DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — RDSR photo —
Despite losing one of their star members during a high-profile offseason team shuffle, Real Deal Sim Racing proved they are still very much the “real deal” on the race track during Monday night’s =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series (FTCS) open practice at Daytona International Speedway.
Teammates Garrett Atwell and Mark Bratcher ended up on top of the time sheets when the two-hour session concluded, with Atwell leading all comers after he posted a blistering time of 44.445 seconds (202.497 mph) on his 30th of 42 laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
The effort for Atwell comes after leaving Roo Motorsports, the team he drove for in 2014, and joining RDSR just a month prior to the start of the season.
“It’s incredibly confidence boosting,” Atwell said when asked what this kind of performance did for his hopes entering Daytona. “Mark and RDSR really basically started over from scratch this year, and being able to come in with these guys and start fresh with some new scenery is really cool.”
Atwell also says he expects the team that finished second in last year’s FTCS team points to make a serious run at the Chase for the Full Throttle Cup as well.
“I think myself, Mark, Bryce (Whitson Jr.) and Nick (Kohan) are in good shape to make the chase,” the New Mexico native added. “I expect this No. 19 team and RDSR in general to be challenging for the championship.”
RDSR team owner Bratcher landed second on the board with a lap of 44.465 seconds (202.406 mph), and says he’s thrilled with the showing by the team after its final two members (Whitson and Kohan) joined the team in the final weeks leading up to the open session Monday night.
“RDSR was hard at work — bringing this team together last minute — and we originally had hopes of adding a powerhouse as our fourth team member,” Bratcher said. “However, what I think we proved to everyone is that this roster is plenty capable of contending at the front of the field, and we’re ready for that to begin in two weeks at Daytona.”
Kohan ended up 21st on the board (44.802 / 200.884) after being unable to get a clean lap in the draft, and Whitson was unable to attend the open practice due to a stomach virus.
Former RDSR pilot Rett McBride, who moved over to the Wolfpack for 2015 in the biggest =RSR= shakeup of the offseason, slotted in third overall with a lap of 44.478 seconds (202.347), followed by his new teammate and team owner C.J. LaVair in fourth (44.488 / 202.302). Both drivers made the Chase for the Full Throttle Cup in 2014.
Ralph Nolen Jr. rounded out the top five on the speed charts (44.583 / 201.871).
Notables outside the top five included defending series champion Eric Brundies (8th, 201.491), 2013 FTCS titlist Chad Cole (10th, 201.428), four-time series winner last year Adam Benefiel (13th, 201.396) and 2014 Championship Round participant Thomas George (23rd, 200.602).
Also surprisingly down the list were the Steel Horse Racing entries, with only the No. 11 Toyota of Johnathon Caddell cracking the top ten in ninth (201.464).
In all, 28 of the 31 cars who posted a lap in the practice session topped 200 miles per hour.
The =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series will set the field for the season-opening Daytona 250 with the running of the Full Throttle Duels from Daytona International Speedway on Monday, Feb. 16, followed by the running of the non-points Full Throttle Shootout.
For more information on Real Sim Racing, visit www.realsimracing.com.