SPIRIT OF DAYTONA OPTIMISTIC HEADING TO BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
Team eyes podium, win after rough start to season
BIRMINGHAM, AL: Despite a pair of incidents in the first two races of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, Spirit of Daytona remains optimistic as the series heads north to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL for the Porsche 250 on April 9. After two DNFs to start the season, the No. 90 Chevrolet/Coyote sits buried in the standings, but it’s been the performance of the car prior to those crashes that has everybody on the team fully expecting a podium finish this weekend.
One month ago, the No. 90 DP unloaded at Homestead-Miami Speedway hoping to rebound from a 14th place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and opened the weekend strong, qualifying 3rd. But like Daytona where the team led early on, Spirit of Daytona was well on the way to a podium finish at Homestead before driver Antonio Garcia was spun in the race’s final stages.
Now the team goes to arguably its best track, and a track where they qualified second (just 0.037 seconds off the pole) and finished 6th one year ago.
“Last year Antonio (Garcia) qualified just off of the pole and the car had a really good race pace. Now with Chevy on board and all that has been developed with the car since then, I believe we can seriously battle for a win at Barber,” said driver Paul Edwards. “It will be great to get back racing after another four week break, and I am very confident heading to Barber Motorsports Park. It’s one of my favorites.”
During that four week break, Spirit of Daytona worked with Coyote to develop stronger cars that can better handle the rough racing that may come with running more consistently towards the front of the field. Durability is something team owner/manager Troy Flis admits had been a weakness with the chassis in the past.
We need a more robust car that can take a hit like we did at Homestead...
“We have to be able to take those hits and keep going. We need a more robust car that can take a hit like we did at Homestead, whether it be a GT car or the leader,” he admitted. “We’ve had a good package at Barber for the past three years so we should have another strong car there this time around. We’ve shown already that this car has more than just speed, so I’m very optimistic.”
And there’s plenty of the reason for the Spirit of Daytona to be optimistic. With the new Chevrolet/Coyote package the No. 90 DP has unloaded in the top 5 at both Homestead and Daytona, two tracks that Flis admits are not the team’s strongest. Now, as they go to a track where they’ve qualified in the top 5 each of the past three seasons and finished as high as 4th, there’s no telling how well the new package will fare.
“We’ve run very well at Barber in the past and I don’t expect this year to be any different,” Garcia said. “This team has worked really hard and the podiums will come, hopefully starting this weekend.”
Given how Spirit of Daytona has run this season, a podium finish is right around the corner. But as the team has learned early on this season, all they need is just a little luck.