Daytona 24: Drivers prepare for endurance race

Drivers preparing for the "toughest endurance race in the world". DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 23, 2004) -- Less than a week remains before Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series teams converge on Daytona International Speedway to kick off ...

Drivers preparing for the "toughest endurance race in the world".

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 23, 2004) -- Less than a week remains before Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series teams converge on Daytona International Speedway to kick off SpeedWeeks 2004 with the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Drivers and teams are busy making final preparations to ready themselves for grueling the 24-hour race in hopes of bringing home one of the coveted Rolex Oyster Perpetual Daytona Cosmograph watches.

"This is the toughest endurance race in the world bar none," said Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Pruett. "To come here and win it as a driver or team, it's a phenomenal accomplishment. I always love it after the race when you win and the car looks like crap. It looks like it's been through a war. It's all sandblasted across the front. It's so sweet. You have to have a picture of that car. It's gone to battle and it won."

Although he has captured a class victory at the Rolex 24 in previous years, Pruett will be in search of his first overall victory when he pilots the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley.

"You've got to take Daytona by itself. The Rolex 24 is a survival of the fittest -- those guys who have done their homework and have a bit of luck and can take advantage of the opportunity to come here. They may not be the fastest, but certainly can run the longest," continued Pruett.

"I've been around Daytona for many years and the fastest car doesn't always win the race," said Doran-Lista driver Didier Theys. "You need to be smart. You need to stay out of trouble. The less time you spend in the pits... just for fuel and tires... if you can do that, it would be perfect. If you try to stop and fix the car for whatever reason, you're out of the picture."

Theys will aim for his third overall win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, partnering with Fredy Lienhard, Jan Lammers and Marc Goossens in the No. 27 Lexus Doran JE4 for the twice-around-the-clock race.

"I think you will see more prototypes stay together this year. There will be around 18 prototypes - some are brand new, some didn't run very much at test days, some are run by new teams. I can see, and hope to see, at least six or seven of them finish the race. And if they run without problems, they will be very close," remarked Theys.

"It should be a really good race. I think the field is fairly tightly packed, considering a lot of these teams were brand new out of the box at test days. Surely they'll come back with more experience and really under their belt as far as being competitive and being prepared," said Red Bull-Brumos Racing driver David Donohue. "It should prove to be a good race. It may be a typical Rolex 24 hour. Typically this race is just like all other long-distance endurance races in that you have to pace yourself. But this year it might be a 24-hour sprint. Whoever doesn't break, wins. Which should be interesting."

SunTrust Racing driver Wayne Taylor agrees with Donohue. "I think 24-hour races these days are sprint races. I think that the cars are evenly matched, and I think that everyone is going to go balls out basically," said Taylor, who will run his 24th 24-hour race at this year's event.

"The cars have gotten so good, the equipment has gotten so good, and the mechanics are all great. Things don't break down anymore. You can go out there and drive it at 110 percent every lap, which puts a lot more on the car, drivers and team," noted former-IRL racer Scott Goodyear, who will return to Brumos Racing for the Rolex 24. "There's no room for error; whether it's on the track or in the pit lane. That's the exciting thing about it right now. You know that if you perform at 110 percent, you are going to get a good result."

Rolex Series drivers and teams will hit the track at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, Jan. 29 for practice and first-round qualifying. The 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona will get underway on Saturday, Jan. 31, with the checkered flag falling on Sunday, Feb. 1. Tickets are currently available for the race online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at 386-253-RACE.

SPEED Channel will provide more than 15 hours of live coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

For more information on the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, visit www.grandamerican.com.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jan Lammers , Didier Theys , Scott Goodyear , Scott Pruett , Marc Goossens , Wayne Taylor , Fredy Lienhard , David Donohue
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing