Roush Jr. Wins At Daytona
Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson put a definitive end to two years of non-finishing disappointment at Daytona International Speedway Friday afternoon, when they won the BMW Performance 200 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
The series’ season-opener on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn DIS layout was a prelude to Saturday’s historic 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona and the start of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule.
Roush Jr. and Johnson, who shared the wheel of the No. 61 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302 R, captured the 58-lap race ahead of the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 of co-drivers Charles Putman and Charles Espenlaub.
“I love this track,” said Roush Jr., celebrating the first GRAND-AM victory for Roush Performance. “There is a lot of history. It’s a very special race to win. I can’t be happier.”
The No. 61 Ford took the lead during a pit stop cycle on Lap 41, with Johnson replacing Roush in the cockpit. Johnson led the final 18 laps and held off the field on a restart with three laps to go on the way to a 1.061-second margin of victory.
“It feels great to finally get that monkey off our back after two very bad race weekends here,” Johnson said. “The last two years we’ve started off the season with no points and trying to dig ourselves out of a hole for the entire year, and it’s always a heartbreak at the end of the year. We hope with this victory that we can continue and take home the championship at the end of the year.”
Johnson and Roush Jr. are no strangers to winning, posting a victory and multiple podiums throughout the 2011 season. However, after receiving congratulations Friday from Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, the teammates vowed to stay focused on the ultimate goal.
“It was a fun race for sure, but there’s a very high bar been set by my father and I take that very seriously,” said Roush Jr., referring to dad Jack Sr., an accomplished sports car and NASCAR team-owner. “Even the days that we win a race, we walk away critiquing what went wrong and try to improve. It’s just part of who we are. We’re constantly trying to get better and do as well as we can.”
In the Sport Touring class, the No. 31 i-Moto Mazda Speed 3 with Pierre Kleinubing and Jayson Clunie – who started at the rear of the field – edged the No. 10 Kinetic/Kia Racing Kia Forte Koup and drivers Andy Lally and Nic Jonsson at the start/finish line. The margin of victory was 0.021-seconds.
Pole-winner Shelby Blackstock, son of country music star Reba McIntrye, and co-driver Jade Buford finished 10th in the No. 51 Roush Performance Mustang Boss 302 R.
The 2012 GRAND-AM CTSCC schedule will resume on March 30 at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.
Meanwhile, the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 takes center stage on Saturday. Ryan Dalziel qualified on-pole Thursday with a fast lap of 1 minute, 41.119-seconds and 126.741 mph in his No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley. Joining Dalziel on the front row will be the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP driven by Max Angelelli, who posted numbers of 1 minute, 41.240-seconds and 126.590 mph.
The GT pole was claimed by Brumos Racing Porsche driver Andrew Davis with numbers of 1:49.342 at 117.210 mph in the famed No. 59.
Green flag for Round 1 of the 13-event GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule will drop at 3:30 p.m. ET, with 15½ hours of live television coverage on SPEED beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET/11 p.m. PT. A total of 60 car/driver combinations are scheduled to start.No Comment