DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2011) - After an off-season full of planning and preparations and on the heels of an outstanding test at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, Paul Miller Racing and its four drivers - Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell - are ready to take on many of the world's best sports car racers in the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29-30.
In the Roar Before The Rolex 24 test at Daytona on Jan. 7-9, the Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche GT3 and its talented driver lineup quickly got up to speed. The team methodically worked through its testing plan and in its final on-track session, the No. 48 Porsche posted the second-quickest lap at 1:50.410 (116.076 mph).
In fact, the car was comfortably inside the top five on the GT class time chart in each of its last two on-track sessions on Saturday night (Jan. 8) and Sunday morning (Jan. 9) before the team loaded up early to beat a snowstorm bearing down on the team's race shop in suburban Atlanta.
“We made a lot of changes from the Homestead test (in December), so we were a little uncertain about our rollout here,” says Bryce Miller, the team's lead driver. “However, we exceeded our expectations and the team really proved themselves by rising to the challenge and narrowing in on a setup quite quickly.
“We found a good baseline setup the first day, made some really big strides the second day and by the end of the final day we were fine tuning. Now, I think we have the speed in the car, but maybe more importantly for a 24-hour race, we have the comfort and the drivability. You really need that for a 24-hour race. Everything is coming together. The chemistry in the team is really good, the dynamic with the drivers is really good and there's a lot of respect among the drivers for one another.”
All of the drivers entered in the No. 48 Porsche are veteran endurance racers. Bryce Miller, 28, will be making his fifth Rolex 24 At Daytona start next week and scored a best GT-class result of second in 2008. Sellers, also 28, will make his third Rolex 24 start this year and earned a best GT result of third in 2008. Sugden, 46, has made six Rolex 24 starts with a best run of fourth in the GT class in 2008. Bell, 31, will be making his first Rolex 24 appearance this year, but he has participated in many of the world's other important endurances races - as have his teammates - such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans.
It's a veteran lineup that was put together with the express purpose of winning the Rolex 24, as the team is not planning to compete for the overall GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 championship in 2011. And it's a veteran lineup that team owner Paul Miller - who owns nine Rolex 24 starts himself, including a GTO class victory in 1988 - believes will understand what's most important come race time.
“Running this race is not about ultimate speed,” Paul Miller says. “It's not about ultimate pace. It's about consistency and reliability and it's about keeping your nose clean. We don't have any 22-year-old guys with their hair on fire. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of experience. We have (24 Hours of) Le Mans experience, Daytona 24-hour experience, (12 Hours of) Sebring experience, and all that is going to add up to taking a very measured, calculated view of this race.
“I think that's what we all bring to the table here. What's making this successful is just the maturity that's involved at all levels, both from a crew point of view and from a driver lineup point of view. Nobody here has to prove anything. I really believe it's going to come down to whether we have some kind of fluky situation that takes us out. We think we have a great shot to be right up there.”
With the eyes of the motorsports world on Daytona next week, there will be a lot of talk about which drivers and teams should rate among the favorites to pull into Victory Lane at Daytona shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 30. And while there may be other racecars and other driver lineups that garner a lot of fanfare, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche and it's formidable foursome of drivers clearly belong in the conversation.
Next up for the team will be the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-30. The race takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 29, with 14 hours of live television coverage airing on SPEED beginning at 3 p.m. ET on January 29 and resuming at 9 a.m. ET on January 30.
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.