos Porsche 250 will be the debut of the Proto-Auto Lola at Daytona. Please share your thoughts on that.

"We did test with the car in January, but since then the car is quite different. We think we know a lot more about the car than we did at the test. We have done some low-drag work suitable for Daytona recently and at Mid-Ohio. Yes, we're looking forward to getting the car out on a completely different sort of track for quite a different sort of character race. Daytona is always a big event."

This event will be a Grand-Am one-day race format. How do you like the concept of practice, qualifying and racing all in the same day?

"It makes it an intense experience. It means there is not a lot of margin. You have to be very well prepared. You have to have a very good idea of what you are trying to achieve. There are lots of sessions, so you get quite a bit of track time, but you get very little time in between. And then we spend six hours worrying about whether we made the right decisions before we go and race it, which is always fun! I like the format. It's different. I'm not sure I would like to do it every week because it can get quite intense. But, for a novelty, it's a good idea and everybody enjoys the quick-fire nature of it!"

The Krohn Racing team, now in its third year of Grand-Am competition, is currently tied for fifth (No. 76) and 12th (No. 75) in the Daytona Prototype points chase after seven of 14 races this season. Jonsson and Zonta have a podium finish, a third-place at Mexico City, and a fourth-place finish in the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Krohn and van de Poele have two Top 10 finishes so far this year, a seventh-place finish at the Rolex 24 and 10th at Mexico City.

One year ago Krohn Racing captured a podium finish (third) at the Daytona sprint race in July, with drivers Colin Braun and Max Papis at the wheel of the No. 75 Pontiac Riley. Additionally, the Krohn Racing team collected six podium finishes, three 2nd-places and three 3rd-place finishes, as well as two pole positions by former Krohn driver Colin Braun. Between the two cars, they had nine Top 5 finishes and 14 Top 10's. Krohn cars finished fourth (No. 75) and 13th (No. 76) in the Daytona Prototype series championship standings. Tracy Krohn was awarded the Jim Trueman Award for Sportsman drivers. Additionally, Krohn, Jonsson and Braun finished second in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 2006 Krohn Racing won the Brumos Porsche 250 race at Daytona, with drivers Colin Braun and Jorg Bergmeister in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley. That year Krohn Racing won the Daytona Prototype Driver's Championship with driver Jorg Bergmeister and finished second in the DP Team Championship. During the season Krohn Racing collected three victories, six podiums, eight Top 5 finishes, 13 Top 10 finishes and one pole position.

-credit: kr

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