Spirit of Daytona Eager To Begin 'Regular Season'Team Optimistic Heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, FL: There is no team more anxious to start the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series regular season than Spirit of Daytona. After a myriad of changes in the offseason, including a switch to a Chevrolet V-8 powerplant developed by Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines, Spirit of Daytona went into the series' biggest race optimistic for a Rolex 24 At Daytona race win one month ago. Despite opening the weekend with a career-best overall qualifying effort of sixth and leading the field midway through the race's second hour, a pair of accidents quickly put the team in too deep of a hole and the No. 90 Chevrolet/Coyote finished 14th in the DP class.
While Spirit of Daytona showed its strength early in the Rolex 24 and proved it could contend for wins in 2011, team owner/manager Troy Flis admits Daytona may be one of the team's worst tracks and that the true potential of the car won't be shown until the regular season starts this weekend in Homestead.
"We're excited. This is still not the greatest track for our car, but to get out of Miami with a top 5 or podium finish would be a good start to get us out of the hole we put ourselves in at Daytona," he said. "We've got a couple of things we want to test that we didn't get a chance to test at the end of last year or at Daytona. We'll do a couple of tests at the beginning of the weekend and if they work we'll stay on that track and if they don't we'll go back to our base setup."
In addition to testing a new setup, Spirit of Daytona will switch up its driver rotation this weekend in an effort to give team newcomer Paul Edwards more seat time.
"We think there are some gains to be had with his input and we need to test some of the items that he's feeling could help the car," Flis said. "Sometimes the drivers get comfortable with the car, but there are still more gains to be made. We're going to use Paul this week because he still doesn't have all of the familiarities with the car and he may be able to make some points that will make the car better."
Edwards joined Spirit of Daytona in the offseason and brings with him 14 Rolex Series GT wins and the class championship in 2008.
"I am really looking forward to getting back on track at Homestead. The team has worked extremely hard to get our Chevrolet powered Coyote back together and prepped after Daytona," Edwards said. "It will be important to have a clean race and a strong result so we can head to Barber where the team and car was very strong last year and get back in the championship hunt."
Joining Edwards will be Antonio Garcia who finished seventh for Spirit of Daytona at Homestead one year ago.
"I'm really looking forward to Homestead, and even more so after the Rolex 24. It wasn't a good race for us, but we had a competitive car out there," said Garcia. "The team is even more prepared and I'm sure the Chevrolet/Coyote package will perform even better than Daytona and give us the opportunity to fight for the victory."