Billy Johnson Grand-Am Blog: 2011 Daytona Race Preview

You would think the off-season is a relaxing low-pressure time in racing.  In fact it’s quite the opposite.  While the holidays are suppose to be a time of joy and relaxation, in motorsports it’s often a very busy and stressful time for everyone.  The uncertainties of the coming year, what the plan is for the next year, will I still even have a ride or a job? How will my role change? How to finish building a new car in time or further develop your current car?  The holidays for the racing industry aren’t always ‘happy’.

 


Good news is that we do have a game plan for 2011.  Jack Roush Jr. and I will again drive the No.61 but will debut our brand new 2011 Ford Racing BOSS 302R Mustang with our eyes set on the 2011 Championship.  But we have had quite a busy off-season with three tests, building and developing the new car, and preparing our old FR500C for two new drivers joining us for Daytona.

 





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Let me say, the BOSS 302R is quite a car.  While the chassis itself is very similar to our old FR500C, the body lines are (in my eyes) a nice improvement but what really stands out is the engine.  The new 5.0 just screams to its 7,700rpm redline and is quite an improvement over our series-required bored-out ‘cammer’ motor which also had a 5.0L displacement.  The adjustable cam gears, revised heads, stout internals, and brand new from the ground up bottom end was a big improvement for Ford and the trickle-down makes for an even better race car for us. 

 

Our old FR500C’s motor had to 201101_braintrustbe bored out to be competitive with the likes of BMW M3s, 6.2L camaros, Turbocharged Subaru STIs, and Porsches.  But the new BOSS 5.0 is basically off the showroom floor and ready to take down the competition.  I really think it’s great how Ford is improving the Mustang and delivering such a great bang for the buck to the consumer.  It’s also awesome to see magazines comparing even the base 5.0 “GT” to the BMW M3, a comparison which most people previously would never have considered.  What is truly impressive is the fact that the Mustang is right up there in terms of lap time with the M3 stock-for-stock  on many different racetracks.  It really is a great time to drive a Ford.

 

Now with our BOSS 302R ready to go, our old FR500C that Jack and I drove for the last two years will be brought out of retirement to run in the season-opener at Daytona as the No.51 with drivers Roly Falgueras and new talent Shelby Blackstock.

 

Roly has raced in the Grand-Am GS 201101_shelbyclass a couple years back before racing GT cars in South America.  He has also competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona in ’89.  Shelby is an up and coming hot shoe who has been impressive in the Skip Barber series as well as in similar Mustang Challenge FR500S cars.  He also drove in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with me last December and has shown speed and ability beyond his years.  As his first Professional race, and his debut Grand-Am GS race at Daytona later this month, Shelby will surely be someone to keep an eye on.

 

With 4 solid drivers in 2 fast cars with 1 iconic team, the Red Mustangs from the ROUSH Racing powerhouse should be in a strong position for 2011 and the season opener at Daytona on January 28th.  Jack and I will continue in the No.61 for the whole season and look to better our previous year’s already stellar results.  Be sure to catch the race which will be aired on SPEED Channel the following weekend, and stay tuned for future updates and blogs by myself and Jack.

 

-Billy Johnson

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