Crown Royal Squad Ready for Night Challenges at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 3rd, 2005) – The Crown Royal Ford “Team of Champions” has begun its preparations for America’s ultimate motorsport torture test of man and machine after qualifying 16th for the Rolex 24 at Daytona today.

Scott Maxwell stopped the clocks at 1 minute, 49.458 seconds in the Crown Royal machine he will share with NEXTEL Cup stars Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

The Canadian sports car star was unlucky as the qualifying session was halted just as he was about to begin his first quick lap of the 3.56 mile circuit. While Maxwell was able to improve when the session recommenced, the Multimatic team believe having to bring the tires up to temperature for a second time cost the #49 car 6 to 7/10ths of a second.

The team spent tonight’s evening practice allowing Kenseth and Biffle to get accustomed to running at night under headlights for the first time. While both have considerable experience with night racing, neither has ever raced with headlights.

The fourth member of the Crown Royal “Team of Champions”, Kurt Busch, will get his first chance this weekend to drive the Multimatic Ford tomorrow morning.

Pole position today was earned by the Lexus Riley of reigning Rolex Series champion Scott Pruett.

“We were very unlucky because a lot of guys put their fast laps in early before they had to stop the session,” said Multimatic Vice President and Technical Director, Larry Holt.

“Scott was just about to start his run when the flag came out and the tires tend to be a little slower once they have been through one heat cycle, then have to come up to temperature again.

“That probably cost us 6 or 7/10ths of a second which would have put us a couple of spots. However, it really doesn’t matter so much for a 24 hour race. We have a very drivable car which we could make faster with higher spring rates, but Matt and Greg agreed the Crown Royal car was significantly more comfortable to drive than it was on the test day.

“We also made a change just before qualifying and Scott said it made it better than it has been all year, so I think we have a good car for the 24 hours.”

The team will have two final 45-minute practice sessions tomorrow before the start of the race at 12.00 noon on Saturday.


Scott Maxwell

“The Crown Royal car is certainly the best it has been, but I think we still have some room for some progress and improvement before the start of the race. We are doing a planned engine change overnight which will help and we will also trim out some of the downforce to help us in a straight line. The car is certainly the best it has been and Greg and Matt did really well today. They drove the car before we made a few changes for qualifying and it is certainly a lot better to drive now. They were dealing with a lot of oversteer when they were in the car and we have now made significant progress.”

Greg Biffle

“The car was much better today – I’m not sure whether the car itself was better or the driver was better, but I certainly felt a lot more comfortable in the Crown Royal car than I did at the test. When I drove the car in testing we had the traction control turned on, but today I tried it without it and it was good to feel the difference in how the car behaves. I feel really good about the car and am looking forward to running at night. We run a lot of night races in NEXTEL Cup but this will be a lot different. The biggest thing I am worried about is getting used to having headlights in my mirrors – not knowing who those cars are is the biggest thing I am nervous about.”

Matt Kenseth

“The car was certainly better today overall. We found some speed through the infield and compared to the test we were faster in some areas of the track but not as good in others. I felt the last time I was in the car I was really comfortable and my times were basically the same as Scott who has lots of experience in this thing. I now feel my speed is about as fast as the car will go. If we can get the car quicker, then I can push a little harder, but I think we are in good shape for the race. For the 24 hours my NEXTEL Cup boss Jack Roush said you basically don’t race – you just pace yourself, don’t get caught in a battle and keep the car out of trouble. That is the secret to success in this show.”