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Spirit Of Daytona Wins At The Glen

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 29 2014

The Corvette of the Spirit of Daytona team was overall winner at Watkins Glen on Sunday.


The No. 90 Visit Florida Corvette DP raced to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen International on Sunday after Richard Westbrook made a move for the lead past Alex Brundle’s Nissan Morgan P2 car in the final minutes of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Westbrook, who shared the driving duties with Michael Valiante made the lead stick in a final lap restart after a full-course caution to score the victory for the Spirit of Daytona Racing team.

“That yellow made things complicated for us at the end because we were good on fuel and we just needed it to go green,” Westbrook said. “But you know you cant count on that in racing. The yellow came, it was unfortunate for Alex (Brundle) as he got caught up with the 9 car on the restart so I got a really good run and I made it stick. Well done to Michael (Valiante), his stints were incredible, fast and still saving fuel. I’m just so thrilled for everyone on this Visit Florida team, it’s just a massive achievement. We just needed a podium, it has taken a while, but we just want to make this a habit now like we did in 2012, finishing on the podium. I’m really proud to be part of this team. ”

“I knew Richard would be great on the restart,” said Valiante of what it was like to watch the final few laps. “I knew if he could get into turn one we would be ok. This whole race was just like qualifying laps. Our approach was to just keep the car safe and be in position to podium. We’ve had quick cars and the team has been doing a great job. The racing is really close in this series and we would like to keep this roll going with some more podiums.”

The victory is the fourth IMSA Prototype win for the team, with Westbrook and winning co-driver Michael Valiante having won together for the team at Mid-Ohio in 2012.

Brundle finished second while the No. 5 Action Express Corvette of Christian Fittibpaldi/Burt Frisselle/Joao Barbosa was third.

The Prototype Challenge class was won the points-leading Core Autosport trio of Colin Braun, James Gue and Jon Bennett.

The trio and to overcome an early mistake for their fourth victory in five races.

Despite winning the pole, the team wasn’t in front of the class until the 40-minute mark in the race. That was short-lived, however, lasting only three laps. From there, the team was in trouble, falling a lap down.

“I was in a pretty good dogfight with some GT Le Mans cars,” Bennett said. “I had some momentum and I popped out to make a pass in the bus stop (chicane). I was between corner worker stations and I realized I was going really fast and everyone else was going really slow. I was hoping no one noticed but they did. So we had a drive-through penalty for that. That got us a little bit behind.”

Braun and Gue were able to make up the difference, with Braun grabbing the lead for good midway through the fourth hour. The victory extends the PC points lead for the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09.

“The result we wanted here was getting the win,” Braun said. “It’s really cool to be able to win these and it helps us for our quest for the championship as well. We’re just trying to get better and improve and keep going on for the next one.”

They team has won all three Patrón Endurance Cup events and lead those standings as well.

“It’s quite an honor to have done well in those races that are a part of the Patron Endurance (Cup),” Bennett said. “It’s the most important endurance races in North America this year, and to kind of highlight them and put them on a pedestal of the championship themselves, it’s a testament to doing so well.”

In GT Le Mans, the Corvette Racing C7.R took top honors with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia at the wheel.

Garcia held off the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R of Marc Goossens on the last-lap restar, giving the team a win for the third straight race. The two also led at the halfway mark to score maximum points en route to a Round 3 victory in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

“I have to say, I am so pleased with how things have gone for the team this year, with the (No.) 3 car especially,” said Magnussen, who picked up his 40th win in North American professional sports car racing. “We’re developing a new car and we keep finding new things to do with it. I just saw that all the fastest race laps for all the GTLMs were all within three tenths (of a second). It is a very competitive category. You have to be on your best game for everything you do. There is no room for any mistakes.”

“The car was really good,” Garcia said. “I was running perfect. Jan (Magnussen) made perfect start and pulled a gap. Then we got a caution but we made the gap back up from zero to almost 20 seconds. Whenever I was able to go full-on we went up to almost a 30-second lead.”

The victory in GT Daytona went to the the No. 94 Turner Motorsports BMW Z4, driven by Dane Cameron.

Cameron and Markus Palttala drove to a dominant victory as they led all but nine laps.

The team also led at the halfway mark to score the maximum 10 points in their Round 3 win in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

The late caution and final lap restart allowed Townsend Bell to close the deficit in the runner-up No. 555 REVO/Robert Graham/Royal Purple/Motegi Ferrari 458 Italia, but there wasn’t enough time to catch Cameron who went on to win by 2.087 seconds.

“It was picture perfect today,” said Palttala, who started the car and quickly moved to the front. “I took the lead in the first corner of the very first lap and never gave it away. Everything went according to plan.”

“It’s pretty special to get the first win for both of us here at Watkins Glen,” added Cameron, picking up his fourth win in North American professional sports car competition. “I checked the [Sahlen’s] Six Hour box and one of the marquee events for us here in the TUDOR Championship. Literally, it could not have gone any better than it did today. The cars were excellent, the team was excellent. Perfect.”

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 29 2014
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