Montreal: Spirit of Daytona Racing preview

Spirit of Daytona Banking on Previous Successes of Garcia and Rice for Strong Montreal Finish with Porsche V8-Coyote Daytona Beach, FL (Aug. 26, 2009) -- Spirit of Daytona Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice know a little about running...

Spirit of Daytona Banking on Previous Successes of Garcia and Rice for Strong Montreal Finish with Porsche V8-Coyote

Daytona Beach, FL (Aug. 26, 2009) -- Spirit of Daytona Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice know a little about running -- and finishing -- up front at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

And as the Rolex Sports Car Series travels north to Montreal for round ten of the 2009 championship this weekend, both drivers will look to share that knowledge with Spirit of Daytona Racing as the team continues to develop the Porsche V8-powered Coyote in Daytona Prototype competition.

After opening the 2009 Rolex season with a big win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Garcia and Rice paired up again for Spirit of Daytona Racing in last month's Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway, and then scored a fourth-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park for the team's best-ever finish in Daytona Prototypes.

While this Saturday's Montreal race, at just two hours long, is one of the shortest of the season, the team will look to make the most of the six (practice and qualifying) sessions on Friday to push the envelope on the newest Daytona Prototype chassis configuration. The goal will be to continue learning as much as possible about the Coyote on the 2.71-mile circuit, although several members of the effort have their own reasons for looking for some redemption north of the border.

The last time he raced on the circuit in Formula Atlantics competition on his way to the championship, Buddy Rice broke through for a front row starting spot but an early-race tangle saw him unable to make it back to the Atlantics podium.

Spirit of Daytona Racing also has a score to settle at the track, after a fuel strategy gamble in last year's event didn't play out, cruelly leaving the team Daytona Prototype stranded at pit in the closing moments of the race.

"That was a gamble that didn't pay off for us, but of course we saw a lot of other cars do the exact same thing," said team owner Troy Flis. "From a development point of view, this should be a really productive week for us. Montreal has a lot of different cornering speeds, and a long back stretch, so we can learn a lot about both aero and mechanical grip this weekend. It's not that grippy a surface and it only gets used once a year, and that has been a strong point with this car historically so we will see how much progress we can make."

The team will then pack up and move south for the Rolex Sports Car Series exploratory test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 3.

"Hopefully nothing will happen this weekend that keeps us from going down to Indianapolis!" said Flis. "We're really excited about not only the chance to run at that track, but also, just to get the opportunity to do some more testing and laps with this car so hopefully that will be really productive as well."

But of everyone who has something to prove at Montreal, it could well be the guy who came closest to winning there. Last season, Antonio Garcia was piloting an earlier-specification Coyote for another team, and in a frantic final moments of the race, came up just .0064-seconds short as the top three finishers crossed the line in near-unison. That result was the closest Rolex Sports Car Series finish in history.

While he's since bolstered his trophy room with wins at Sebring, Le Mans, and of course Daytona, Garcia would certainly like to come out on top this time around.

-credit: sodr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Gilles Villeneuve , Buddy Rice