Homestead: GM Racing preview

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Ready For Homestead-Miami Challenge GAINSCO Second in DP Points, New Cars, Strong GT Contingent Detroit, Mich., March 25, 2008 -- Pontiac powered Grand-Am teams are ready to take on the Homestead-Miami Speedway and round...

Pontiac Grand-Am Teams Ready For Homestead-Miami Challenge
GAINSCO Second in DP Points, New Cars, Strong GT Contingent

Detroit, Mich., March 25, 2008 -- Pontiac powered Grand-Am teams are ready to take on the Homestead-Miami Speedway and round two of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami to be run on March 29.

The GAINSCO Pontiac team with drivers Alex Gurney and John Fogarty were able to get off to a strong start at the Rolex 24 hour with a second place finish. The defending series champions are well placed to once again fight for the Daytona Prototype (DP) title in 2008.

"Homestead is a bunch of first gear corners that lead onto straights," Fogarty said. "It is all about horsepower. Everyone gets through first gear corners at about the same pace. Homestead has really not been our strongest track. We really haven't hit on a magic setup, so at the test we tried a lot of stuff. We don't have a set play book for the track, so we are willing to try anything. Between Alex, myself and the guys we have the package to win. We are second in points and we have to beat the 01 car at this point. We have 650 people from GAINSCO signed up to come to the race, so it will be a big weekend."

Wayne Taylor's SunTrust team will debut their new Dallara DP car at Homestead. The team has a lot of confidence in the new car and drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante will be not only debuting a new ride, but trying to improve their fifth place points position in the standings. The team sat on the pole last year at Homestead and finished second in the race.

"This weekend really sets the stage for an exciting future for SunTrust Racing," Taylor said. "I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic as I'd like to manage expectations. I'm not worried about the competitiveness of the new car. I might be just a little worried about the fact it's a brand new car, and with the limited amount of time we've had to run the car, that we might encounter some little problem during its first race. But we've got what we've got and the guys have done an outstanding job of preparing the car. From that perspective, I feel pretty good. When we got the car, we had tons to do, like designing the wiring looms and the various other things we needed to do. It was very much a joint effort between Dallara and Wayne Taylor Racing to get this first car running. I think both sides have done an enormous amount of work. I can't tell you the amount of hours our guys have put in to get this car ready for this race, and their tremendous attention to detail. I think once everybody sees the car, everyone will realize the amount of work that's gone on."

Krohn Racing will field their new Lola Pontiac DP cars at Homestead. The Georgia based team has put in a lot of miles to get their new spec racers up to speed. Team owner Tracy Krohn and Eric van de Poele will be behind the wheel of the No. 75, with Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta piloting the No. 76. The team wants to keep the momentum going from the Rolex 24 At Daytona which netted them fourth and seventh place finishes.

"We have ran a lot of miles since the Daytona test," Jonsson said. "We think we have good reliability as we have done a lot of trouble free miles. We are still working on the setup. We are not quit there for a win, but we have a good enough car to be in the top five and then look for some luck. The team is really working hard on everything. The engineers and everyone have a lot of effort into the car. The car is going to be very fast and very competitive, but we are a few races away. We look good in the points as a result of our finishes at Daytona. We need to have good finishes to stay up in the points. Then toward the middle of the season start to go for wins. It is hard to compare the Lola to the Riley we have, as the tire is different this year. We were about a second back from the fastest Riley at the Homestead test days a few weeks ago. With the work we have been doing, I hope we have cut that gap in half. The Lola is a downforce car. Homestead won't be a very good track for us. Mexico City will be better and VIR should be even better. When they designed the car, they looked at the tracks and most require a lot downforce so that is how the car was designed."

Cheever Racing will field one of their new Coyote DP cars. The team had a difficult start to the 2008 season, lasting just six hours of the Rolex 24. The team will have Matteo Bobbi and Antonio Garcia behind the wheel of the No. 16 entry.

"In the weeks after the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona, that for us unfortunately was just a six hours, the team has been very busy with the analysis of all parts that did not work properly. The engineers have reconstructed a new front suspension that we had the chance to try out at the Homestead test," Bobbi said. "I have to say that the result has been encouraging. We still are a little bit behind in terms of pure speed, but at least the feeling with the car has improved a lot and we understood that the work we are committed to is going along the right direction. For the Homestead race we will have loads of new things on our car."

