Rolex 24 At Daytona
2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance®/JDC-Miller MotorSports/ORECA/Gibson
January 25-28, 2018
Racetrack: Daytona International Speedway
3.56-mile “Roval”, features 12 turns
Date: Saturday, January 27 – Sunday January 28th 2:40pm green/checker
TV: Saturday, January 27th at 2pm on FOX
Live updates are available throughout the weekend on social media and www.gainscoracing.com
The Red Dragon’s Return: GAINSCO Auto Insurance announced their partnership with JDC-Miller MotorSports and their return to IMSA competition just one month ago. The No. 99 Red Dragon™ has been missing from IMSA competition since their devastating accident at the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona competing under the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing banner. The team made nine starts at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, from 2006-2014.
Coast to Coast in 24 Hours: Based on a green race at the pace of the fastest lap at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, the 2018 Rolex 24 will be 1,066 laps and 3,794.96 miles! That’s equivalent to racing from the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Maine to the beaches of Santa Monica in 24 hours! No rest stops…just pit stops! Forty of them are planned for a total of 780 gallons of fuel. Thirty-six sets of Continental Tires and a few sets of fresh brakes!
Sounds Expensive? It is! The VP Racing fuel runs $13 per gallon…for a whopping gas bill of $10,140. 36 sets of Continental race tires are allowed, at $2600 per set…for a total of $93,600.
Red Dragon Rewind: It was 10 years ago that GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing finished second at the 2008 Rolex 24 with Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser piloting the Red Dragon.
4 – 24 Hr. Race Winners in the Red Dragon Line-Up: All four drivers of the No. 99 Red Dragon have won a 24-hour endurance race. Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller won the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona as teammates competing in the PC class. This will be the second year the trio takes the green flag together in the P class; last year they finished 5th at Daytona. FIA World Endurance Challenge driver Gustavo Menezes joins the squad this year. Gustavo won LeMans in his first attempt, competing in the LMP2. His victory was especially notable because he completed a quadruple stint on the same set of tires through the night. This season, Gustavo moves to LMP1 with Rebellion Racing.
Stephen Simpson on the characteristics of the No. 99 Red Dragon – ORECA and the compromises they make setting up the car for the oval to road course “roval” transition: “Our car really is great to drive. It is fast and probably the most impressive aspect is how well the car stops, the brakes are good! What you don’t see from the outside is how much vibration there is inside the car, especially when we are on the banking and straightaways when the RPMs are high; this is something that I have gotten used to but every now and then it still surprises me. The oval portion of Daytona is full throttle, but we do have to sacrifice the setup for the bumps that are on the oval, especially coming onto the main straightaway. This means we must lift the car up, so we don’t damage the bottom of the car during the race, but in doing this it means we will lose some grip in the infield section. The challenge is making sure we only lift the car up as little as possible, so we don’t hit the bumps, but also give ourselves the best car for the infield section!”
Misha Goikhberg on traffic and spotters: “This year we have an incredible field with 20 prototypes and 51 cars overall. Even though we are spread across the 3.5-mile circuit, the race pace is going to be very fast and we will always be in traffic. With three classes running at once, a good spotter is very important. They are our extra set of eyes around the circuit and good communication is imperative. They allow us as drivers to stay focused on the fastest line around the track. The depth of talent in the field this year is incredible, it is an honor to race against these guys and the pace is going to be like qualifying most of the time.”
Chris Miller comments on returning this year after one year of “P” competition: “When we went to the Rolex 24 At Daytona last year, we were coming off our 2016 victory in the PC class, but were Rookies in the P class, so everything was new, and we really had no idea what to expect. We went on to have a very successful year with two podiums and finishing 4th in the championship, so it’s exciting to go back this year feeling confident that we have a competitive package and one we believe can contend for the race win. If we execute like we know we can then I fully expect us to have the GAINSCO No. 99 Red Dragon in contention late into Sunday.”
Gustavo Menezes on the differences between the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: “Getting to race in two of the biggest races in the world is incredible and there are a few differences. At Le Mans you can only have three drivers and every driver must drive at least six hours. That can be tough especially if one of the drivers is suffering; last year I drove nearly 12 hours. Also, the regulations over in Europe, we must stop the engine and we have to re-fuel at a different time than when doing tire changes, although that is changing for next year. Using the Dunlop tire versus the Continental tire is a massive difference, as tire wear comes into the game a lot more. I’ve won Le Mans, now I’ve got to win Daytona!”
Photo Credit: LAT Photo