Daytona Prototype Testing Day 1
November 11, 2008 | 2:20 P.M. EST
Brian Frisselle Enjoying New Ride
Brian Frisselle sported the bright blue SunTrust Racing colors for the first time Tuesday, sharing time in the No. 10 Pontiac Dallara with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor.
"I really like the new team," Frisselle said. "Wayne Taylor Racing has obviously been established in the series. The SunTrust team has one of the best cars, and it's an honor to race with them and with Max Angelelli. I can't wait to get the season started."
Frisselle was one of the hottest drivers in the Rolex Series paddock at the end of the 2008 season, sharing victories in Mexico City and Watkins Glen with Mark WIlkins in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley. While AIM dominated the August race at The Glen, SunTrust captured the next event at Infineon Raceway with Angelelli and Michael Valiante at the wheel. Frisselle hopes to combine that synergy in 2009.
"We both finished with a bang," Frisselle said. "I hope I can continue the momentum that I developed for myself to this team, and the team can continue with the momentum that they developed. There is a lot of good potential for the Toshiba SunTrust car, and I hope we are going for a championship. This is my first chance to really interact with Max. So far, I can see why he was a champion and I look forward to learning from him.
"When I heard they were interested in me, I kept my fingers crossed," Frisselle added. "I knew it would be the dream of a lifetime to drive for this team. I got the call eventally and Wayne said he wanted to go forward with me. My heart jumped - it was an amazing moment, a special moment in my career that I'll remember forever."
Taylor, meanwhile, will not be achieving one of his dreams in the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona. In the October test, he joined son Ricky and Jordan in the No. 13 Beyer Racing Ford Crawford in hopes of running a famil8y car in the Rolex 24. While he will stay with the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Dallara in the Rolex 24, he will still be keeping an eye on his son's efforts. Taylor loaned Beyer Racing his two Pontiac Rileys for the test and the Rolex 24. The car running at Daytona this week was the car the SunTrust team finished fifth in the 2008 Rolex 24 before switching to the Dallara. The car raced again midway through the season after the Dallara was destroyed in a highway fire, with Angelelli winning the pole and joining Valiante in finishing third in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
Valiante Quickly Up to Speed for Shank
Michael Valiante didn't need much time to get up to speed in his new ride, quickly posting competitive laps in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley he co-drives with John Pew.
"I had a really great year last season," said Valiante, who won one race and three poles for SunTrust Racing in 2008. "Several teams approached me towards the end of the season. I wasn't sure what SunTrust Racing was going to be doing, so I took the opportunity to join Michael Shank Racing. So far, it's been great. We were quickest for the first half of the day, and I really enjoy the new team. We're going to try to keep the momentum going from last year (the No. 6 won the season finale at Miller Motorsport Park after the No. 60 won at New Jersey). I enjoy the new environment and the people with the team, and I'm looking forward to the start of the year."
Valiante is also pleased with the new Pirelli tires.
"They're fantastic," Valiante said. "Ever since we started running them, I've always enjoyed running them. They hold up and they're consistent. I think it will be a great tire for 2009."
Shank said that AJ Allmendinger - who qualified second in the No. 6 for the 2008 Rolex 24 - will be back with the team for the Daytona opener in January. He's close to filling out the roster for the enduro - leaning toward veteran sports car drivers as opposed to open-wheel stars.
Wallace Happy With Childress-Howard Effort
Childress-Howard Motorsports tested at Daytona International Speedway for the first time on Tuesday, with Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay sharing time behind the wheel of the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford in preparation for the January 24-25 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
"I think it's come quite far," said Wallace of the effort, which had its lone outing in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International in August. Wallace finished 19th, co-driving with Andy Lally.
"The car is very well balanced," Wallace added. "I'm very happy with the engine we've got in. This is a new one from Watkins Glen. We've had a little bit of problem getting the car started, which is a shame, but other than that, it feels really good. We've had a few people working very hard in Denver (North Carolina) since Watkins Glen, trying to improve every part of the car. I think we have. We're looking forward to doing the whole season, but it's a bit of a sting in the toe to have the Rolex 24 as the first race of the season. If it was halfway through the season, you'd know the car a lot better by then. With a new car, you've got to find out exactly what it likes."
Wallace is sharing time with Rob Finlay in the updated Crawford.
