Grand-Am Rolex Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona
Topics: Rolex 24 at Daytona
January 25, 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
J.J. O'MALLEY: Now we'll meet our GT podium finishers.
GT winners, the No. 67 TRG Porsche, 997. R.J. Valentine, you had the honors of taking it home. What are your thoughts?
R.J. VALENTINE: For me, this is my 23rd race, racing over 30 years. To win your Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is a thrill beyond imagination for me.
Having participated with some of the greatest drivers in the world is also a thrill for me. I don't mind telling you I'm 64 years old. I've been in this a long time. What happened for me today is a thrill beyond comprehension.
There's not much more I can say. I'm still in shock. I still can't believe I was involved with a team that won it. And TRG and Deborah and Kevin and Porsche Motorsports did a tremendous job with our car.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Jorg Bergmeister, you won in Porsche's overall victory for TRG 2003. Also won your class here with TRG in 2002, and I believe you won a Brumos Porsche 250. Give us your thoughts on today's victory, how does that compare to them.
JORG BERGMEISTER: It's been a while since 2003. Back again with TRG, winning again is just awesome. Kevin put together a great program. Great driver lineup. And I'm just excited to have another watch.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Patrick Long, your thoughts on the victory?
PATRICK LONG: Stellar. Just has been an unbelievable month. Being here with Jorg, a teammate for a long time. Kevin gave me my first run here at the Rolex back in 2004.
I said it time and time again, I thought this was the one race that would elude me for my whole career. Having some early success with thanks to Porsche and many other big endurance races, this Rolex has slipped away from me a few times. Personally this is really sweet. But just a really congrats and well done to the whole team. Thanks to Kevin and TRG.
J.J. O'MALLEY: You've met the co-drivers of the event. Now the two men hoping to carry the 67 car to the championship.
Justin Marks, you've been away from sports cars running in the Camping World Truck Series for the past couple years. Your thoughts getting back into sports cars.
JUSTIN MARKS: It's a great way to get back into sports car racing. I knew coming into it we would have a real legitimate shot at this. So much talent on the team and in the TRG organization.
So it was just really excited to get the thing kicked off with this race and knew we were going to have a good run. And I've been lucky enough to win the summer sports car race here twice, the 250 twice. But this is just on a scale that's so far beyond that it's just awesome. To be able to do it in, do it for Kevin and do it with the team that I made my 24 hours debut with in 2001 is pretty special, too, because I spent the next couple years racing for BMW. To come back to Porsche TRG, winning the thing, it's awesome, great momentum for the season and for Andy.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Andy Lally, won this race before, SRP 2 class with Archangel, young gun a few years ago. Your thoughts on being like the team leader in today's victory.
ANDY LALLY: I don't look at myself as team leader. I'm fortunate to be part of TRG five years and be a small part of an awesome program and it's an honor.
This is -- Daytona for me is the pinnacle of the endurance racing. A lot of people look at Leman, but this place holds a special spot in my heart. And the 24 is the moment and the day that I think of when I'm looking for energy and inspiration during my workouts and how to keep going, and this is what I want and this is the drive. And to be able to win here at Daytona anytime, whether it's the summer race but especially this race, the Daytona 24, is the most amazing thing.
J.J. O'MALLEY: I know Kevin Buckler has told me this several times, when he needs inspiration, he looks at the picture of his 2003 overall victory as both car owner and driver.
Kevin Buckler, your thoughts coming in with a 1-2 finish after the victory's eluded you since the 2003 event.
KEVIN BUCKLER: Yeah. Wow, it's been a lot of work the last four months putting together this team of guys. I got a whole group with the five cars out there. I was driving with my friends, and that made it all worthwhile. We've been working on this for months.
I've got people up here that are my close friends and that I've shared some of my most special moments with. And to be able to be a part of the delivery of a victory for these guys. And it's just so satisfying.
Daytona is a special place for us. We've always had some of our best memories here. And I'm really proud. There's a big part of the organization. Let me give a little call-out to Eric over there with the black sweater on. We have some guys in our office. Our team is awesome. The chemistry is a big part of our success.
He and I tried to race each other into the office each morning. Six, 5:45, try to beat each other in because we want to be there. This is a hard core team of people that work with us that make it happen. None of the other teams have that. I'm really proud of that. That's cool.
Q. This question is for Jorg and Andy. The car, once you climbed into the top five or six, you ran well all night. You never fell back. With all due respect to R.J., how tough was it to hand back over the car with the waning laps, nothing is for sure?
ANDY LALLY: Nothing is for sure. But R.J. and I have won seven Rolex races together and have been running together for a bunch of years. I know he's a top-notch driver, and it wasn't even a thing. It was just giving him the honor since it's been so long that he's been trying to get this. It was a no-brainer. Pull in, give him the time and the car and let him enjoy the satisfaction of crossing the finish line at Daytona a winner.
Q. It's my understanding that there's -- Rolex awards four watches. There's five of you guys. How does that work?
ANDY LALLY: Three, four, five, however many drivers are in the car. They have 30 watches out there.
Q. You all are going to get them?
ANDY LALLY: We all got them already.
Q. Kevin, you guys were locked in a big battle for the lead for most of the races, a three-way battle for most of the time, between two of your cars and the 86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche. When that car dropped out, it appeared you guys were cruising for the victory. Were there any team orders or any kind of certain strategy after that car dropped out?
KEVIN BUCKLER: Actually, there were. I heard a couple of comments on Speed. I had the TV volume turned up, comparing it to Formula One conspiracy theories, and all sorts of stuff. That was actually cute. Around 6:00 a.m. we all got together, the crew chiefs and a few of the guys, we made a little pact.
It was a three-horse race at that point. And, I mean, the obvious decision was if the 86 broke, at that point in time, whatever order we were in, we were going to freeze it. And at that point in time 66 was actually in the lead. And just so happened that when the car broke, we made the deal, and 67 ended up in the lead when the car broke.
It was the right thing to do. We have cars that we've been beating the crap out of them for 24 hours. And racing each other, and having both of them break and have someone else cruise to a victory was just silly. It's hard, though. It's a tough decision. Someone's not going to be happy. But it was fair and it was right and sometimes you just gotta do that. That's what happened.
Either one of those cars could have won. It's funny, because a couple of these guys, they were 3rd last year and 2nd this year. May have to come back next year. Same thing. A bunch of buddies on that team. It's great.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Thank you.
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