Grand Am: Spirit of Dayona Rd8 Preview
Spirit of Daytona Racing is eager to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is set to stage Round 8 of the 2013 Championship on Friday with the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com Corvette DP driven by Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor. The Rolex Series is making its second visit to the Speedway, with the highly anticipated Brickyard Grand Prix part of the opening race day action on the big SuperWeekend event at the Speedway, with Sunday’s Brickyard 400 race set to run its 20th edition.
While most of the Rolex Series paddock saw a one-month break in race action since the previous round at Watkins Glen, the same can’t be said for Spirit of Daytona Racing. The Daytona Beach, Florida-based team was invited to take part in the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England which features thousands of current and historic prototype vehicles and is known as the world’s most popular motor sport and car culture event. Taylor had the opportunity of a lifetime to drive a sister edition of the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com Corvette DP “…up the hill” in the event. He and racing legend Sonny Whelen each took a turn behind the wheel of the Corvette climbing the challenging 1.16-mile uphill course.
Team owner Troy Flis once held the Daytona Prototype record in the hill climb, but after Taylor ran in the unclassified “exhibition,” only he and Flis know who has the quickest time up the hill.
As Taylor and Flis were abroad helping to broaden the VISITFLORIDA.com message, the Spirit of Daytona crew was hard at work in the race shop preparing the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.com machine for Indianapolis. The team has shown strength all year long but has seen some bad luck and the season’s results have not reflected what the group is truly capable of. The Spirit of Daytona Racing squad hopes to kick off the final stretch of five races with a strong outing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The team faced disappointment in last year’s inaugural event at the Speedway when the No. 90 was caught out almost as soon as the race had begun after contact with a competing Daytona Prototype. With heavy rains saturating the circuit just prior to the green flag, the three-hour race opened under yellow. When the field finally went green, the No. 90 received contact and hit the wall. The group rallied to repair the car in the garage and returned it to the track, but the valuable track position had been lost and Spirit of Daytona Racing settled for ninth at the finish.
Taylor, who raced for Wayne Taylor Racing in last year’s Brickyard event qualified second before taking third on the podium. Spirit of Daytona Racing will look to combine the deep talent of Taylor and Westbrook and the sheer determination of the team into a winning result as the squad targets its first victory of the season at Indianapolis.
“Last year we were kind of wreckers or checkers and that was certainly the case at the Speedway,” said team owner Troy Flis. “We’ve had more consistency this year but unfortunately it hasn’t been the kind we are chasing. But this little break between the Glen and the Speedway was a good chance for the whole team to recalibrate for the second half of the season, and we are ready to go. We know what this package is capable of, and we just have to shake off some of the little things that have been holding us back and come home with a real result.”
The SuperWeekend opens on Thursday with Rolex Series practice and qualifying. The Brickyard Grand Prix begins on Friday at 5:30 PM (ET).