RVO Motorsports was a pleasant surprise in the open Homestead test some three weeks ago. Justin Bell and Roger Schramm lapped the 2.3-mile modified oval circuit with very competitive times in their No. 12 Riley Pontiac.

"The test at Homestead went really well for us," Bell said. "We were fifth or sixth on both days. The new Riley body work makes more downforce and not much more drag. The motor is very solid. Most of the time came from a good setup on the car. Tonis Kasemets has helped with setup and we are just more prepared. We changed brake pad compounds and that helped as well. Roger is doing great times in the car. We just suffer from minimal track time on the weekends. We were doing well at Daytona until our crash, so we hope to have a good showing this weekend."

PR1 Motorsport will field their new No. 32 Pontiac GXP.R. The car will be driven by Mike Forest and Thomas Merrill. The team will run a handful of races during the season. The team is owned by long time kart and open-wheel racer Bobby Oergel.

"We are doing our first race at Homestead," Oergel said. We are shooting at doing seven events this year. We will use four different drivers that we have experience with from our open-wheel business. The main goal is to do as well as we can and learn about the series. We are really setting the foundation for 2009 where we hope to have two cars and a full season program. We have only done open-wheel in the past. We want to expand our horizons. We had our first test at Button Willow, two weeks ago. Paul Edwards helped us out and our drivers got in some good laps. It was educational and we were able to get some insight into the car."

Leighton Reese's two-car Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R team had a tumultuous Rolex 24. The team will be looking to make-up valuable points under the Florida sun this weekend. Reese will be teamed with Jan Magnussen in the No. 06 and Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards will pilot the No. 07.

"I am excited to be driving with Jan." Reese said. "Looks like we will have him for five races and Marc Bunting will do seven with us. We had a good test at Homestead three weeks ago. We were able to get through our program. We are going to have air conditioning in the cars at Homestead. I think that is a Grand-Am first. For a driver that is true luxury, especially in Florida. The times we're running at the test were pretty racey. We were running toward the top. We were competitive with the German cars, but the Japanese brand was absent."

"The test went better than expected," Collins said. "We went pretty good at the test. We were working on a reliable setup for the tires. I am really stoked for the air conditioning system. I think we will be more competitive there than last year. We should have a little better longevity in the tire ware at Homestead. We can get through the banking consistently fast and still have some rubber left for the infield. We just need to be clean and fast in the infield like usual and make as much speed as possible on the banking."

The Autohaus Motorsports team was excited to debut their Pontiac GXP.R at Daytona. The team from nearby Pompano Beach will be poised for a strong run at what they hope will become a home track advantage. Drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Tim Lewis Jr. showed a lot speed at the Rolex and are ready to carry over that on track performance to Homestead.

"When we tested there, we were in the top three the first day and focused on old tires and baseline stuff the second day," Lewis Jr. said. "We have decent speed at Homestead. The track will probably favor the Porsche and Mazda. We need to try and get a good top five finish. The car is good through the bank and then on the straight we lose some with our weight disadvantage. Lawson and I seem to like the identical setup on the car. It is pretty encouraging to drive with someone who likes the same things in a race car. It is the first sprint type race of the year; we will need to be good at pit stops, driver changes and strategy. From the way the whole team performed at Daytona, we should be strong in all of those areas."

The Stevenson Motorsport crew came away from Daytona in the top 10 in the GT point standings. The North Carolina based team is looking to prove the speed of their GXP.R in a sprint type format. Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis had a strong Homestead test and are ready to get the season rolling.

"From my point of view the test went very well and it was an ideal opportunity for us to try some different things and learn a bit more about the car away from the pressure of a race weekend," Liddell said. "It was our first time working with our new engineer Kyle Millaly. We know that Homestead is always pretty slick so we were looking for different ways in which to make the car work a little better on the infield. On the banking the car is awesome and easy to drive on any line which is just what you want in the race. The car always responds very well in high speed turns, and feels safe, but at the same time being very fast. It will take absolute flat out commitment from everyone on the whole team to win this weekend. The preparation and reliability of the car will be good as we have come to expect, having run the 24 Hours at Daytona without a single problem.We have a great strategist in our team manager Mike Johnson,so good clean pit work combined with mistake free driving will net us a podium finish. I know I am ready for the task ahead. I can't wait to get out there and show everyone what we can do!"

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing