Press Contact: Dennis Punch (704) 530-4754
Alton, VA (April 23, 2006) … Chris Dyson and Guy Smith recorded their second consecutive top ten finish in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series with a strong tenth-place run in the VIR 400 Sunday afternoon at the Virginia International Raceway. Their impressive performance earned the #16 Thetford/Norcold Racing Team from Howard-Boss Motorsports the Sun Trust Advance Your Position Award for the event. The prestigious award honors the team who advances the most during an event from their starting to finishing position. The #16 team advanced sixteen positions in the VIR 400 (25th to 10th) to earn the award. However, winning this award was only part of the story for this team this weekend.
The VIR 400 was the third race for the #16 Thetford / Norcold Team this season in the Rolex series. The team will compete on a limited schedule this season, and posted finishes of 14th in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and 7th at Homestead in their earlier two races. Plus, the VIR 400 was being run under a different format this year. A qualifying race would determine the starting grid for the 250-mile feature event, the first time such a format has been used for the Daytona Prototype cars.
Mother Nature decided to play a role in the VIR 400 weekend strategy with heavy rain on Friday and Saturday. Therefore, since the #16 Thetford / Norcol;d Racing Team was not running all the events and competing for the Rolex Series Championship, the decision was made to not take any unnecessary chances in the qualifying event. With rain and terrible race conditions facing the competitors in the thirty minute sprint, the #16 team decided to start in the rear of the DP Class in the VIR 400 and not risk their equipment in the qualifying race. Therefore, Guy Smith would start 26th on Sunday in the Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford.
It didn’t take long for Smith to show that the #16 team would have a competitive car on Sunday when he charged from 26th to 7th in the first eight laps. When the first caution waved on lap eight for an accident in turn 17, the Thetford/Norcold crew did not pit, electing for track position in the early stages of the 250-mile race. Smith would restart fourth on lap 15, drive into third on lap 25, and move into second three laps later. He was running second when he pitted on lap 31.
This scheduled stop for tires, fuel, and driver change came during the second caution of the race. Chris Dyson, who won the first race for the Crawford SSC2K teaming with Andy Wallace in 2002 at VIR, took the controls of the #16 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford and would restart seventh on lap 35. Dyson would move to sixth on lap 46, and gain one additional position one lap later. When a full course caution waved on lap 54, Dyson came to pit road in the fifth position for fuel only. With several cars out of pit sequence and remaining on the course, Dyson would restart tenth on lap 58. The veteran road racer would maintain his top ten position during the closing laps to earn the second consecutive top ten finish for the #16 Thetford/Norcold Racing Team this season.
“For the second race in a row, we showed that we can compete with the leaders,” Dyson commented. “It was very satisfying and the team has made tremendous strides since our first race at Daytona. We had a very good racecar today. It’s a shame that we didn’t have a traditional qualifying session, but the fact that we went from last to second in the first stint shows that we had a pretty good package. Unfortunately, I got hit on the second restart from the end and it damaged the aero (aerodynamics) and knocked the toe out. So, the car was a real handful toward the end. We’ve made huge gains and I’m really looking forward to Daytona and Watkins Glen.”
“It was our second consecutive fun race – here and Homestead,” Smith added. “Obviously, we’re not going for championship points, so we had a lot of fun coming from the back. Any time that you can finish in the top ten in one of these Grand Am races, you’ve done a good job. The team did a fantastic job and the car was really strong. It was a great weekend.” By the way, Smith was making his first career start at the picturesque Virginia track, but adapted to the treacherous 17-turn course very well.
The next race for the #16 Thetford / Norcold Racing Team will be the Six Hours of Watkins Glen on the weekend of June 3rd. Following Watkins Glen, the team will race at Daytona International Speedway on June 29th in the Brumos Porsche 250.