Spirit of Daytona Racing has confirmed that it will be back on track at this month's Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, round two of the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
Guy Cosmo and former superbike ace Scott Russell are slated to share the driving duties in the #09 Porsche-powered Coyote at next weekend's event [23-25 April] as Spirit of Daytona looks to build on a tough season-opener at Daytona.
After rebounding from a brief pit fire and making it to the finish of the Rolex 24, with Jason Pridmore and Jeff Ward joining Russell and Cosmo in the line-up, the team has been working non-stop to be fully prepared for the next stop on a select schedule, choosing to continue to develop the Coyote chassis and put the lessons learned on the high banks of Daytona to good use on the natural terrain circuit in Virginia.
The Coyote hasn't been sitting still since the Rolex 24, however, as the team took part in last month's open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, producing some encouraging results and new data to work with, not only ahead of the season finale back at the Florida circuit, but also the planned rounds at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Watkins Glen.
“We were really happy with how quick we were at Homestead, and with how well the car managed tyre wear, but we aren't kidding ourselves at all, because we know we are up against cars with thousands of miles of testing and racing behind them,” team owner Troy Flis admitted.
“But it was very encouraging for us to be setting times that were as competitive as they were. Everyone on the team has been working non-stop, so it was great to not only have a lot of test time thanks to good reliability, but to come out of there with some good ideas for the next time out. We are really looking forward to VIR.”
Another challenge the team will be targeting is the fact that one half of the driver line up, Scott Russell, has only seen half of the track, on a machine that had only half the number of wheels as the Coyote.
“I've run half of VIR in a test session with Ducati the year I got hurt – I've not run the second half of that course,” Russell confirmed, “I'm trying to find a way to get over there and get to run a few laps before we get there. Thank God for Guy Cosmo. He's a development driver as well as a mentor for me. He's the man, and he's helped me a lot.
"It's a great opportunity just to be out here, and to be involved in something that's a development is kind of cool, really. They've made the car a lot more comfortable to drive. We're not expected to win the championship, that kind of thing. But I think we can get on the podium this year, for sure.”
Cosmo, who has started from pole at VIR in Daytona Prototype competition, knows that the twisty Virginia circuit is a tough one for first-timers to take on, but is confident not only in co-driver Russell, but also in the progress the team has already made with the new Coyote.
“I couldn't believe how well it went for us at Homestead, and I just want us to be able to keep making that kind of progress once we get back to the track at VIR,” he said, “I know Scott will have to learn his way around the track, but he's picked it up quickly everywhere else we've run, hitting his marks like a champion and just getting more and more comfortable with what he can do in the car. I just can't wait to get back to it at VIR and keep improving because we all feel like there is some real potential in this package.”