Conventional wisdom has it that when a brand new team enters a top-tier racing championship like Grand-Am's Rolex Sportscar Series, it should expect to spend the first year toiling away toward the back of the pack while 'learning the ropes' - Finlay Motorsport doesn't agree.

Rob Finlay's eponymous Daytona Prototype squad has confounded conventional wisdom with a record that, so far, includes a combined total of six races led, five fastest laps, four fourth-place finishes and three podium finishes in its debut season. The remaining - and most important - goal, however, is a race victory - something that the entire team feels is within its grasp at this weekend's EMCO Gears Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio.

All three of the team's drivers - Michael McDowell, Memo Gidley and team boss Finlay - have raced at the famous circuit before, and both McDowell and Gidley have scored victories on the 2.4-mile layout, but the youngster isn't expecting an easy ride this time around.

"I love this track, but it's going to be really hot, there's going to be a lot of traffic, and it's going to be really tough to pass," he reckoned, "I think the key to the race will be staying out of trouble for the first hour, and then going as fast as humanly possible in the last."

Speed, strategy and car set-up will all play a large part in the outcome of the race, but the anticipated hot and humid weather is expected to add a unique dimension to this particular event. With temperatures in the cockpit of the #19 Riley-BMW Daytona Prototype reaching anything between 105-110 degrees, the team will utilise cooling technology borrowed from NASCAR, with an in-car driver air conditioning system helping to lower the temperatures.

"It's going to be brutal inside the car, and driver conditioning is going to be a major factor in the outcome of the race," McDowell, who stood on the top step of the Mid-Ohio podium after last year's Star Formula Mazda race and, still aged only 20, became the youngest driver to score a Rolex Series podium with second at Barber Motorsports Park last month, added.

Mid-Ohio is extending a very special welcome to members of the United States Armed Forces with free entry - for them and their families - to the weekend's racing.

"This is a great track with a long history and fans that are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic that a driver can feel the energy out on the track," veteran Gidley says, "And that energy will be even more powerful with all the Air Force Reserve members from Wright-Patterson that will be attending this weekend!

"The team keeps coming together into a tighter, more effective unit with each race we run, and I'm looking forward to qualifying the car, taking it to the front and handing it over to my team-mate in first place. We're all working extra hard to make this the weekend that we score our first win in front of our fans."

 

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