MONTEREY, California – May 15, 2009 – With competitive 5th- and 7th-place finishes in Rounds Two and three of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the Doran Racing / McDonald’s team is on form and up to speed heading into this weekend’s Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? the very track where Doran co-driver Memo Gidley got his start in racing.
“This is my home track, the place where I went to my first race, drove my first race car and scored a podium as a Champ Car driver,” says Gidley. “Every time I go back and look at the building where the Jim Russell Racing School used to be located, where I used to work as a mechanic during the day, and drive around Monterey where I used to deliver pizzas at night, I’m amazed ? and thankful ? at how far I’ve come.”
The team’s experience at this track in 2008 was aptly summed-up by the name of the race: the RumBum250 — after scoring back-to-back top-10 finishes in the two previous events at Mexico City and VIR, Doran Racing had one of those ?character-building weekends? in which the #77 Doran Racing Doran/Dallara Ford of Memo Gidley and co-driver Brad Jaeger qualified 13th on the grid but suffered suspension and half-shaft damage during on-track contact with another car and was relegated to a 34th-place finish, 27 laps down on the leaders. But this is a forward-looking team not inclined to let problems linger from session to session, much less season to season.
“We’re definitely set to go back and have a good race and hopefully score our first podium finish of the season,” says Jaeger. “Last year this was the first high-downforce track we went to with the new Dallara bodywork and it was really a substantial improvement. And this year, with all the additional upgrades and all the kinks from last year worked out, we should be fast right from the start. The track layout is amazing and I love driving there, but the main issue is all the gravel traps they put in for the motorcycle races; if you go off, you’re stuck and there’s nothing to do but throw the yellow flag and wait for them to pull you out. So the name of the game is to stay on the track yet go fast; you can’t drop wheels off and you have to be careful of the curbing. So our strategy will be to have a quick, clean race and bring the car home with a good result.”
During the 2008 season, the Doran Racing team scored eleven top-10 finishes, including eight in a row. In 2009 after falling victim to an engine electrical failure in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Doran Racing / McDonald’s team has shown its true colors as one of the Grand-Am series front-runners. In Round Two at Virginia International Raceway on April 26, the duo of Gidley and Jaeger qualified the car in 9th and finished 5th. In Round Three at New Jersey Motorsports Park, during a race-long downpour that made racing extremely difficult, the team qualified 10th and were headed for a podium finish until a late-race yellow flag failed to materialize despite several cars in the tire wall; the Doran / McDonald’s car fishtailed across the finish line in 7th. As a result, Doran Racing is currently 7th in the team points championship and Gidley and Jaeger are tied for 7th in the driver’s championship.
Round Four on the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Schedule is the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 15 – 17. Several practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, May 15, with qualifying for the Rolex DP cars scheduled to take place from 1:45 – 2:00 pm, Saturday, May 16. The 2 3/4-hour Verizon Festival of Speed is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 pm Sunday, May 17. The race will be broadcast live starting at 4pm ET on SPEED TV.