"I've got a relationship with the Crawfords from a few years ago," Finlay said. "When this opportunity arose, it was a great fit. I've always wanted to get back into their chassis, and the team is first class. It's fantastic."
Finlay is happy with the updated Crawford.
"They are two completely different cars," Finlay said. "This one is really good, but it's completely different. We're going through our first day trying to get everything working together, but overall, I'm really pleased."
Wallace won the Rolex 24 with TWR Jaguar in 1990 and with Dyson Racing in 1997 and 1999. He's also come close several times - including 2001, when his Dyson entry broke with three and a half hours remaining while leading by 27 laps. In 2004, the Crawford team of Wallace, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke while leading with only 17 minutes remaining.
"I've got a few races I could have won, but a lot of people have got those," Wallace said. "Today, this Rolex Series is very competitive. You can't go out on the track and get P-1 right away - you've got to work at it.
"It seems like just yesterday that the GTPs were here rushing around," Wallace added. "But the lap times of these Daytona Prototypes are not too far away from those lap times, and those cars had more horsepower, more ground effects, everything. The Daytona Prototypes are very fast and they're great to drive. It's special. When you walk around the paddock and see the depth of the teams, every year it gets better."
Wallace was also pleased with the new Pirelli tires.
"They're absolutely wonderful," Wallace said. "You can stand on it anywhere on the track and there's little wheelspin. They've done a real good job."
Now, Wallace is looking forward to drive for Richard Childress for the first time at Daytona.
"It's a big thrill to be driving Mr. Childress' car," Wallace said. "He wants to get serious about sports car racing, and I've been the lucky recipient to get the car ready and ultimately try to win races. I think we'll be right up there where we need to be. I'm really, really happy to be back here. I miss not doing to the whole season, and I'm looking forward to this race."
Shank Not Changing Recipies
Last year, Michael Shank Racing ran the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a new package - an updated Riley chassis while switching to Ford engines. Don't look for many changes this year, especially on the No. 60 entry co-driven by Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson.
"We have the same recipe," Negri said. "The recipe of the cake was working pretty good, so we kept everything the same. That's good, because we can develop from what we had last year. Everything with the test is going great, as always. The team does a fantastic job. We have a real good car and it's very competitive. We're experimenting with the new Pirelli tires, which are really good. They're almost the same as the old ones. They give us a lot of confidence that we can do the same in 2009 - hopefully, be on the pole and finish right up there."
After finishing second overall in the 2006 Rolex 24, Negri won the pole for last year's race and joined Patterson, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal for a sixth-place finish.
Notes from the Paddock
Jeff Braun, former engineer with Krohn Racing, is on site helping out AIM Autosport with its new No. 51 entry ... Among the drivers on site pursuing opportunities include Terry Borcheller, Marc Goossens, Shane Lewis, Anthony Lazzaro and Nelson Philippe ... Penske Racing took an early lunch break to change an engine ... Andy Wallace reported that they are having trouble starting up the Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, but other than that, the car is running fine. Also seen in the paddock - Michaele Jourdain and Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Sr.
Jeff Ward to Test With Spirit of Daytona
Another motorcycle legend is testing to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Seven-time AMA motocross champion Jeff Ward is testing with the Spirit of Daytona team this week, joined by Scott Russell and Guy Cosmo. The Scottish-born Ward was inducted into the motorcycle hall of fame in 1999. This would be his second start in the Rolex 24. Ward, who now lives in Newport Beach, Calif., drove the Ford Keiler KII in the 1997 event, finishing 52nd in a World Sports Car co-driven by Owen Trinkler and Roberto Quinanilla.
The No. 09 Porsche Coyote is sporting new updated Coyote bodywork for the team, still carrying the black and gold colors raced by Cheever Racing this past season. The team is expecting delivery of a new Coyote in the very near future.
Ward retired from motocross after winning seven championships and 57 races. He went to the Indy Racing League, winning the 2002 race at Texas Motor Speedway, edging Al Unser Jr. in what was the closest finish in IRL history. Ward finished sixth in the standings in 1998, winning the pole at Phoenix International Raceway. He was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year that season, finishing third. He also finished second in the 1999 Indy 500 and was fourth in open-wheel racing's most prestigious event in 2000.
His last open-wheel race was the 2005 Indianapolis 500. Ward then returned to two-wheeled competition in the new AMA Supermoto division, winning the championship in 2004 and 2006. He also was a two-time Supermoto winner in the X-Games, winning earlier this year at age 47.