DAYTONA BEACH, FL, JULY 5 — In one of the most exciting races of the 2002 Rolex Series season, Thetford / Norcold / Goodyear Dyson Racing teammates James Weaver and Chris Dyson claimed their third consecutive victory in the Jani-King Paul Revere 250 at Daytona.
The Anglo-American duo, who had started fourth in the evening race, took the lead early after Butch Leitzinger was forced to pit his #20 Dyson R&S prototype after being black flagged for allegedly jumping the start. Weaver maintained a steady lead and handed off to his junior teammate at one-third distance. Dyson passed Fredy Leinhard`s Doran-Lista Dallara on a restart and managed to hold off his mentor Elliott Forbes Robinson in the Crawford-Judd for several laps. Dyson maintained his lead throughout his stint, yielding it to Robinson Racing`s #74 R&S machine only when he pitted to give the controls back to Weaver.
The English star and defending series champion poured in a series off fast laps to accumulate a lead of almost 15 seconds before another full-course caution with ten laps to go evaporated Weaver`s lead and put the top four runners in close quarters. At the time of the restart, Leitzinger had taken over from team boss Rob Dyson, who had managed to run a strong stint and from third the Pennsylvanian began to track down second-placed Didier Theys in the Lista Dallara. Lap after lap, as Weaver edged away slightly, Leitzinger made valliant attempts to overtake Theys, and the Belgian points leader fought hard to maintain his position, running defensive lines down the back straight and keeping his advantage. It was truly dramatic stuff as Robinson`s machine caught the second and third place battle to make it a four-car shootout five laps from the end. At the end, Weaver took the win by a margin of slightly over 4 seconds over the runner-up Theys, and Leitzinger rounded out the podium.
The winning pairing was delighted with the result. After starting the weekend with little practice after an engine change, Weaver and Dyson had been working hard with Team Manager Pat Smith until the race`s start to work on a setup for the 3.5 mile road course oval layout. “This was a great result, especially considering how behind we were coming into the race,” Weaver said. “Generally we have always had a very good car here but this week we were a little off. Chris drove really well, and to win tonight was a great credit to the team.”
“It is terrific to win here,” Dyson said. “I like Daytona and there is a lot of great tradition here. My hat`s off to James tonight– he drove beautifully in a car that was not quite perfect. I would have loved it if we could have had my Dad and Butch finish second, for the championship`s sake, but you can`t be too greedy. Thanks to all the guys who did such a great job all week hustling away. We are enjoying this one.”