Watkins Glen II: Spirit of Daytona Racing race report

Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen Ends Early for Spirit of Daytona Racing; Encouraging opening laps before contact ends the night early (Watkins Glen, NY) 7 Aug 09 -- After getting the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen off to a promising start with...

Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen Ends Early for Spirit of Daytona Racing; Encouraging opening laps before contact ends the night early

(Watkins Glen, NY) 7 Aug 09 -- After getting the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen off to a promising start with the No. 90 Boy Scouts of America/AMA Porsche V8-powered Coyote on Friday evening, the race ended early for Spirit of Daytona Racing after contact from another Daytona Prototype forced the team to retire from the event.

Buddy Rice opened the two hour race from the back of the pack after the team's qualifying time, which netted fifth on the grid, was disallowed when the recently re-assembled car was ruled to be too wide. But the top-five pace was no problem for the red, white, and blue machine as Rice moved up into the top ten in the early race laps.

The two-hour sprint event was playing out exactly to plan for the team as a full course caution period before the one-hour mark set the stage for a driver change and pit stop as the field circulated behind the safety car.

"The car was pretty good and even though we started in the back we were making up a lot of ground and had set a good pace," said Rice after turning the car over to Garcia. "So it's pretty disappointing to have this take us out tonight because we just need all the laps we can get in this car."

But as the Rolex Sports Car Series field took the green flag for a restart, mayhem ensued in turn one, with another machine getting significantly sideways at the exit of the corner and making hard contact with the side of the Coyote.

While the actual bodywork damage wasn't that significant, the impact sent the car airborne momentarily, and the return to the ground proved to be too much for the transmission to bear. Garcia brought the car back to the pits, but a quick survey by the Spirit of Daytona team forced the decision to retire the car.

"We were all right together there going into turn one, and then all of a sudden I see the car next to me turned sideways, and then he hit me right in the side," said Garcia. "I don't know what happened that he was there like that, but the hit was really hard. Initially, though, I thought the car was going to be fine. But when I was in second gear, there was a lot of noise in the gear box and it was only going to get worse and we lost drive.

"It is a shame because every lap we get with this car is one we can use to evaluate and learn more because we still are now where near 100% with this car yet," continued Garcia. "Our pace was certainly in the top five and even though we are more focused on the development of the car than the results right now, you still want to achieve the maximum possible every time. It is too bad to lose more than an hour of track time today that we could have used to keep learning, but it was a good competitive outing and we learned a lot in practice so now we'll just look forward to doing better in Montreal."

The race, which marked just the second start for the newest-specification Coyote, was another promising outing as the chassis enters the fray of the highly competitive and diverse Daytona Prototype field.

"This race is too short to have done the repair and got back out there so we had to just park it," said team owner Troy Flis. "I hate it, but we know we were a top-five car today and I think a lot of people saw how strong we are. So we'll leave here with a smile on our faces even though we didn't do what we wanted to get done this weekend. For us the big disappointment to lose out on the track time like we did, but we'll get this car fixed, make the most of the time we have before Montreal to regroup so we can head up there and just go for it."

The Rolex Sports Car Series will return to race action on the final weekend of August as the series heads north to Montreal and the Circuit de Gilles Villenueve as part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event.

-credit: sodr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Buddy Rice