Daytona II: The Racer's Group qualifying report

TRG Set Pole for Paul Revere 250 Daytona Beach, FL -- June 30, 2004 - TRG driver Kevin Buckler set the GT-class pole for Thursday night's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Paul Revere 250 today, with teammate Chris Gleason hot on his ...

TRG Set Pole for Paul Revere 250

Daytona Beach, FL -- June 30, 2004 - TRG driver Kevin Buckler set the GT-class pole for Thursday night's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Paul Revere 250 today, with teammate Chris Gleason hot on his heels, qualifying 4th in the GT class. Daytona, aside from being the scene of some of TRG's most stirring successes, is a track that the team knows inside and out. In 2002, team TRG and owner Kevin Buckler won the GT class at the famous Rolex 24 Hour race, then shocked the sports car racing world in 2003 with an overall win in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Adding to the team's success was a provisional pole in 2004 testing for the Rolex race, and then an unofficial 2-3-4 combined qualifying session prior to the 2004 race.

"I absolutely love racing at Daytona," Buckler said. "It always brings back great memories for me and the team. We struggled at this track for seven long years before we finally broke through in 2002, and I had what I consider the crowning achievement of my driving career here at the Speedway. I always have a warm feeling coming through the entry tunnel here."

The team and drivers endured punishing heat and humidity today in Daytona, as the temperature climbed past 90 and the humidity rose to nearly 80%. The extreme temperatures compromised the effectiveness of teams' tire selections, and many commented on the slipperiness of the track. Adding insult to injury, the cockpit temperatures of the TRG Porsches neared 140 , a stifling temperature that dehydrated and exhausted the drivers.

The #67 TRG Porsche, the same car driven by Buckler in this year's Rolex 24 Hour race, had been near the top of the time sheets in both of today's practice session prior to qualifying. As the mercury rose, Buckler settled into his car on a familiar track, and edged Mike Fitzgerald in the #44 Porsche by three tenths of a second to claim the pole position.

"I felt good coming here," he said, "good and prepared. It means a lot to me to be here, and when I got in the car today, if felt like the same car that won the 2003 Rolex race. It's been really, really hot here, which means that the adhesion of the tires changes a lot throughout a session. I'm used to racing the long-format races here, so it slightly changes our game plan for the race tomorrow night -- unlike in a 24-hour race, if we lose even a lap here in the race, we have almost no chance of winning -- there's really no chance to make up for lost time in a sprint race. We work really hard on setup for this track, and over the years we've learned to pay a lot of attention to the details of the setup -- we've now got a car that's easy to drive fast."

The #67 F1 Air/Gleason Agency Porsche was second quickest in Wednesday's first practice session, and driver Chris Gleason qualified the car in 4th position. Gleason, like co-driver RJ Valentine, has heaps of experience racing at Daytona, and didn't take long to acclimate to the car despite the heat today.

"I didn't have much time during practice here today because we broke a couple of axles, and the track was very greasy. My co-driver Ian, who's also my mentor, sat me down between sessions and looked over some data with me, and he showed me what I had to do. After that, it was just a question of executing, which I did. One thing I learned today is that in this heat, the tires come up to temperature in one lap, so the best lap that the tires will produce is the first lap driven in anger on a fresh set. We're not giving up much by starting 4th in the race, and I think that RJ, Ian and I have a great shot tomorrow -- we'll get Ian in to finish the race-- he's our hired gun."

The Grand-American Paul Revere 250 will be broadcast on Speed Channel on July 4, at 12:00pm ET.

-trg-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Chris Gleason