DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sunday, February 4, 2001) - Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, Franck Freon and Johnny O'Connell defied more powerful cars, inclement weather and mechanical gremlins to earn the overall victory in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sunday, February 4, 2001) - Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, Franck Freon and Johnny O'Connell defied more powerful cars, inclement weather and mechanical gremlins to earn the overall victory in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona aboard their GM Racing-sponsored Chevrolet Corvette.
With only three hours left to run in the 24-hour marathon, Dyson Racing's SportsRacing Prototype Ford-powered Riley & Scott seemed to have the win in hand, holding a 26-lap lead over the Corvette. But when Butch Leitzinger went off track with a blown engine in hour 22, it was just a matter of time before the Corvette would pass the Dyson car and accumulate a greater number of laps before the checkered flag was thrown.
Chevrolet's drama was not limited to the winning entry. Possibly the biggest news of the weekend was the participation of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. in a second Team Corvette co-driven by Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins. The #3 Chevrolet finished fourth overall and second in the GTS class behind the #2 Corvette, the White Lightning Porsche driven by Lucas Luhr, Mike Fitzgerald, Randy Pobst and Christian Menzel and the Freisinger Motorsports Porsche driven by Wolfgang Kaufman, Lance Stewart and Ciril Chateau. The White Lightning and Freisinger Porsches were also first and second in the GT class, giving the class it's best-ever overall finish in the famous Daytona endurance race.
But for all the joy felt by the Chevrolet team, there was an equal amount of pain in the Dyson Racing garage. Team owner Rob Dyson fielded a two-car team in the Rolex Series premier SportsRacing Prototype (SRP) class and saw a Rolex 24 victory evaporate in the late stages of the race for the second year in a row. Dropping out with engine failure in hour 22, Dyson's #16 car was eventually credited with a 14th-place finish overall and second in class. The second Dyson car, which had its hopes vanquished with a broken drive train early in the morning on Sunday, finished 19th overall and third in the SRP class.
The eventual SRP winner was Downing Atlanta and its Mazda Kudza driven by Howard Katz, Jim Downing, A.J. Smith and Chris Ronson. The #63 Downing entry was 11th overall, 32 laps behind the winning Corvette.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series has two other racing classes. Archangel Motorsports earned the win in the SRPII class with Andy Lally, Paul Macey, Peter Seldon and Martin Henderson driving the team's Nissan Lola. Winners in the American GT (AGT) class were Kenny Bupp, Doug Mills, Dick Greer and Simon Gregg on the Hamilton Safe Motorsports Camaro.
The next event on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series schedule is set for the weekend of March 2-4 with the Grand-Am races set for Friday and Saturday.