Daytona24: Randy Pobst race report

Daytona Beach, FL (January 26, 2009) - Randy and his Gotham Competition ...

Daytona Beach, FL (January 26, 2009) - Randy and his Gotham Competition #26 Porsche GT3 finished a strong tenth in the 47th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona that is the marathon of American road racing. In a grueling race where survival is the key, the Saint Augustine, FL based driving team of Randy, brothers Jerome and Joe Jacalone, Gerardo Bonilla, and Shane Lewis, proved that you don't have to be a big money team to survive and be successful in the Rolex 24 Hour.

"We had a great race. I had a ball. I am so impressed with this little family run team. We qualified eighth with only a few other Porsches ahead of us. I was thrilled. Unfortunately we had a lot of handling drama. The car was under steering badly through most of the race, just as it had in testing. It was frustrating to drive. We kept making adjustments and made some progress. Then we had a brainstorming session with Steve Hoelscher, a SCCA solo champion who was crewing for the team, and he figured out a nice trick that made the car fabulous. I had a great second stint before midnight. The car was faster and such a joy to drive. The under steering issue returned, however, and we eventually discovered that the rear sway bar had broken at some point overnight. It was probably driver error from hitting one of the bumps too hard and not a reflection on the preparation. We fixed it but the under steer continued to haunt us. But we survived and finished the race which is a success in itself."

"Kenny [McGuire, crew chief] and Joe did a great job preparing the car and my co-drivers did a great job driving the car. It was a great experience. I would like to thank the entire Jacalone family and especially Jennifer Jacalone, who handled our hospitality, for working with me on my extra super special, vegetarian, whole grain, low sugar diet. I also want to congratulate the Brumos Porsche team for their first and third place finishes. That was a great race!"

The 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona was a record-breaking event that had the closest margin of victory, most finishers on the lead lap and most full-course cautions (25). The top four finishers covered 735 laps - most in the Daytona Prototype era - and 2,616 miles. Gotham Competition finished 675 of those laps, well ahead of many of the "super" teams. Randy's exciting Daytona experience started out on Friday when Randy, with co-driver Christian Miller, finished twelfth in the three hour KONI Challenge Fresh From Florida 200 in the #74 Compass 360 Racing Honda Civic Si. In a one race deal, Randy joined Compass 360 and its field of three cars, hoping to further its success in recent years in the KONI Challenge.

"This was a crazy race! The racing competition was among the most intense and satisfying of my entire career! The racing was so close, with four or five cars racing back and forth for the lead. Really great stuff. I was working with Travis on a Compass 360 express to the front, but with 10 minutes or so left in the race, my Honda started misfiring and we had to pit. That was disappointing but yet I was so thrilled and exhilarated from the close racing. Ray Lee is really good at what he does. The car was so well set up. It was fun to be in a Honda again with the high reving VTech engine. It howls like a race engine. I love that sound."

On Thursday, Randy posted the fastest ST lap time of 2:09.101 (99.271 mph) in practice. Co-driver Christian qualified the car in fourth position and started the race, with the other two team cars following in fifth and sixth.

"The car handled so well in practice. Few cars handled that well. Something happened between practice and the race because the handling wasn't as good. Maybe the weather changes or something. In practice, I could kill them in the turns but in the race the car was more challenging to handle and we lost the advantage. We went from faster to about the same pace and then it became a real race. Ha ha. I want to thank my co-driver Christian Miller and his father Grant. Christian drove a good race and kept it up front. I am working on doing more races with Compass 360 in the future. I hope it happens. I would like to thank my personal sponsors Team Janica Racing, Prairie Hills Motorsport Club, ChaseCam, and for their continued support."

Teammates Travis Walker and Matt Pritiko finished on the podium in third position while old racing buddy Peter Schwartzott and Bo Roach finished tenth. Randy and Peter had great success in the 1980's and 90's, winning many races and championships, including four consecutive Watkins Glen 24 Hour races, a record that is not likely to be broken. Compass 360, led by Team Principal Karl Thomson and Team Manager Ray Lee and based in Toronto, Canada, will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2009 KONI Street Tuner class.

The KONI Challenge Fresh From Florida 200 will air on January 31 at 4:00 PM EST on SPEED. Randy says they got a lot of coverage at the end and that it's a must see. Randy's next race will be at Sebring International Raceway on March 20 where Randy will begin to defend his Speed World Challenge GT championship.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Randy Pobst , Peter Schwartzott , Karl Thomson , Bo Roach , Travis Walker , Gerardo Bonilla , Matt Pritiko , Joe Jacalone , Chris Miller