Daytona Beach, Fla. (5 January 2019) – Up and coming young driver Ben Waddell made his first start at the famed Daytona International Speedway today, as the 2019 sports car racing season took the green flag with an action-packed Scouts of America Race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge series.
The three-hour, 93-lap season opener featured hard racing and several full course caution periods that challenged the 19-car field. The 23-year-old Waddell started the race in eighth position with co-driver Wyatt Schwab in the No. 74 Forty7 Motorsports Stoner Car Care Norma LMP3 entry, and the pair battled through adversity to take a 13th place finish.
Qualifying the car in a rain-shortened session Friday evening, Waddell settled into the early going as cars jostled for position in the opening laps. Through the first hour that included two full course caution periods, the Denver native battled for position with teammate Nikko Reger as the pair tried to make their way forward.
Waddell took the lead for two laps as drivers began to head to pit road for fuel and driver changes before discovering that radio issues negated communication with the pit box. Waiting for the fuel warning light to come on, he headed in for his own service and the change to Schwab with 1:45 remaining in the race. A problem with the fuel probe that required a push-back to a teammate’s pit meant a drive-through penalty that left the team in 15th position. Schwab fought his way forward through the remainder of the race, running as high as fourth midway before settling for 13th.
Waddell was pleased with the team’s performance overall, especially given the fact that he had driven only five laps on the iconic road course ahead of today’s green flag.
“It was my first time starting so all in all, I’m happy with my stint,” said Waddell. “Nikko and I had a good battle, trying to work as a team to try and get to the lead group of five cars. With only five laps here before the race, I’m pleased that I was able to get my lap times down and run close to the leaders.
“I heard “green green green” at the start and that was it on the radio. I just went until the fuel light came on, but I ended up having to go to fuel saving mode which hurt us on our in lap. My teammate also had some pit issues but overall, I’m happy with how things went. I have to take a step back and realize that a lot of these drivers have so much more experience than I do so the way I approached it, not putting a tire off all weekend, running in the top five and the top 10, I was happy with my performance. I had good speed in the end and had consistent times, and I can say I’ve been to Daytona now so hopefully I’ll be up front next year.”