Friday, January 28, 2011

The 'Geekiest 24 Hour Preview

Seems that there's some sort of event going on this weekend that has the racing world all a-Twitter. Yes, that's right, it's time for the 3rd Annual Blogathon, this time sponsored by this here site, Grab Bag Sports (the last two years were covered by Allen and Mike when it was still the Furious Wedge). Oh, I do suppose that racing folks might also be talking about the race that just so happens to be going on at the same time as our delightful little sports orgy (sporgy?). Seeing as how I'm one of the racing fellas here, and some folks may be less familiar with what all might be expected in this year's Daytona 24 Hour race, I suppose I'll do a little handicapping of the field.

Daytona Prototype

The Favorites:
Chip Ganassi Racing - The #01 car is being driven by factory BMW driver Joey Hand, IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, and winners of nine of last year's 12 GrandAm races, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The #02 car is driven by some bundle of non-sports car driving stiffs. Ganassi's solid DP background ought to be enough to make up for most of what the driving crew in the #02 lacks, though. Oh, did I mention that Ganassi has won this race three times in the last five years and lost the other two by a combined 55 seconds?

Action Express Racing - The #5 car has David Donohue, Darren Law, Burt Frisselle and 2004 Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice. 'Nuff said there. The #9 car is the defending champion of the Daytona 24 Hours. More than 'nuff said there.

Sun Trust Racing - Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor return in the #10 this year, and are joined by Ryan Briscoe and team owner (and Ricky's dad) Wayne Taylor. Not returning is last year's sometimes great, sometimes on the fritz Ford engine, now replaced by the Chevrolet V8.

Level 5 Motorsports - The #55 and the #95 are both being driven by Scott Tucker, for all 24 hours. I'm not sure how he's going to do that, but he did that a lot in the ALMS last year as well. What? Oh, I'm being told that he's actually got three other co-drivers in each car. Whatever. They're again also using last year's dominant BMW/Dinan V8, which inexplicably has been picked up by ZERO GrandAm teams for this year. Since they managed a podium finish last year, I'd say they ought to be in the running for that again this year.

Bob Stallings Racing - The #99 car is being driven by Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and a Jimmie Johnson. I've never heard of this last guy. Fogarty and Gurney should be able to carry him, though something seems to always go wrong for Stallings.

The Mid-Packers:
Michael Shank Racing - The #6 and the #60 always seem to run well for about 16 hours at Daytona. Then, things go wrong. Ford engines expire, anvils fall out of the sky and roadrunners manage to just scoot out of their reach in a cloud of dust. In light of this, I can't give them very favorable odds.

Flying Lizard Racing - In our first podcast, I called this team my "dark horse" pick to win. Then, Joerg Bergmeister went and screwed all that "under the radar" stuff by going and putting the car on the pole. Damn you, Joerg. Well, I still think that this team is less likely to win than all of the teams up in the first tier up there, but don't be surprised if they're still hanging around in the top-5 when the sun comes up.

The Field:
Everybody else is lacking something important to win. The United Autosport car is missing a driver lineup who has raced more than a handful of times in the last five years. The Krohn, Doran and Spirit of Daytona teams are all running oddball chassis which have had limited success at Daytona. The Starworks team is missing any prior results that would lead me to believe that they can beat every other team I've already listed, though apparently they've now added a #2 car in the last few days, and also added EJ Viso to its driver lineup. That addition alone might nullify every single word I've already written.

GrandAm GT:

The Favorites:
The Racers Group - Kevin Buckler is back running roughly 82 Porsches. One of them will probably win, since it looks like the Mazda RX-8s just aren't as quick as they used to be, comparatively speaking. Of all the TRG Porsches, though, I'd put my money on the #67. Yes, I know they're on the pole, so this is not exactly going out on a limb, but there you go. I'm a big wuss.

Turner Motorsports - The BMW M6 was fast last year, and it's thought that the car, now that it's been reskinned as an M3, may have even better aerodynamics and better agility through the infield. I'll say that this car, even though it's the only M3 in the field, will be up near the TRG Porsches on Sunday afternoon.

SpeedSource - The defending champs of the race. I don't think the RX-8 is where it was this time last year, but if all the Porsches hit a common mechanical fault (not likely, but still), the Speedsource Mazdas will probably be the ones there to pick up the pieces.

The Mid-Packers:
Brumos Racing - This team is back in the GT ranks after years in the DP class. In light of that, even though they've got a fast Porsche and a quality driver lineup (including multi-multi-multi time Daytona 24 champion Hurley Haywood), their unfamiliarity with running the slower class might be their undoing.

Banner Racing / Stevenson Motorsports / Autohaus Motorsports - The Camaros, while improved vastly since this time last year, are possibly not quite there for a 24 hour race.

Magnus Racing - They've got a Porsche, and they scored a bundle of top-5s last year. That's about all I got there.

The Field:
The rest of the field is chock full of interesting stories like oddball cars (a BMW M6, a couple of Ferrari F430s, a Mustang) movie stars (Patrick Dempsey) some fantastic drivers (Dandy Randy Pobst, for one, Memo Gidley, for another), but no real winning threats. You're better off to look above for your winner.

All right. We're about 14 hours away from the green flag and even less than that away from the beginning of the Blogathon madness. Time to get some sleep, everybody!

1 comment:

Mike said...

The two most important words of this post: Flying Lizard.