SCC: VIR: Finlay Motorsports preview

* Michael McDowell just completed two days of testing with the Rocketsports Champ Car team, and returns to the Finlay Motorsports Daytona Prototype eager to help the team score its first victory at VIR. * The driving duo of McDowell and Memo ...

* Michael McDowell just completed two days of testing with the Rocketsports Champ Car team, and returns to the Finlay Motorsports Daytona Prototype eager to help the team score its first victory at VIR.

* The driving duo of McDowell and Memo Gidley both now have Champ Car experience to bring to the task of winning a Rolex Series race; Gidley has 38 Champ Car starts to his credit, including three podiums and four top-5 finishes.

* The duo of Gidley and McDowell has scored six top-6 and ten top-10 finishes so far this season. McDowell, 20, became the youngest driver ever to stand on the podium at a Rolex Series race when he and Gidley finished 2nd at Barber Motorsports Park on July 31. The Finlay Motorsports team is currently 5th in the championship battle.

If ever there were two racing drivers with racing not merely in their blood but in their very DNA, its Finlay Motorsports co-drivers Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell. And, with McDowell having just completed two days of testing with the Rockesports Champ Car team, this potent duo will be re-combining their talents in Sunday's Grand American VIR 400 driving the team's #19 Air Force Reserve/Make-A-Wish Foundation/ Commercial Defeasance Dinan-powered Riley Daytona Prototype.

"I absolutely loved my Champ Car experience, and I'm really happy to be back driving the Finlay prototype at VIR," says McDowell, 20, of Phoenix, AZ. "Now that I've had some seat time in a Champ Car, I have enormous respect for the contributions being made to the team by Champ Car veterans like Memo and Michael Valiante. I co-drove the Grand Am Cup race with Rob Finlay here last year, and between that knowledge of the track and the new perspective driving a Champ Car has given me, I'm confident that we can take our race performance this weekend to a new level."

And McDowell will be pulling double duty this weekend, co-driving with Rob Finlay in the team's #60 Commercial Defeasance/Air Force Reserve/Make-A-Wish Foundation BMW M3 during the 200-mile Grand Am Cup race on Saturday.

Sunday's 400-kilometer, 250-mile/77-lap main event will be the first race at the highly-technical VIR track for Memo Gidley, which makes him doubly glad to have participated in a successful test with the team here last month.

"This is a real driver's track, but even the best driver would be hard-pressed to come here for the first time, particularly if it rains, and run competitively," says Gidley. "The VIR track is like Infineon Raceway or Laguna Seca, a very technical circuit with a lot of blind corners and crests, real high-commitment situations. If you can't go into those turns with confidence, lap after lap, your race is over before its run. This is particularly true of the 'esses' on the back side of the course which are both very challenging and completely unlike any other sequence of turns at any track I know about. We tested very well here a while back, and they guys on the team have been working really hard, so I'm confident that we can run at the front on Sunday."

On-track action begins with a test day on Thursday, October 6. Qualifying for the Grand Am Cup race takes place from 11:25 am to 11:40 am Saturday, October 8, while Rolex Series qualifying runs from 1:10 pm to 1:25 pm. The 200-mile/62-lap Grand Am Cup race takes the green flag at 1:50 pm on Saturday. This is the final race of the 2005 Grand Am Cup series, and the awards celebration will take place beginning at 6:30 pm Saturday evening.

The VIR 400 Rolex Series race is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 pm Sunday, October 9. The race will be broadcast live on the SPEED Channel.

The next and final race on the 2005 Rolex Series schedule is a 250-mile/90-lap event at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on November 5.

-fm-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Michael Valiante , Michael McDowell , Rob Finlay