The Spirit of Daytona team led the Porsche challenge of the Daytona Prototype class after taking a tenth place finish in the annual Rolex 24,
Michael McDowell, Guy Cosmo and Marc Camirand shared driving duties during a race that featured rain and blazing sunshine to take the innovative new Porsche/Fabcar combination to a solid result against more developed machinery – the car having only debuted at Miller Motorsports Park back in September.
“This is a great foot forward for this program and to take a top-ten result with a package that's basically brand-new shows that there is a tremendous amount of potential here,” team owner Troy Flis said. “I'm really proud of the effort that the entire Spirit of Daytona crew put in just to be ready for the weekend, and I know we leaned pretty hard on this driver line up with just three guys in the car.
“But fortunately we had the right three guys in there, and were able to keep everything moving forward all race long. We learned a ton, and now we're just anxious to put that info to use the next time we get the chance to.”
The Spirit of Daytona race effort looked to have suffered a setback early in the race weekend when the engine overheated and sent the car back to the garage. However, the team was able to get the problem sorted and present the car for the grid for the 46th running of the race.
After fighting through the pack and through some early setbacks, the overheating issue reared its head late in the race night when grass and track debris deprived the radiator from getting precious air for cooling.
“This motor overheated twice during the weekend and frankly just one of those would have knocked any other motor down for the count,” Cosmo said. “But once they cleared out the radiators and got the fluids sorted out, it just went back on track and kept pounding out the solid laps right to the finish. I'm amazed. That's the kind of stout reliability that's crucial if you want to finish this race. It's great to get to the finish - I've never done that before and it's been a long day and night, but it feels fantastic!”
Taking the chequered flag at the finish was McDowell, who will move to NASCAR this season to take in 30 Sprint Cup appearances in the #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry for the 2008 NASCAR season.
“I had fun out there and even though there were some tough stints with the rain and everything, that's just a great challenge for the drivers to take on, and I loved it,” he said. “I didn't really feel rusty at all, but if I had, I would have knocked it all off this weekend with all the miles we put in behind the wheel!
“It's great to make it to the finish because this is a really tough race - you walk back to the garages and you see some really strong car and team combinations already packing up and that reminds you how tough it can be to get to the chequered flag like we did today. We know there's more work to do with this car, this whole race weekend was a big move forward for everything and I look forward to seeing this car move up in the future.”