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Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Roar Before 24 weekend at Daytona…

Photo: John Dagys

***JDC-Miller Motorsports took the wraps off the new GAINSCO “Red Dragon” on Thursday afternoon, which will be driven by Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg, Chris Miller and Gustavo Menezes, with Simpson and Goikhberg again set for a full-season campaign.

***GAINSCO’s Bob Stallings revealed they had over a dozen contacts, with eight specific proposals, ranging from GT to prototype teams. “It covered a wide swap of opportunities and we were humbled,” he said. “But JDC-Miller was a no-brainer, with such a great group of people.”

***Stallings said they have a one-year contract with the Minnesota-based team, but with options for a longer-term involvement.

***While remaining at 50 cars, a number of drivers have been added to the entry list for this weekend’s Roar Before the 24.

***Roberto Gonzalez has joined the newly named AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports lineup, alongside Sebastian Saavedra, Gustavo Yacaman and PR1 team regular Nick Boulle in the eye-catching No. 52 Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

***Eddie Cheever III is expected to be confirmed as the third driver in Sprit of Daytona Racing’s Cadillac DPi.V-R, alongside new full-season drivers Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry. Cheever was spotted this afternoon in the paddock in SDR team gear.

***Ryan Cullen and Marc Drumwright are set to test the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports Riley Mk. 30 Gibson alongside Joel Miller, who is confirmed for the Rolex 24. Team owner Brian Alder told Sportscar365 they have multiple options for the Rolex 24, beyond the already-confirmed Miller.

***GRT’s two-car Lamborghini Huracan GT3 lineup has been filled. Franck Perera and Rik Breukers have joined Rolf Ineichen and newly crowned Blancpain GT Series champion Mirko Bortolotti in the No. 11 car, with Max van Splunteren, Christopher Lenz, Louis Machiels, Ezequiel Perez Companc and Christian Engelhart in the No. 19 Lamborghini.

***Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli has been added to Manthey Racing’s lineup with factory driver Sven Mueller and gentlemen drivers Steve Smith, Randy Walls and Harald Proczyk in the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

***Indy Lights race-winner Colton Herta, who is listed in both BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE cars, will not test this weekend, according to a BMW spokesperson. It’s unclear why the second-generation driver was listed, although he is due to test with the BMW-backed Andretti Formula E team next weekend in Marrakesh.

***Click Here to view the latest version of the entry list. 

***Fernando Alonso, who makes his highly anticipated sports car racing debut with United Autosports, is sporting a new helmet design, similar to the design the two-time Formula One World Champion ran in last year’s Indianapolis 500.

***All four Cadillac DPis are running with GM’s updated 5.5-liter V8 engine. As revealed by Sportscar365 last month, the engine was initially evaluated in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry at last mont’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona.

***The ECR-built engine, producing 580 horsepower at 7,050 RPM, features a Cadillac V-Performance-based production block and heads, with a dynamic pressure intake system and IMSA-mandated sonic air restrictors.

***Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner told Sportscar365 they could again use the Mazda RT24-P tub that was damaged in Tristan Nunez’s heavy accident in private testing at Daytona last month. “We swapped it but the other one will come back,” he told Sportscar365. “[Multimatic] will have a look at it and hopefully it will return.”

***Thomas Blam, of Flying Lizard Motorsports fame, has joined Mazda Team Joest as a race strategist. Blam had worked with the Joest operation in 1999/2000 when it ran the factory Audi R8s in the American Le Mans Series. He remains on board with Flying Lizard and K-PAX Racing for its Pirelli World Challenge campaigns. 

***Ex-Audi LMP1 race engineer Justin Taylor, who worked for Ed Carpenter Racing last year in IndyCar, has also returned to Joest for the new Mazda operation.

***WTR is providing logistics and support to Jackie Chan DCR JOTA, which makes its WeatherTech Championship debut. The team’s two Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 cars have been based at WTR’s Indianapolis shop, having flown direct from November’s FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain.

***United Autosports, meanwhile, is utilizing Andretti Autosport transporters, courtesy of its Walkinshaw Andretti United global alliance. Both of the team’s Ligier LMP2 cars arrived late Thursday, just in time for scrutineering.

***IMSA has rolled out a new safety checks procedure, which saw all cars wheeled to a common area on an access road near pit-in for verifications. Officials previously made safety check inspections at each team’s garage area or tent.

***Wolf Henzler is no longer a Porsche factory driver. The German’s services were not renewed for 2018, following a ten-year stint with the manufacturer. Porsche has a total of 18 factory drivers on its arsenal this year, ten of which are set to take part in the Rolex 24.

***While not having a ride for the Rolex 24 or the season, longtime Michael Shank Racing driver Ozz Negri is here this weekend to support the team. “It’s so weird,” Shank told Sportscar365. “He showed up here today because he’s just come to support us and hang out, but we’re talking 14 seasons… I’m trying to keep him around any way I can to be honest with you.”

***Longtime Crawford chief designer Andy Scriven passed away late last month, following complications from a bicycle accident sustained in October. Scriven, who designed the company’s Daytona Prototype, was also instrumental in development of Onroak’s new Formula 3 car. A memorial is being planned at the Mooresville N.C. Hall of Fame later this month.

***Track activity kicks off tomorrow with the first of two on-track sessions for the WeatherTech Championship scheduled from 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET with the second session slated from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series will also be in action throughout the day.

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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