DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 18, 2001) - Crawford Race Cars, a division of Crawford Composites, today announced that NASCAR Winston Cup Series standout Tony Stewart will join road racing veterans Jan Lammers and Johnny Mowlem as drivers of the 2002 Crawford SSC2K Grand American Road Racing Series Prototype during the 40th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 1-3.
The V-10, Judd-powered Crawford SSC2K Prototype, built by long-time sports car builder Max Crawford, will make its inaugural factory based effort in the twice around the clock endurance classic.
"We're quietly confident about our chances," said Crawford, from his Denver, N.C. shop. "We have three very talented drivers in the fold and we have a strong endurance program to go with it. Each of our drivers brings a different level of experience to the table, and will feed off each other as the race progresses."
Stewart talked about the race.
"I am excited about the opportunity to run a true road course race, especially with it being one of the biggest races of the year at Daytona," said Stewart, who won his first road race in Winston Cup Series competition during the 2001 Save Mart 350 at Sears Point Raceway at Sonoma, Calif. "I am also excited about teaming up with Jan Lammers and Johnny Mowlem knowing that their past experience in this type of racing will help my learning curve. I'm looking forward to a great race."
Lammers, who will be heading the Crawford lineup, has enjoyed success at Daytona before, leading a trio of drivers to overall victory in 1990. The 45-year-old driver, along with European sports car heroes Andy Wallace and Johnny Dumfries, also won the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans in 1988.
"I am really looking forward to being a part of the Crawford program," Lammers said. "Apart from being in impressive company, they are very pleasant, down-to-earth people, whom want to get the best out of their organization.
"Tony Stewart has a great record in motor racing and has proven that he is quick and can bring a car home to the finish line," Lammers added. "And it all starts at the finish line. I am very proud to be driving with Tony. We have to give him some time to adjust to this new type of racing. He will do the job, though.
"In addition, Johnny Mowlem has a great future ahead of him," Lammers continued. "And will no doubt make the best of the opportunity that has been given to him by Max and Jan Crawford."
Mowlem, a current resident of the United Kingdom, was one of only six factory backed- Porsche drivers last season. Mowlem broke the GTS lap record during 2001 LeMans pre-qualifying and led his class during part of the race prior to mechanical failure. In 1997, Mowlem became the first and only driver to ever sweep all 17 rounds of the British Pirelli Porsche Cup Championship, while amassing 15 poles along the way.
"I will be sharing the Crawford Prototype with two enormously talented and experienced drivers in Jan Lammers and Tony Stewart and I know I will learn a lot from both of them," Mowlem said. "I'm glad that Max and Jan have given me this opportunity to prove myself at the highest level. They have shown enormous faith in me and I intend to repay them by doing the best job I possibly can to help Crawford achieve success at such a prestigious race. And if we're still there in the end, we stand a great chance of winning."
Much of Stewart's success has been on ovals. The 30-year-old secured the 1997 Indy Racing League Championship and captured the sprint car hat trick in 1995 when he grabbed titles in the USAC National Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown divisions. Prior to an 11th place start at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last August, Stewart had not qualified outside the top six in any of his five road course starts in Winston Cup Series competition.
Other current NASCAR drivers that have competed in the Rolex 24 include the late Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Petty, Mark Martin, Bill Elliot and John Andretti.