Visit Florida Racing Sixth at Circuit of the Americas


IMSA Tudor SeriesAustin, Texas (20 September 2014) – After getting off to a quick start at Circuit of the Americas early in the weekend, Visit Florida Racing did not have the race they had been hoping for in the Lone Star Le Mans event Saturday afternoon. The team took home a disappointing sixth place finish in the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Corvette Daytona Prototype despite having run in podium contention.

When the green flag flew for the Lone Star Le Mans, Michael Valiante opened the race from fourth on the grid but wasted no time in moving forward when he took advantage of two cars getting together in Turn 1 to move up to fourth in line. Making good decisions through slower GT traffic, Valiante got by the No. 01 DP – the eventual winner of the race – and took over third position.

IMSA Tudor SeriesVisit Florida Racing called the No. 90 Corvette DP to pit road for tires and fuel with 42 minutes completed in the race. Valiante returned to the track sixth in line only to be slowed by the first and only caution period of the race. He cycled up to third in the order under the yellow and took over the lead when the race went back to green.

Unfortunately, there was contact between the No. 90 and No. 42 prototype machines and IMSA deemed a drive through penalty on the Visit Florida machine. After pitting for the drive through, Valiante emerged fifth and 23 seconds behind the leader. Looking to make up the time lost, Valiante went to work and was up to third when he was called to pit lane for a driver change, fuel and tires.

“It was a tough weekend because we were good in the beginning and we kind of lost our way and found some things that we changed going into the race and weren’t really sure what kind of car we would have,” said Valiante. “Although we didn’t have the best car, we could still run with the leaders. I was able to get the lead on that restart when the No. 42 and I had contact. So I think in the end, had we not received that penalty from that, we had a top-three or top-four car. It’s a little disappointing but at the end of the day we just have to make the car better so that we are not fighting so hard to come from behind.”

IMSA Tudor SeriesRichard Westbrook took over with just over an hour to go in the race and returned the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Corvette to the track in sixth place. Unfortunately with no more yellows displayed in the race, too much time had been lost and despite setting quick and consistent lap times, there was simply too much time to make up without a caution.

“It was a very tough race for us, but the positive that we can take away from the whole weekend is that we are closer to second than we were before we came into this,” said Westbrook. “But that wasn’t our goal and we wanted to close the gap to the leader in the championship. We have been chasing the car and the track. The track conditions were really difficult out there and the track got really hot in the last stages of the race and there was just no grip out there.”

Visit Florida Racing now sits third in the championship just 23 points behind the leader and one point behind second place.

“It wasn’t the day we wanted for sure,” said Team Owner Troy Flis. “It’s tough. We know what to do and how to do it.  We’ve just been getting caught out. We need to keep our heads up and keep battling through. Everybody gets in these predicaments sometimes and we just have to struggle through right now and keep digging. We’ve got great guys, we’ve got great product. We have to keep our heads down and keep trying. We had issues all weekend, little things, nothing major. But nothing we could put our finger on. I think we had a decent car in the race. We got a penalty that we didn’t really need; that put us back. We would have been a top three car if we didn’t have that. All in all, I’m going to ask my drivers to keep trying and digging as hard as they can every lap. We’ll take that and move on. We’ve got one more to go and we’ve got to make one or two points on the No. 10 car to get second and we’ve got to keep the gap we have to the No. 42. It looks like the No. 5 car did a great job, like they have all year. We’ll battle for second and we’ll look at 2015.”

Visit Florida Racing will travel to Road Atlanta for the final round of the 2014 TUDOR Championship in two weeks.

The Circuit of the Americas event will be televised Sunday, September 21 on FOX. Check your local listings.