DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 18, 2002) -- The 41st anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is quickly gaining a NASCAR feel as two stock car racing veterans have committed to compete in the Feb. 1-2 twice-around-the-clock endurance challenge.
Kyle Petty, who drives the No. 45 Dodge in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for Petty Enterprises, will compete in the GT class in the Rolex 24 co-driving the No. 43 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 R with Leo Hindery, Peter Baron and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb.
Petty, whose lone win at Daytona came in an ARCA race in 1979, has made his two previous Rolex 24 starts in 2001 and 2002 with Orbit Racing. His best finish came in 2001 when he came home in fourth in the GT class.
"Obviously this is a team capable of winning the 24 Hours," Petty said. "They showed what they could do, at least as far as I was concerned, back at Watkins Glen when we won there in their Porsche two years ago. Leo Hindrey and those guys have a top car, and if our luck had been a little bit better at Daytona the past couple of years, well, we might have been right up there at the front when everything was said and done."
Winston Cup and Busch Series veteran Kevin Lepage is the only other NASCAR driver to have committed to the Rolex 24 at this time. Lepage will join the driver lineup of the No. 48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang with co-drivers Tommy Riggins, Dave Machavern and a fourth driver to be named later.
This will be Lepage's first Rolex 24 start.
"I love Daytona, and I can't wait to return to the facility," said Lepage, of Shelbourne, Vt. "Getting the chance to run the Rolex 24 with fellow Vermonter Dave Machavern will be the thrill of a lifetime. Dave has a top-notch team and knows how to win in the No. 48 Mustang. I've always liked road racing and this will give me a chance to start 2003 behind the wheel of a competitive race car."
The participation of NASCAR drivers in the Rolex 24 soared after the late Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. competed in the 2001 race.
In 2002, Petty, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Wally Dallenbach and Derrike Cope were the NASCAR veterans that participated in the Rolex 24.
Tickets for the 41st anniversary of the Rolex 24 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.