Three motorcycle legends tested together for the first time Monday at Daytona International Speedway, preparing for a probable run in the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ricky Carmichael, Scott Russell and Jason Pridmore are spending three days taking turns behind the wheel of the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote - and are enjoying every minute of the process.
"I'm pretty excited to come back," said Carmichael, a five-time winner of the Daytona Supercross By Honda. "Obviously, I'm not as nervous. There were some things I needed to improve on from the minimal laps I had last time (during Open House in September). I did a little bit better from last time, and I'm still trying to learn and get a good evaluation. It was much smoother today. When we apply a little more speed to it, we'll be ready to go."
Carmichael spent the season racing in the NASCAR Camping World East Series, and is preparing to run the next two years with Kevin Harvick Inc. in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
While Carmichael's only prior outing in Grand-Am was at Open House, Scott Russell has been a regular in the paddock throughout the season - helping with spotting while learning about four-wheel racing.
"I feel a lot more comfortable every time I come here and get in the car," said Russell, the first five-time winner of the Daytona 200 By Honda. "I've still got a lot to work on as far as lap times go, and getting smooth in the car. But it's coming around, and I'm enjoying it. I've improved a second and a half this time from the last test. I'm still quite a ways off, but that's a good sign if I can knock off a little more every time I get in."
Pridmore's lone test in a car was with Spirit of Daytona recently in Savannah, Ga. Monday's session was his first here in Nomex instead of leathers.
"This is so much different being on a bike around this place, and it's going to take a lot getting used to," said Pridmore, a two-time supersport 750 winner here. "The hardest thing for me is the idea of being strapped in and not being able to move around a lot. We've got a lot more freedom on the bike. Still, the lines and stuff aren't really that drastic. We're running the old Daytona course that we raced back in the day, and it felt like home again."
Joining the two-wheel legends at the test was Guy Cosmo, who was the Spirit of Daytona's regular driver in 2008.
"This is a real fun process," Cosmo said. "These guys are new to this kind of road racing, and they're new to racing on four wheels, but the interesting part to me is that they're champions, absolutely masters at their craft and what they do. So, their process of adapting to four wheels and this car and these tires is really impressive, because they're not rookies."