Buddy Rice got his year off to a flying start with a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but things have been a little quiet for him since then. However, the 2004 Indianapolis 500, champ will return to the cockpit next month, again in Grand-Am Rolex Series competition.
Rice and Antonio Garcia – his teammate in their winning effort at the Rolex 24 – have signed to co-drive the No. 90 Porsche Coyote for Spirit of Daytona Racing, starting with the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4. The event will mark the Rolex Series debut for the newest-specification Coyote chassis, which Rice and Garcia will share through the remainder of the 2009 season, save for the Miller Motorsports Park event in September.
“Obviously, we’re really excited not only to have Buddy and Antonio racing with us, but also to start the next chapter in our development with the Coyote chassis with this debut at our home track in Daytona,” said team owner Troy Flis. “We’ve been working flat out to be ready to go with this car and even though we have not logged too many miles with it in testing, I’m confident we can give the new car a good strong run at Daytona and we are looking forward to building on that through the second half of the season with these guys.”
Rice, who has driven countless combinations of formula and sports car machinery, looks forward to continuing the development of the Coyote chassis.
“We want to make a good showing at Daytona, of course, but it’s more about the future and about developing the car, just getting the time, mileage, and understanding of what it takes to make this car fast,” said Rice, who made his first start in Grand-Am competition in 2000. “We need to gather the miles and establish data points with the car and make some baby steps before really going after it. This weekend really is a first tune up for the Rolex 24 next year, to see where this car is and what needs to happen in the next six months to be competitive in the 24.”
Rice is looking forward to being part of the highly competitive Rolex Sports Car Series once again, as well as working with a motor-chassis combination that is unique in the category.
“There are a lot of highly talented drivers here in Rolex, not just for the 24 but for all these races,” said Rice. “There are a lot of different winners, every weekend. You have to work and push all the time, so of course it’s really exciting for the drivers.”