Daytona Test: Day three news and notes

Drivers Pleased With Testing Following three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway, most of the drivers seemed pleased with the performance of their cars and progress made over the weekend. "So far, everything is very good. We are...

Drivers Pleased With Testing

Following three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway, most of the drivers seemed pleased with the performance of their cars and progress made over the weekend.

"So far, everything is very good. We are very pleased with what we accomplished," said two-time Rolex 24 winner Didier Theys, who was the only driver testing the Doran-Lista Racing No. 27 Lexus Doran JE-4 this weekend. "We worked on the setup for the race. We didn't put a lot of new tires on to try and do a fast time. We were steady all the time. I think we have a good race setup. We prepared for cold or hot or rainy weather."

"Putting it into perspective, I think its gone great, realizing that Riley is a brand new chassis and brand new car to the series this year and had zero miles of development on it," said Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 01 Comp USA Lexus Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing. "Here we are, most sessions, running top two, top three, top four, top five. If you look at the amount of true miles we've put on the car, I think we've come along quite quickly. We know there are areas here where we need to make the car better. If we keep that in perspective, I think we'll be great."

"It was very good. It's nice for me to get back, because I haven't driven the car since the Watkins Glen race in June, because I only do a couple races a year - the long distance ones," said Scott Goodyear, part of the Brumos Racing No. 59 Porsche FABCAR driving lineup. "Its nice to come out and beat some of the cobwebs off. I think we've got a good format together and a good group of drivers, and obviously with the Brumos team, we've got a good team."

Cort Wagner had plenty of positive things to say about his first experience behind the wheel of the No. 6 Lexus Doran JE-4 of Michael Shank Racing. "Great! Very reliable. The Doran car is doing great," said Wagner. "All the drivers have done a great job, and Mike Shank Racing - these guys are new to endurance racing, but old hats at Atlantic, and they are doing a really great job with the car. It's a lot of fun to drive. We are making it a lot more fun to drive. We are behind the eight ball compared to teams like Kevin Doran's No. 27 car and (Terry) Borcheller. It's a brand new car. We are learning a lot about it and having a great time. It's a lot of fun."

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Rolex 24 Teammates Also Former Business Colleagues

Last week, SpeedSource Race Engineering announced that Silverstone Racing drivers Larry Huang and Chris Hall would team with Selby Wellman and Sylvain Tremblay in SpeedSource's No. 70 Ford Multimatic for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The partnering of the former Grand-Am Cup Series rivals came after Huang and Hall realized that their Silverstone Racing Daytona Prototype would not be ready in time for the Rolex 24.

However, the pairing of the two teams for the Rolex 24 not only brings together friendly rivals, but also former business colleagues. Wellman and Huang first met more than 15 years ago in the business world.

"We met back in '87. Larry was with a satellite company and I was with a networking company and our two companies were talking of merging or buying each other out. Larry had the lead on his side and I had the lead on my side. The acquisition/merger did not occur, but we got to know each other pretty well back then," explained Wellman. "Over the course of the remainder of our careers, we'd run into each other at a trade show every now and then and have maybe a couple of business calls. Things like that. It wasn't extensive, but we knew each other quite well."

It wasn't until last season that the two ran back into each other at Daytona International Speedway. "I think it was last year at test days I heard somebody calling my name and it was Selby. It was great," said Huang.

Wellman and Huang raced against each other for the first half of the 2003 season in the Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport I class, before Wellman moved into the Rolex Series to contend a Daytona Prototype for the second half of the season. Huang also planned on moving into the Rolex Series for the 2004 season, but ran into trouble with having his car prepared in time for the Rolex 24.

"We were in Miami when the deal fell apart with Chase for Larry and Chris. We were looking for two drivers, and I think our decision to ask them to join us had more to do with the fact that we had a good relationship and had competed against each other and had some really nice events," said Wellman. "We just went up to them and proposed that they join us. I think I caught them by surprise, but at the same time I think it took them less than about 12 hours to respond, saying 'we're in'."

"First of all, I thought it was very, very gracious of them to offer that so quickly. We were in a little bit of a state of shock, so we weren't thinking that clearly. But, I think within a short period of time we were like, 'boy we like the SpeedSource folks, we raced against each other last year, we like the whole organization... yeah this would be a whole lot of fun, and we'll be able to be part of a pretty good team'."

While Wellman and Huang's teams will merge for the Rolex 24, the two will go back to being friendly rivals for round two of the series when Huang and Hall are expected to have Silverstone Racing's Crawford Daytona Prototype.

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Fiery End to Testing

After three days of testing without any major on-track incidents, the final test session was cut short on Monday afternoon when the Specter Werks Sport No. 24 Cauley Corvette caught on fire. The Corvette was witnessed with flames as it came down the backstretch and flamed up when driver Tom Bambard pulled off in the horseshoe.

Bambard was able to get out of the car on his own, and after a visit to the infield care center, he was transported to Halifax Medical Center as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

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Rolex 24 Tickets On Sale

The 42nd Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona event weekend will be January 29 - February 1. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 386-253-RACE. The Rolex 24 will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED Channel.

Additional information on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series pre-season testing and Rolex 24 At Daytona is available online at www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Hall , Didier Theys , Scott Goodyear , Scott Pruett , Tom Bambard , Larry Huang , Chip Ganassi , Selby Wellman , Michael Shank , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing