June 29, 2014

SPIRIT OF DAYTONA WINS AT WATKINS GLEN

VALIANTE, WESTBROOK EARN PATRON ENDURANCE CUP VICTORY

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK (June 29, 2014) – In a six-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race that came down to the wire, Richard Westbrook was in the right place at the right time.

Westbrook drove his No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.COM/GoPro Corvette DP past Alex Brundle in Turn 4 at Watkins Glen International after a late-race caution wiped out Brundle’s sizable lead. He then led the final five laps for a 0.877-second victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The race was the third round in the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

"Richard and my approach for the last couple of races was to keep the car safe and be in a position that would allow us to take a podium or possibly the win,” said Spirit of Daytona co-driver Michael Valiante. "It’s worked for us the last two races.”

The team was coming off a second-place finish in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers at the Belle Isle Street Circuit, its first podium of the season.

The win was the fourth for Daytona Beach-based Spirit of Daytona, and the first since Sept. 9, 2012 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. All three of the team’s previous wins came that season.

"It’s a massive relief for us to get a victory,” Westbrook said. "It’s been a bit of a dry spell for us, especially on the back of a successful 2012. We’ll take that win for sure.”

Despite taking a runner-up finish after leading late, Brundle and his No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan co-drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung were able to take positives away from their first visit to the historic 3.4-mile track.

"It’s been a tremendous effort from my team and both teammates,” Brundle said."We made a step forward in pace, understanding the car and understanding the tire. I think we can go away happy but we did kind of snatch defeat from the jaws of victory a little bit.”

Brundle, who started the race from the pole position, grabbed the lead on Lap 170 after Valiante brought the No. 90 to pit road for tires, fuel and a driver change with 48 minutes remaining in the race. An accident between Alex Tagliani and Ian James brought out a full-course caution, giving Westbrook the opportunity to catch Brundle.

Brundle had one last chance to track down Westbrook when Scott Pruett was spun by Renger van der Zande with 10 minutes remaining. Safety officials hurried to ready the race track, and Westbrook prevailed in a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.

Momentum is on the side of OAK Racing, however, having placed on the podium two consecutive races.

"I’m really proud of the team, the guys worked really hard on the car last night,” Yacaman said. "They stayed up until 1 a.m. making some updates to the car and getting it ready for the race. ”

"Every race we’ve started we’ve been consistent. We keep moving up the ladder on the podium. We really need that win, we’re looking for that win. We’ll keep working, working hard until we can get the win.”

Westbrook and Valiante earned eight points in the Patrón Endurance Cup, matching leaders Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi of Action Express Racing, who led at the race’s halfway point.

Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor finished fifth, but were able to maintain their TUDOR Championship Prototype lead in the standings.


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