DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – January 23, 2015 – Doran Racing’s Nissan 370Zs will start ninth and 11th in today’s season opener for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series at Daytona International Speedway after qualifying in those positions Thursday afternoon on the 3.56-mile road course.
Nick McMillen of Salem, Ore., celebrated his 22nd birthday in fine style. The Nissan GT Academy standout qualified ninth in his first race ever in the United States and in this particular car, the #41 that he’ll share with Bryan Heitkotter of Fresno, Calif. McMillen’s best lap was done in 1:57.708 for an average speed of 108.880 miles per hour. That was only 1.188 seconds off the Mustang that won the pole and 0.521 off the Camaro that qualified fifth, which is a remarkable accomplishment for a driver who took his first lap at Daytona and his first lap in this car about 24 hours earlier. His best lap came on lap three of four turned in the qualifying session.
Brad Jaeger of Charlottesville, Va., ran over a curb early in the session that compromised his car’s alignment, but he’ll start right behind McMillen in 11th place in the #14 he shares with B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati. His best lap was also lap three of four, when he was timed in 1:57.916 for an average speed of 108.688 mph.
The Lebanon, Ohio-based team changed the engine in the #41 prior to qualifying, and after qualifying it was working on that car’s differential. A problem with the differential was thought to be the reason why McMillen came to a stop in the Bus Stop to bring out a red flag at the end of the session. Without having his best lap thrown out for causing a red, he would have qualified seventh with a 1:57.475 on lap two.
“I got a good lap early because there was no traffic around me,” McMillen said. “Then I think at the end we must have had a problem with the differential, because there was no noise and no mis-shift, but I just lost power in Turn 6.
“I’ve been driving Nissans with a sequential transmission and paddle shifters, so getting used to racing with a manual transmission has been challenging,” he added. “There is tough competition in this series. Just getting used to the car and the track has been a challenge. I’m trying my best to be consistent and smooth, and I’m learning the limits of the car.”
When asked if this was the best birthday he’s ever had, he said “I have to say ‘Yes!'” with a smile.
“I think we have a really good car for the race,” said Jaeger. “Very early in the session I hit a curb too hard and threw off the alignment in the right-front suspension. Given my mistake early on, I’m pleased to hang on with 11th. Doran Racing and Nissan deserved to be higher up because the car was there, but I just hit a curb too hard.
“Our car was really loose in practice, but the track conditions changed and with the new tires, we were right there,” he added. “I think we have a good car for the race. We’ll just try to stay clean and be there at the end tomorrow.”
Friday’s 2.5-hour race, which is called the BMW Performance 200, is slated to begin at 1:45 p.m. It will be covered live on IMSA.com.
For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com and its Facebook page.