Spirit of Daytona realized they had their work cut out for them heading into
Round 9 of the GRAND-AM Rolex season at New Jersey Motorsports Park, but they now find
themselves facing a new and different set of challenges. Following what was likely the most
difficult race the team has seen this season, the crew has much to accomplish in a short time.
Heading into NJMP, the Spirit of Daytona expected challenges. The team had limited success in
their previous two races at New Jersey, their #09 car finishing in 11th place both years. 2010
marked the first time for the new #90 Porsche V8 Coyote on Thunderbolt Raceway. It also was
driver Buddy Rice’s first visit. Despite the handicaps, the team was confident of their chances. The
#90 had not finished out of the top ten in their last seven races, recently earning their first DP
podium. Results seen in pre-race sessions added to that level of optimism. The #90 finished no
lower than 4th place in any of those practice rounds, even posting the fastest lap in one. Buddy Rice
qualified the car, but a spin during the qualifying session allowed limited chance to get back up to
top speed as the #90 finished in 9th position.
Rice started the race and worked his way up to 7th quickly, but the day’s troubles began early on.
The #9 Action Express car, driven by Terry Borcheller, had brake failure on the 13th lap. Unable to
slow, he hit the rear of the Spirit of Daytona car, pushing it off track where it stalled. The incident
brought out the first full course caution of the race. When Rice was able to get back underway, the
#90 had fallen back to 12th place, now down several laps.
While the Action Express #9 was in the pits for lengthy repairs, Borcheller exited the car to walk
to the #90 pit to assure Spirit of Daytona team owner/manager Troy Flis that the contact was
unintentional. As Flis explained, “Terry apologized and told us that his brakes had failed and he
couldn’t avoid hitting Buddy. As the Action Express car came in to pit immediately after the
incident and was there for a long time, it was obvious something was seriously wrong. Then they
finally got back out, and came back in again soon, so they definitely had problems. It is a real
shame for both the Porsche V-8’s. We were certainly in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Before their day was done, the Spirit of Daytona team was dealt yet another blow. In the final ten
minutes of the race, fire broke out in the rear of their car. In for his second stint, Rice immediately
pulled off track and was able to exit unharmed. Although the fire was quickly extinguished, the
damage was done and the #90 was sidelined until the race had ended, finishing the trouble-filled
day in 10th place. The cause of the fire was later determined to be due to damage from the earlier
hit. That impact damaged the oil cooler bracket. When the piece later broke off completely, it
allowed oil to leak onto the hot engine and it then caught fire. While there was significant damage
to the wiring harness, the team is now hard at work making the necessary repairs to get the #90
back in action for their upcoming race.
The Rolex Series will now head back to Watkins Glen for a 2 hour sprint race and the Spirit of
Daytona team looks forward to their return. The Glen was the scene of their podium finish earlier
this year, and the entire team will do their best to see the Spirit of Daytona make a repeat
appearance in Victory Lane. The Crown Royal 200 at the Glen will take place on Saturday, August
7th, with a start time of 6:00 PM ET, and will be covered live on SPEED TV.