DAYTONA BEACH, FL.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is known to be a test of man and machine and the elite crew and driving squad from Paul Miller Racing put the field on notice with a remarkable run to second place in class and 13th overall in the 50-car field. Bryce Miller started the No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche GT3 from 13th position and quickly began climbing through the field. Miller co-drove with Rob Bell, Bryan Sellers and Tim Sugden.
Daytona International Speedway is as unforgiving as it is unique though; race craft and technical expertise are just as important as having the right driver lineup and equipment package. Throughout the event Paul Miller, whose credentials as a driver and team owner speak for themselves, led the team from the pits. Unofficially, the team had 27 pit stops and completed 683 laps in the 24 hour period at an average speed of 101.345 mph around the 3.56-mile road course.
“I was in there the whole time, 24 hours,” Paul Miller said. “There were only two rough moments really, that related to the spoiler. We ran the car off the road this morning, just made a driving error and broke the spoiler but not completely. Then this afternoon it kind of exploded on Tim and he went straight at the bus stop and kind of bounced around the grass. It could have been much, much worse if we hadn’t been under control. When I saw that car come in with all kinds of stuff hanging down I thought it was really over. I thought there was no way this is going to be a quick fix so we could get the car back out, but it all worked out fantastic. Those were really our only real issues, we had an awesome car. We’re really excited.”
The No. 48 took the lead after sundown and held it for much of the night before settling into second position. A 57-lap early-morning caution due to fog kept the team locked in and unable to continue their advance. Bell enjoyed his time at the track and hopes to return for another shot at the coveted Rolex champion’s watch.
“What a brilliant event, I absolutely loved it,” Bell said. “It’s good to be part of it, that’s first and foremost. Seeing the guys in there with the watch makes me feel like I want to come back again definitely, go one up. It’s a brilliant event, the prestige of winning it is huge, so it’s bitten me, the bug has bitten me and I’ll be back I’m sure.”
With over 18 hours of racing completed, Sellers took control of the car early Sunday afternoon and went to battle with the fatigued field. In a further testament to the expertise of the No. 48’s crew, the fastest lap for the team of 1:49.740 came in lap 471.
“To be honest, every stint I was in was kind of difficult in its own right,” Sellers said. “It was such a battle the whole way through that you could never let down at all. Literally, it came down to a lap there at the end, and that lap could have been gained or lost anywhere. It was a difficult race; you had to be on your toes the whole time. We had a couple of miscues that hurt us with some of the wave-by rules, but it’s one of those things that you have to learn from. All in all it was very good.”
During Miller’s final stint, a Daytona Prototype had a cut tire that led to shredded carbon fiber flying onto the circuit, bringing out the last of the race’s 23 cautions, and leading to a one-lap shootout at the end of the race. Bryce Miller’s proficiency in endurance racing surely came into play during the race’s hectic final hours.
“There were some drivers that were pretty aggressive towards those last couple of hours that I was in the car,” Bryce Miller said. “I was a little surprised by that because for us, and I think a lot of others, the goal was just to bring it home. I found a really nice rhythm in the car and we just had such a good, solid car. A really predictable and comfortable car. I have the crew to thank for that. It’s just a great feeling.”
Paul Miller Racing is among the top GT-style teams competing in North American sports car road racing. In 2011, the team will contest the full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, as well as the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team enjoys a long-standing relationship with Porsche and competes with the support of three international sponsors in Marquis Jet, IPC Information Systems and TOTAL Lubricants.
Attached Photo: The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche racing on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. Credit: Bob Chapman