The Spirit of Daytona Chevrolet Corvette DP chassis rolled to a Rolex Series leading third win of the season in convincing fashion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday afternoon.
The Daytona Beach based single car effort edged out defending race winners Gainsco Racing #99 “Red Dragon” in a similarly prepared Corvette DP chassis. After starting from pole, Richard Westbrook eased to a early lead in which the #90 flexed it’s muscles early setting up what would be their third convincing win of the season. In a year full of ups and downs for “The Spirit” as affectionately known in hometown Daytona Beach, they have seemed to either finish each race behind the wall or in victory lane.
A strategic mid-race call made by team owner Troy Flis, called the ocean blue #90 on a short pit stragedy similarly used in NASCAR, proved to be the magical move with Antonio Garcia then at the wheel. The Gainsco Corvette was forced to pit for fuel with 9 minutes left relinquishing a 17 second lead in the process. Patiently waiting for the Red Dragon to make its predicted fuel stop, the Spirit of Daytona team cruised to a convincing win while setting the events fastest race lap. Eight Daytona Prototypes finished on the lead lap including another respectable run by the scrappy Starworks Motorsport team, having championship hopes in sight heading into the final event at Lime Rock Park.
In the ever competitive GT class, a championship was secured while the Team Sahlens Mazda of Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker scored it’s first race victory in GT before graduating to the series top class in 2013 with a pair of BMW powered Rileys.
In a emotional victory, Cameron held off the championship clinching Ferrari 458 of AIM Autosport Team FXDD of Jeff Segal and hotshoe Emil Assentato. The Ferrari’s seemed to have the edge in pace as the weekend progressed including the class pole sitting Ferrari of Scuderia Corsa leased from Risi Competizione. Ed Brown‘s Extreme Speed Motorsport organization, running full time in ALMS, added to the Ferrari competition making a much welcomed Rolex Series appearance. Ferraris claimed three of the top five positions with Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Magnus Racing finishing the Continental Tire Challange on the final step of the GT class podium.
The fantastic racing fans have come to expect in the Rolex Series capped off a memorial week. The weekend was full of excitement after Wednesday’s ALMS/Grand-AM merger announcement looking forward to the first unified year in 2014. Many questions remain unanswered however one has been settled in which participants in both respective series are optimistic about the future of sports car racing in North America.