HOMESTEAD-MIAMI, FL, MAR. 2 — Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing`s James Weaver gave the Crawford Race Cars crew something to smile about when he took the lead of today`s Nextel 250. All weekend, in the Dyson team`s first outing with the Judd V10-powered Crawford, Weaver had been at or near the top of the time sheets. The car was improving with each session, Weaver reported, and he was confident for the race. Starting fifth after Friday`s Qualifying was cancelled due to a tragic accident which claimed Jeff Clinton`s life, the team figured it would only be a matter of time before the Englishman would be battling with ertwhile rival Mauro Baldi`s Dallara-Judd.
The decisive moment arrived on the thirty-third tour of the 2.4 mile combination oval / road course. Weaver had been forced to pit on lap 20 after contact with a slower car, but he had remained on the lead lap and had the Dallara in his sights. In his typical dogged fashion, Weaver grabbed the lead when Baldi fell off the road and in a scorching sequence of laps, gradually began to extend a gap to the Italian. During this battle, Weaver set the race`s fastest lap, a 1:10.791– a tenth quicker than Baldi.
In the pit lane, Max Crawford and the crew were busily monitoring the Judd engine`s temperatures on the telemetry screen. The temperatures were gradually increasing and the team believed that the earlier contact had damaged the radiator. Weaver`s teammate Chris Dyson was awaiting the call for a driver change. Just then the team received the report from Weaver that the car had spun into a gravel trap. The left-rear had given way under braking and Weaver had managed to keep it off the wall.
Weaver managed to make it back to the pit lane– now several laps down to the leader– but the team discovered that the radiator had sustained a puncture in the gravel trap. Rather than parking the car right there, the team decided to send Dyson out for two tours, to accumulate some championship points. The team`s race was over with more than an hour remaining.
Despite the result, Weaver was upbeat. “It is a shame about that 911 contact, we had a really good car today. Max has done a great job, and his boys were fabulous all weekend. I think the car has a lot of potential.”
Chris Dyson was equally optimistic: “The car is a really nice package and it was impressive to run so well in our first run with it. The Judd`s got a lot of power, it is only too bad I did not get to race it much! At least we were able to get some points today and I think James showed while battling for the lead that there is more left in this car.”
The Anglo-American duo were the only Dyson Racing representatives at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. Max Crawford and his crew prepared the car and did a phenomenal job. The rest of the Dyson team have been busily preparing the team`s venerable R&S Fords for the Sebring 12 Hours. Practice for the endurance classic begins in a week`s time.