VICTORY JUNCTION TO REBUILD AND RACE • SUNOCO DRIVER CHALLENGE • RE-QUALIFYING Published on January 24, 2009 by Lynne Huntting Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford Photo by MARK WEBER Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley DP Photo by MARK WEBER The weather definitely has improved, but there will be no chance of overheating on Friday as there is a cooling breeze with attitude. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and people are becoming recognizable now that they can shed several layers. The second Rolex qualifying session had but six cars on track of 15 which were listed. MICHAEL VALIENTE/No.6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley was fastest at 1:42.856/124.601 mph. The car was re-qualifying because it had been found too wide after the first qualifying session and was put at the back. It moved up to seventeenth in a 19-car DP field. The only other DP to qualify was the Childress-Howard Motorsports No.2 Pontiac Crawford, which missed the first qualifying session due to a blown engine. ANDY WALLACE turned a 1;45.070/121.976 mph, and will start eighteenth. Another car had a technical malfunction during the first qualifying session. Allegra Motorsports No.22 BMW Riley DP broke its splitter, which lowered the ride-height and the car failed Technical Inspection, putting it to the back of the field. The team did not attempt to re-qualify and will start last. The good news from the Victory Junction – Orbit Racing garage is that the race car can and is being repaired. Earlier in the day BILL LESTER crashed the No.45 BMW Riley Daytona Prototype into the concrete wall exiting the Bus Stop. He is OK, but the car will require a lot of work. The somber crew said it would be a “long night.” The frame was damaged. A bracket has to be replaced and there was suspension damage. It’s a labor intensive process. The team had most of the parts, and those they didn’t were provided from “friendly neighbors.” Friday morning several announcements were made. One included a new program designed to create interest abroad in competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It will be called The Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Challenge presented by Sunoco. The concept was the product of two guys having a beer (Budweiser) at Goodwood last summer. JIM FRANCE, Chairman of the Board and CEO of International Speedway Corporation, which owns Daytona International Speedway, and ANDERS HILDEBRAND, Managing Director of Anglo American Oil Company, planned an incentive program to bring a promising European driver to the 2010 Rolex 24 in a fully paid Daytona Prototype ride with a top team. ROBIN BRAIG, President of Daytona International Speedway is also involved. The package will including flight and accommodations for the race as well as the January Test Days. The winner will also receive a special driver suit. Drivers competing in four selected European series will be scored according to a complicated points system, with the winner racing in the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The promoters hope that Sunoco driver will win the Rolex 24 and be a torch bearer for the 2011 program. In the meantime, that winning driver will be the spokesperson for the program throughout 2010 and pass the torch in 2011. The four European race series are the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series for a single driver, which has 26 races; Avon Tires British GT Championship which has two drivers and runs 14 races; Radical UK Cup which has two drivers per car; and what is now called the Speed Series, which has two drivers. It is a spec series for sports prototypes who race Le Mans style. The series was called VDEV last year. Equal points are awarded to each driver in a winning two-driver car. Only one driver in each series can get bonus points for fastest race lap or pole position. The winner(s) receive 100 points. Second place gets 80, and then down to fifteenth position, five fewer points for each lower finishing position. Twenty-five points are awarded for pole and for fastest lap. Then…when the points are tallied, they are divided by the number of races run, giving an average score and the highest is the winner. No mention of tie breakers. Before I forget – another mea culpa. For years I thought racer turned TV broadcaster, CALVIN FISH, was from Canada. More than a few of you were quick to point out not so. Nice to know you read my column. Fish hails from Norwich in the UK. His cohort and partner in crime, DAVID HOBBS, comes from Upper Boddington.