Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Making the switch from the Texas Rangers to the Los Angeles Angels isn't the only big change left-hander C.J. Wilson has gone through this offseason. Wilson has also stepped up his efforts with his race team C.J. Wilson Racing. The team will make its debut in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series this weekend at one of racing's most hallowed tracks Daytona International Speedway. And like the southern Californian that he is, Wilson is stoked about the racing season as his team will compete full time with two cars in the series that may be best known for featuring actor Patrick Dempsey as a regular. "I'm excited for us because this is our next step," said Wilson, who was training in Texas this week before heading to Daytona Wednesday night. "This is our first race as a Grand-Am team. This allows us to expand a little bit. We've got two trucks and seven race cars and nine drivers. It's really kind of cool. I feel like being able to put together a team any way I want to, putting our spin on it, makes it unique." All you have to do this weekend to know that Wilson's two-car team is different from the other 60 or so cars competing is look at the sponsors on the side of either of the Mazda's. While there will be traditional racing tie ins, Wilsons' cars will also have logos for both Phiten and New Balance, products Wilson will wear this year for the Angels. It's not by accident and it's something that makes Wilson's team unique. "Our big thing is trying to find a way to bring over that crossover appeal," said Wilson, who will return to California Saturday to begin training. "I get more sponsorship opportunities because of baseball. Racing runs through my veins the same way baseball does. It's just my commitment is to the Angels. Wilson won't be doing any racing of his own; his new five year, 77.5-million contract won't allow it. But Wilson does take plenty of satisfaction in the team he's built. In addition to the two teams he'll be running in the Continental Tires Series, Wilson's team will also have five cars running in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Series. He's hoping that series will serve as a feeder for the Continental Tire Series. Eventually the team would like to move up to the Daytona Prototype Series and Wilson said the ultimate goal would be running in 24 Hours of Le Mans. It's a big dream, but Wilson has been living a dream recently. After starting his career with Texas, Wilson was able to use two standout seasons with the Rangers to get the deal with the Angels and get back home to California. Wilson said it's a misconception that he's dropping money from his new contract into the team. For one, other than a signing bonus, he hasn't been paid by the Angels yet. That doesn't mean Wilson isn't involved in the Austin, Texas-based team even when he's in California. "He's been hands on," said Wilson's racing partner Jason Saini, who will drive one of the cars in Daytona. "He's really focused, as he would be in any situation. He's focused on training and prepping for his season. He's coming to Daytona. I've traveled to L.A. a few times. We spent a lot of time doing strategic planning. He's focused on this opportunity and prepared for the next." One of the drivers Wilson will have going for him this year has a familiar name. Chad McCumbee, who got his career started in NASCAR and may be best known for portraying Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a movie, will also drive for Wilson. While Wilson knows the competition will be stiff in the new endeavor, he has high expectations. The season didn't get off to a roaring start as the team's primary car crashed in testing two weeks ago. They will use a backup for Saturday's BMW Performance at Daytona 200. "We don't how effective we're going to be at each track," Wilson said. "But we've got cars that are going to handle great. But our goals are long term. We don't want to be at the back of the pack. We want to be a strong team, just like in baseball. But you have to temper that with reality. Just because we have a good feeling doesn't mean things will work out for us like we want. But we're ready to go racing."
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