Daytona 24: ASC Motorsports race report
Tiffin, Ohio -- February 5, 2006 ASC Motorsports began its second season of competition in the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team arrived at Daytona International Speedway with very high expectations, but the ...
Tiffin, Ohio -- February 5, 2006 ASC Motorsports began its second season of competition in the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team arrived at Daytona International Speedway with very high expectations, but the drivers, crew and fans were disappointed with the outcome as the #55 Corvette C6 was forced to withdraw from the race in the 7th hour due to irreparable damage sustained in two off-course incidents.
In the team's second Rolex 24, the drivers included team owner Zach Arnold of Tiffin, Ohio; Trans Am ace Johnny Miller from Richmond, Virginia; 12-time road racing champion Jay Poscente of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; local driver and frequent Daytona 24 entrant Mark Montgomery; and Avon, Indiana's Eric Koselke, the 1999 Indy Lights champion.
The engineers at Arnold Machine, Inc. of Tiffin, Ohio had done an outstanding job preparing the car for the rigors of the twice-around-the-clock endurance race. The team was among the GT leaders on the first day of practice, turning in the 12th fastest lap among 39 GT entries in the third session.
The second practice day did not go as well. The car sustained serious damage when a tire exploded minutes into the first session. The crew did an outstanding job repairing the Corvette and getting it ready for race day. But, because a new nose and fender had to be shipped from the manufacturer, the team missed qualifying and had to start from the rear of the field.
Arnold took the green flag from the 66th starting spot (36th in the GT class field). He quickly began moving up through the field as the car ran well and handled easily. Flawless pit stops combined with a very quick driver change gave the team increased confidence in a good finish as the race unfolded.
By lap 22, the #55 Corvette had moved into 57th position overall and was running competitive race laps when the car slid off the track into the turn 5 barrier, causing severe damage. When the car got back into the garage, the crew quickly set about repairing the suspension and fixing the bodywork.
The team made good use of the new Rubbn'Repair patch kit quickly fixing several cracks and holes in the body panels. Interested bystanders, including a number of crew members from other teams, marveled at the ease with which the body panels were restored to their original shape and strength.
Once again, the crew did an outstanding job getting the car race-ready. Back in the competition in the third hour with Poscente at the wheel, the team began to make up for lost time. After just a few laps, Poscente radioed in that the car felt good and that there seemed to be no problems. Later in his stint, the crew had to deal with an oil leak, but they got it fixed and back on the track in short order.
Then, late in the 5th hour, the gremlins struck again as a tire came apart, damaging the left front suspension and tearing up the fender before the car came to a stop. The crew quickly repaired the suspension and sent the car back on the track without the fender. Although aerodynamically challenged, the Corvette was still in the race and making up time.
The new motor from Gressman Powersports in Fremont, Ohio stood up to the test. After the second visit to the garage for repairs, even without the left front fender which seriously affected the handling, Arnold was turning in competitive lap times. At one point he exclaimed on the team radio, "This engine is the best it's been all year."
Late in the 6th hour, Montgomery radioed in that the handling had suddenly gone away and drove the car into the garage. After attempting to fix the problem, the crew found that the suspension damage could not be repaired in the garage and would need to be rebuilt in the team's Tiffin, Ohio race shop.
Despite the major disappointment of retiring from the Rolex 24 in the 7th hour, ASC Motorsports had accomplished a great deal at Daytona. The team fielded a very good race car, the drivers showed that it could be competitive, and the crew proved once again that they're among the best in the series.
In a post-race interview, Arnold lauded the efforts of the crew throughout the month of January. "The crew did an amazing job recovering from the incidents and working together as a team to get a safe and competitive car back on the track. We'll get it fixed and make a better showing next time out."
Miller put it all in perspective, saying, "The car was really fast and we just got caught up in a myriad of bad fortune."
Discussing his outing with ASC Motorsports, Koselke commented, "I enjoyed it. I really liked the crew; they're very professional. We just ran into bad luck."
Poscente said he enjoyed working with the team and believed the team was better than the result, saying "We had a podium car, but just ran into some bad luck -- that's racing!"
Echoing the sentiments of all the drivers, Montgomery said, "The car was fast and easy to drive. With a little luck, it's easily a podium race car."
Crew Chief Nick Silardi praised the crew, saying they had done a great job working together as a team, every crew member doing his part to overcome a series of problems and give the drivers a good, competitive, safe race car. They had done everything possible to get the car back in the race, but the problems were insurmountable. Silardi told the crew they could be proud of their efforts.
The next event for ASC Motorsports is the 250 mile Grand Prix of Miami March 23-25 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, March 25th. It will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel at 8:00 PM. Grand Am will provide flag-to-flag online, real-time timing and scoring on their website at www.grandamerican.com/.