Scott Tucker, A Year In Review: The Rolex 24 At Daytona
Topics: Scott Tucker, Rolex 24 at Daytona
Scott Tucker and his Level 5 Motorsports teammates recently began the final quarter of a racing year that has included numerous podium appearances, multiple car changes, incredible accomplishments and yet still room for improvement. Tucker, owner and driver for Level 5, has been a leader for the team despite the rookie status he maintained merely months ago. His tight, balanced driving has earned him top honors in the American Le Mans Series as Rookie of the Year and Champion Driver in 2010. His races often end with stints on the podium, and his career has only just begun.
As Tucker, his co-drivers Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz and team manager David Stone prepare to close the calendar year with the all-important Petit Le Mans and the Ferrari International Finals, the stakes are high—the team has woven itself a reputation of excellence that is best understood by looking back at what has made 2011 a stunning year for Level 5 Motorsports.
Coming off exciting test finishes at the Roar before the 24, Scott Tucker-owned Level 5 Motorsports had one thing in mind: Make Daytona count. One of the biggest races of the year, the Daytona 24 also happened to be the first on Level 5's schedule, and the team wasted no time getting in a winning mindset.
"We brought the dogs to the hunt," said team manager David Stone. "Hopefully they'll do a great job; it'd be huge for this team to come off the start of the year with a huge win at a race like Daytona."
The Microsoft Office-sponsored Level 5 entered its No. 95 and No. 55 in the race, which began at 3:30 in the afternoon, running through the night and into the next day. Temperature variation and daylight are additional factors a team must consider beyond the usual race checklist at a 24-hour stint.
To get an idea of the winning mindset of Level 5 Motorsports, consider this: Tucker and his team declined to qualify the two cars in the race, accepting the dead-last start position over spending pre-race time in a qualifier. Said a mechanic: "Qualifying for a 24-hour race is completely meaningless. Anything that's not directly related to winning this race, we're going to opt out of."
Early in the race, Tucker's No. 95 got caught in a stack-up near the end of the pack, forcing it to head to pit. Cornered in with no exit available, the bump couldn't be avoided—a frustrating turn of events for the Level 5 team. Tucker got back on the track in enough time to make up some for the loss before passing the wheel to his teammates.
Christophe Bouchut maneuvered the Level 5 car to the front of the pack and held there for several laps. "Things were running very well, and lap after lap was great," Bouchut said. Bouchut is one of the most successful endurance drivers and a past winner of the Daytona 24. He's been with the Level 5 team since its 2008 season and earned his 100th career victory last year.
Before Luis Diaz took over just after the sun went down, he told commentators he was looking forward to the lap. The first driver of the team to enjoy the lower temperatures , Luis entered the track after a great pit stop. The race was his debut with Level 5 Motorsports. Previously, he had been voted "Most Popular Driver" in 2009. "Scott Tucker really puts together a great driver lineup," said a commentator. Not only is the roster stacked with talent and skill, but the driver order maximizes the Level 5 team's achievement, with consistency throughout.
Although Tucker's entire team delivered impressive performances, it wasn't quite enough to get Level 5 on the podium. The Madison, Wisc.-based team finished 8th overall. "This team has really grown," said a commenter. "[The finish] doesn't show any lack of determination, mechanical ability or driving ability. It's just a tough race to win, and we're looking forward to a great season."
After wrapping up the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Level 5 Motorsports team looked ahead to a race half its time, the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Brent Arends has been keeping a close eye on Scott Tucker, owner and driver, of Level 5 Motorsports throughout the past year. To get more information about Tucker, check out http://www.motorsport.com/#/all/search/?q=scott%252520tucker
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