The Spirit of Daytona Racing team battled a number of issues - including a dramatic pit road fire – to secure eleventh in class during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Motorcycle racers Jeff Ward, Scott Russell and Jason Pridmore joined forces with Guy Cosmo for the event at the wheel of the #09 Coyote-Porsche with the car starting the race from the seventh row of the grid.
However, problems soon surfaced when the electrical charge on the car dropped, forcing the drivers to run without helmet coolers as all non-essential electrical systems were turned off to conserve power. A clutch failure was then followed by a throttle cable problem, leaving the quartet on the back foot as they battled to work back up the order.
Despite the problems, the car remained on track until the pit fire, which occurred in the 21st hour as Cosmo pitted to hand the car over to Russell. Quick work in the garage saw Russell return to the track and he was given the honour of taking the car to the finish in 23rd overall and eleventh in the DP class.
“I couldn't believe that they could get the car fixed after the fire and back out on the track,” Russell said. “There have been a couple of times that I had to pinch myself that this whole experience is really happening.
“The team has been great. It's amazing to get through the adversity that we did, that the whole team fought back all they way to get to the finish. This Coyote did its job and I know the team is looking forward to getting the new one soon and starting that development process. This was a fatiguing race, but I had a blast and would love to do it again. It was great to have Guy driving with us because I'm not sure what we'd have done if he wasn't with us.
“It was a long day! Hopefully I'll get a chance to race again as soon as VIR.”
Series regular Cosmo, who required brief treatment in the medical centre following the fire, said he was pleased to see the team make it to the finish of the race – especially with the three motorcycle racers coming onboard for their first taste of the event.
“It is an amazing feat for us to finish this race,” he said. “With the guys doing this for the first time and all the problems we had to overcome to get to the end is just amazing to me. But all the guys did great.
“It was a gruelling race, and I think we are all feeling beat up and cramped up, but I think this was a good chance for us to work with some fantastic champions and to also keep the process of learning this new Coyote bodywork going.
“I'm happy that the fire didn't cause any injuries and that we were able to get back out and keep going to have Scotty take it over the finish line.”