Darren Law had the best possible preparation for the 2011 race season -- he spent the off-season on-track. Since the end of the 2010 season last October, the Phoenix driver has logged more than 1000 miles in race vehicles including Daytona Prototype, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, and a Baja Protruck off-road racing truck. He has been on track for several weeks every month, testing and coaching in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and Virginia.
Law is one of only a few drivers to tackle a double professional sports-car racing schedule. He drives the No. 5 Action Express Racing Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the No. 44 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the American Le Mans Series. He coaches a host of Porsche drivers with Kelly Moss Motorsports and adds extra stints in races as varied as the Baja 1000 and les 24 Heures du Mans. His calendar also includes charitable work and speaking engagements.
This week's Rolex 24 At Daytona is a highlight for drivers from all race disciplines. Law will team with David Donohue of Malvern, Pa., Burt Frisselle of Aspen, Colo. and Buddy Rice of Phoenix for the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. Law, Donohue and Rice combined to win the 2009 Rolex 24 with Brumos Racing. The Action Express crew, previously affiliated with Brumos, won last year, so both drivers and crew know the way to victory lane.
"This will be the first race for David and me with Action Express and their two-car program for 2011. We're coming at it with a really good lineup; I think we have the driver lineup to win it. Based on the last test, when we were within a couple tenths [of a second] of the quickest lap time, we have a car that can win, too," Law said.
"The team has come together really quickly. It's a new team name, but it's all the guys from Brumos last year. We've got a group of guys who have won the 24 -- Action Express won it in 2010; David, Buddy and I won it in 2009. So really, this program has won it the last two years in a row. We have the team and the crew that understand what it takes to win this race."
Law believes patience is the key to success in the Rolex 24.
"It's a different race. It's a hard race. It takes a lot of patience," he said. "You need to be smart, not take chances early. Obviously, you have to have a fast car, but the fastest car doesn't always win. The biggest thing is you have to get through clean without any mistakes and without anything holding you up. If we can run clean until the morning of the second day, that's the point at which we really go racing."
The drivers and crew will benefit from new pavement on the oval sections of the 3.56-mile Daytona track, which combines the oval used in NASCAR racing with an infield road course.
"The new track surface is great, but it doesn't affect us as much as it will the NASCAR guys," Law said. "They resurfaced the banking, not the infield, so the infield is the same as what we had last year. But we definitely have a smoother transition up onto the banking, and the whole run through NASCAR [turns] three and four is very smooth, which doesn't upset the car. Before this year, with the bumpy sections through the banking, you had to be careful not to scrape the car because it would bottom-out. We can probably afford to run a little bit different setup this year."
Anything can happen in a 24-hour race. But Law is prepared for the best.
"I'm very confident; I'm really looking forward to this race," he said. "Ithink we have an honest shot at winning it again."
Wheels of Wellness
Darren Law joined IndyCar stars Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick, and team owner Bobby Rahal, at the Wheels of Wellness in Phoenix on Jan. 16. The annual event, which kicks off Arizona Car Week, is a fundraiser for The Wellness Community, an organization that provides support to those whose lives are touched by cancer.