Homestead: Orbit Racing preview

Florida momentum Orbit Racing enters the next Rolex Sports Car Series race with the best-possible power - the momentum of a big win. The team, based in nearby Jupiter, Fla., opened the season with a dominant performance in the Rolex 24 at...

Florida momentum

Orbit Racing enters the next Rolex Sports Car Series race with the best-possible power - the momentum of a big win. The team, based in nearby Jupiter, Fla., opened the season with a dominant performance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Orbit led the GT class for 22 hours and 23 minutes of the 24-hour race, won the GT class and finished second overall.

Three of the drivers who shared the Daytona victory - Jay and Joe Policastro of Latrobe, Pa., and Mike Fitzgerald of Fountain Hills, Ariz. - will drive the No. 44 Classic Industries Porsche 911 GT3 RS in the Feb. 28 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

"The last few weeks have been an emotional high for the entire team," Jay Policastro said. "People remember two things in racing - who won last week and who won the big one, the Daytona 24-hour. The team had been close to a big international win before, but never capitalized. Through a continual process of improvement in staff, drivers and preparation, we were able to succeed at the highest level under extreme conditions."

local driver

Joe Policastro will have a two-hour drive to Homestead from his winter home in West Palm Beach, Fla. He enjoys living close to the race shop, where he helps with car preparation.

"Spending time in Florida during the early race season gives me the opportunity to work with the crew on the car and have some input on driver issues such as cooling and ventilation," he noted. "Working with this team gives a driver a tremendous amount of confidence in the car. The setup we had for Daytona was the best we have had - the car was just outstanding. We are excited to try the new setup for Homestead."

at speed

The 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway course requires more driving skill than many tracks that combine oval and road course elements. Mike Fitzgerald explained, "It's fun for an infield road course - most of them, you just drive the banking like a straightaway, flat-out. The oval section at Homestead actually requires you to drive the car.

"You drive in at full throttle, then sort of breathe back out of the gas. In the middle of the banking, you roll the throttle back down to the floor and carry it up to the wall. If you do that too soon, you're in the wall. That's the challenge - get it pointed the right way and get it back on the floor. Going back down into the infield, you just breathe out of the gas a little bit, turn down into the infield and get on the brakes really hard for a tight left-hander."

Fitzgerald noted changes to the banking this season should allow drivers to carry more speed through the second half of the banking.

-or/sp-

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Series Grand-Am