Spirit of Daytona Takes Third Win

Spirit of Daytona

Spirit of Daytona became the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype team with three victories this season. (Photo: Brian Cleary)

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Spirit of Daytona’s Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia added to their 2012 laurels, winning Sunday’s Continental Tires Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda to become the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype team with three victories this season.

For Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing a solid runner-up result was nice but also continued their winless streak – dating to mid-2011 – to 13.

There was little doubt the fastest car won the race. Westbrook, who qualified the No. 90 Corvette DP on the pole and partner Garcia, led 41 of the afternoon’s race-record 110 laps. Westbrook led the first 28 times around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile course and Garcia the final five.

“It was a fantastic day and very much needed; we are coming on the back end of a really bad run," Westbrook said. "The morale was pretty low after the last few races. It was just a fantastic weekend at a fantastic track.”

The race was a true cat-and-mouse affair with three main players – Spirit of Daytona, GAINSCO and Starworks Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel partnered with Alex Tagliani in the No. 8 Ford/Riley. The winners and Dalziel, who finished third, had speed. Fogarty and Gurney weren’t quite as quick and ran out their next-to-final fuel load hoping for a full course caution that didn’t happen.

“It was a good points day, we extended the points to the (No.) 9 car and made some points on the (No.) 01." Dalziel said. "It’s tough, it’s still possible to win mathematically at Lime Rock, but Ganassi isn’t a team to give up and neither are we. It was as good as you could have hoped for today.”

Gurney finally was forced to pit the No. 99 Corvette DP on the 107th lap, leaving him in second place. The pre-race hype – the 99 team’s 99th DP race on 9/9 couldn’t quite carry the day. The team, hoping to defend last year’s Mazda Raceway victory, last won in Montreal in August 2011.

Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato parlayed a second-place GT class finish into AIM Motorsports Team FXDD’s first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Championship in the Ferrari 458 Italia’s initial full season.

“That was a little more dramatic than what I was looking for from the race today," Segal said. "As of right now the championship is clinched, but it certainly hasn’t hit me yet. It’s certainly a tremendous accomplishment for our team AIM Autosport in their first year back in GT. With Ferrari in its first year back, it’s just a tremendous day.”

Ferrari previously won GT titles in 2002-03. Segal and Assentato shared the GT title in 2010, driving Mazda RX-8s.

The largest smiles on the podium, however, belonged to class winners Wayne Nonnamaker and Dane Cameron, who gave Team Sahlen’s No. 43 Mazda RX-8 its first victory.

“We’ve won in every class in GRAND-AM that we’ve run in so to get this win before we go on to prototypes is great," Nonnamaker said. "It was a spot on job for the team the whole race and a great job by Dane to bring it home.”

John Potter and Andy Lally (No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3) finished third.

Only one race remains in the 2012 Rolex Series season. The final event takes place at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Related Topics:

Grand Am

Race Center

GRAND-AM Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park

@ Lime Rock Park
Saturday, September 28, 2013 1:15 PM
Radio Start:
MRN, 1:15 p.m. (ET)

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