The Doran Racing / McDonald’s team battled through conditions more
suited to jet skis than race cars and scored another top-7 finish at
this weekend’s Verizon Wireless 250, round 3 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex
Sports Car Series.
The Doran Racing / McDonald’s team battled through conditions more suited to jet skis than race cars and scored another top-7 finish at this weekend’s Verizon Wireless 250, round 3 of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Brad Jaeger, co-driver of the #77 Doran Racing/ McDonald’s/Doran-Dallara Ford, qualified the car 10th on the grid for the start of the 250-mile main event and drove several stints, running consistently with the leaders and as high as second in the early stages of the race. The team called him in for a pit stop and driver change when two cars spun into the tire barrier, but the expected yellow flag was never displayed and the #77 car dropped a lap down. Gidley continued to battle his way back through the pack, finally finishing 7th after a long and difficult day.
"I’m really happy with how the team stuck together and got through the weekend with a good finish and an undamaged car," said Jaeger. "We struggled with the setup in the dry, but when it started raining, we went a completely different direction with the springs, shocks and everything; and it was really good. Memo was fastest in the final wet practice session before the start of the race. The track conditions were both horrible and fun; it was pouring all the time and nobody could see anything, and you couldn’t even go full throttle on the straights because there was so much water on the track the tires would just spin. Kevin Doran called me in for a driver change when he saw the two cars into the tires but they never threw the yellow, so it cost us some time, but we still managed a good finish."
Brad Jaeger is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and recent graduate of Vanderbilt University where he was a member of their Formula SAE team. His racing resume includes karting, Sports 2000, Skip Barber, F2000, Star Mazda and the Indy Pro Series. He co-drove his first prototype race for the Doran team in the 2007 season finale at Miller Motorsport Park and was Gidley’s full-time co-driver during the 2008 season.
"We were actually happy when the rain came because we had such a great wet setup for the car that we were the fastest car on the track," said Gidley. "Brad did a great job and was in the car for a long time while the team was waiting for a yellow flag to put me in. Somehow those cars that went into the tire barrier got going again and we lost a lap in the pits, but that wasn’t really a mistake, just one of those things. The team ran a good, solid effort all weekend and brought it home under conditions that saw a lot of damage to a lot of cars. We’re in good shape and I’m looking forward to the next race at my home track of Laguna Seca in two weeks."
Gidley, who co-drives the #77 Doran Racing/McDonald’s/Doran-Dallara Ford, is a talented and widely respected American driver who was born in La Paz, Mexico and now makes his home in Novato, California. He has made a name for himself as one of the most committed drivers in the paddock, driving and winning in everything from karts to Indy Cars and stock cars to prototypes. 2009 will mark Gidley’s fifth season in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series DP class, and his third season with Doran Racing.
And in the midst of this epic struggle, Doran Racing and officials from the Grand-Am series still found time to provide the experience of a lifetime for a dozen members of the "The Bronx Flash Track Club," non-profit community organization that serves children ages 9-18 years old who are interested in running as a means to achieving a healthy and successful lifestyle. The adventure included a tour of the Grand-Am garages and the Doran Racing transporter, as well as a Q&A session with drivers Gidley and Jaeger.
"I can’t thank Grand-Am and Doran Racing enough for the time and effort they put forward to provide our kids with both a great adventure and a tremendous learning experience," said Bronx Flash Track Club founder Don Bellino. "They were talking about it all the way home and I have no doubt the lessons they learned and people they met will continue to be a positive influence on them in the future."
The next event on the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Schedule is the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 15 – 17. Several practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, May 15, with qualifying for the Rolex DP cars scheduled to take place from 1:45 – 2:00 pm, Saturday, May 16. The 2 3/4-hour Verizon Festival of Speed is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 pm Sunday, May 17. The race will be broadcast live starting at 4pm ET on SPEED TV.
"This is my home track, the place where I went to my first race, drove my first race car and scored a podium as a Champ Car driver," says Gidley. "Every time I go back and look at the building where the Jim Russell Racing School used to be located, where I used to work as a mechanic during the day, and drive around Monterey where I used to deliver pizzas at night, I’m amazed – and thankful – at how far I’ve come."