AMA champs 11th in 24 Hours at Daytona

Ward, Russell and Pridmore overcome a pit fire to complete race

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 27, 2009
The AMA Pro Racing Team of Jeff Ward, Scott Russell and Jason Pridmore overcame several difficulties including a pit fire to finish 11th in their class and 23rd overall in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Jan. 24-25.

The three former AMA champions, along with experienced sports car driver Guy Cosmo, completed 649 laps in the No. 09 AMA Pro Racing/Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote Daytona Prototype.

The AMA teams race nearly came to an end with less than four hours remaining after a fire broke out in the pit stall just before noon on Sunday. Russell was strapping into the car after taking over for Cosmo when he noticed something was wrong.

Guy had just exited the car and was over the wall, says Russell, a five-time winner of the Daytona 200. I had my arms through the shoulder belts and I smelled it (fuel) instantly. They took the deck lid off and it flamed up. I dived out and luckily I wasnt strapped in.

The fire produced a large cloud of smoke and fire-fighting chemicals but the Spirit of Daytona team worked to get the No. 09 car back in the race within an hour. The team raced until the finish to place 11th in the Daytona Prototype class after starting the race 13th. Only 29 of 49 cars that started the race finished the full 24 hours.

It was a good experience and I really enjoyed it, says Russell. I cant say enough about the hard work that the crew put in, not only getting us back from the fire, but in the months leading up to the race.

The Brumos Porsche team of Darren Law, David Donohue, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia took the overall and Daytona Prototype class victories with 735 laps. The TRG team of Justin Marks, Andy Lally, RJ Valentine, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long won the Grand Tour class with 695.