SpeedSource Home Again In 1st Place at Daytona Daytona Beach, FL -- With prophetic words in his post-Mid-Ohio interview, SpeedSource owner Sylvain Tremblay couldn't be entirely happy with second place, saying, "Mazda wants us...
SpeedSource Home Again In 1st Place at Daytona
Daytona Beach, FL -- With prophetic words in his post-Mid-Ohio interview, SpeedSource owner Sylvain Tremblay couldn't be entirely happy with second place, saying, "Mazda wants us to win. We come to these races to win." Under a clear night sky at the Brumos Porsche 250 in Daytona July 5, Tremblay and co-driver Nick Ham did exactly that.
With Ham's quick lap of 1:52.681 in qualifying, the Florida-based No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed GT RX-8 started from pole and never looked back, taking the team's third win of the Grand-Am Rolex Series season by over 9 seconds. It was the win they needed - salve for the results at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen, and inspiration for the Iowa-Barber pairing in the weeks to come.
With just a single day of track time in conjunction with NASCAR's Pepsi 400, Tremblay and Ham quickly dominated the morning practice and qualifying, with Ham setting down a single hot lap to secure the top spot. Commenting on team strategy, Tremblay said, "With the weather threatening, and limited track time, we knew we had to be ready. Daytona is an important track for us; with a top-five class finish from the Rolex 24, we felt confident we could win this race."
To complete the mandatory early pit, team Technical Director David Haskell brought the No. 70 for fuel only on lap 8. Ham led the field for all but one of his 38 laps. Tremblay took the wheel on lap 39, dropping to third spot for the pit stop. Tremblay steadily gained on the race leaders and turned in the rotary's fastest race lap of 1:54.532 on lap 56. He passed for the top spot on lap 59 and continued to put the seconds behind him, taking the checker on lap 66. In all, the zoom-zoom power of the rotary engine led the field for 45 of the 66 laps.
Also posting a good day, the No. 69 FXDD Mazda GT RX-8 of Emil Assentato qualified in fourth spot, the highest starting position of the season. Making an excellent start, Assentato leapt to second position to put both SpeedSource Mazda GT RX-8s on the front row for the first corners. Despite the fatigue induced by intense humidity, Assentato drove a long stint and handed off to co-driver Nick Longhi on lap 36, in fifth place. Both drivers ran laps in the top ten for the majority of the race; Longhi brought the No. 69 home in 8th for another solid finish.
And to top off the day, Assentato received accolades from Grand-Am officials at the pre-race driver's meeting, where he garnered four Bob Akin awards for each of his highest finishes by a privateer, the most of any privately-held car to date this season. The Bob Akin award recognizes the accomplishments of the privateer driver in professional racing, and our hats are off to Emil Assentato. This indeed is a huge accomplishment for this racer who gives 110% of his heart and energy to his racing efforts. Congratulations, Emil.
The team travels next to Iowa Speedway for the Rolex GT race on July 14. The following weekend, SpeedSource takes to the rolling hills of Barber Motorsports Park on July 21.