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Daytona Pre-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ pre-race notebook for the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona…

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Photo: John Dagys

***Level 5 Motorsports has drafted in an impressive list of NASCAR spotters to help guide its two-car Ferrari GTD effort to victory lane on Sunday. Jeff Gordon’s spotter Eddie D’Hondt, Tim Fedewa (Kevin Harvick), Tyler Green (Aric Almirola) and Billy O’Dea (Austin Dillon) will be rotating in four-hour shifts atop the Sprint Tower. Outside of oval tracks, spotters are typically not used in sports car racing.

***Riley Technologies will be seeking its 10th consecutive overall win on Sunday, although will face stiff competition from Coyote Cars, which claimed three of the four top starting positions with its Corvette-bodied DPs. The pole-sitting GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, however, is Riley-chassied.

***Despite the new-for-2014 rules allowing refueling while the engine is running, Corvette Racing will shut off their V8 powerplants during pit stops on the grounds of safety. Under the new regulations, refueling will be allowed during tire changes.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon will have the honor of waving the starting flag for the first-ever TUDOR Championship race. GRAND-AM founder and IMSA chairman Jim France served as the starter for last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, showcasing the two sanctioning body’s strong ties to each other.

***Snow Racing’s No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America is the only car in the 29-car GTD class field with a three-driver lineup. Jan Heylen, Madison Snow and Marco Seefried will be behind the wheel for the entirety of the race.

***IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield is giving NGT Motorsport a helping hand with race strategy this weekend for its No. 30 MOMO Porsche 911 GT America of Henrique Cisneros, Kuba Giermaziak, Christina Nielsen and Nicki Thiim. It marks Barfield’s return to sports car racing, having served as ALMS race director from 2008-2011, although the Rolex 24 will mark his debut in a strategist role.

***David Donohue, who was part of Napleton Racing’s GX-class winning lineup in 2013, is one of several class winners not back to defend their title. Edoardo Mortara, who was part of the Alex Job Racing Audi R8 that won in GT, is not in the GT Daytona class field. Meanwhile Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball, part of the overall winners from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, will focus solely on their IndyCar efforts this year.

***The PC and GTD categories will require at least two Bronze or Silver-rated drivers in each lineup to complete a minimum of 4 hours and 20 minutes of drive time in the race for the entry to be classified. The same requirement is in place to score driver points. Prototype and GT Le Mans drivers, meanwhile, must complete only 45 minutes for points.

***Three drivers: Scott Tucker, Alex Popow and Paul Dalla Lana will be pulling double-duty between two cars in the race. Tucker is scheduled to pilot both Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari GTD entries, while Popow will share seat time in both the No. 78 Starworks Motorsport Riley-Dinan DP and the team’s No. 7 Oreca FLM09 in PC. Dalla Lana, meanwhile, will pilot both his season-long No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 in GTD and the No. 97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 in GTLM.

***Popow is aiming to score points in both Starworks entries as he’s yet to decide on his 2014 championship focus. The Venezuelan driver is still working to secure sponsorship for the remainder of the year but is hopeful of finalizing plans in the coming weeks.

***With 13 podium finishes int he last 19 years, including four GT class victories, TRG is one of the most successful teams in Rolex 24 history. The Kevin Buckler-led squad fields a modest two-car Aston Martin Vantage V8 effort this year. Remarkably, a total of 64 cars have been entered under the TRG banner over the last 14 years.

***The competition in the GTD class has been exceptionally competitive, with the top-19 cars in qualifying separated by less than 1 second, including the top-6 by just 1 tenth. With six manufacturers represented in the class, it proves the success of IMSA’s Balance of Performance process.

***The DeltaWing has been given a five-liter increase in fuel capacity, boosting the Prototype contender to 53 liters. That compares to the gasoline-powered P2 cars’ 72 liters and DPs’ 76 liters for the season-opener.

***DragonSpeed is giving a helping hand to SMP/ESM Racing this weekend, providing trackside support and mechanics for the Franco-Russian GTD outfit. The Elton Julian-owned team will campaign the same Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge this year for Mike Hedlund.

***8Star Motorsports will be assisting OAK Racing throughout the TUDOR Championship season with equipment and space at its Pompano Beach, Fla. shop. The French squad, which won last year’s FIA WEC LMP2 championship, fields a Morgan-Nissan in the Prototype class.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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