Daytona 24: Graham Rahal preview

Rahal Tackles Rolex 24 This Weekend at Daytona NEW ALBANY, Ohio, Jan. 24 - Last July at the age of 16 Graham Rahal became the youngest driver ever to win a pro Star Mazda race. A few months later the New Albany, Ohio teen also became the...

Rahal Tackles Rolex 24 This Weekend at Daytona

NEW ALBANY, Ohio, Jan. 24 - Last July at the age of 16 Graham Rahal became the youngest driver ever to win a pro Star Mazda race. A few months later the New Albany, Ohio teen also became the youngest driver ever to win a SCCA national championship at the Runoffs.

Only four days into the new year Rahal turned 17. Before the month - and the weekend - is over he has a one in 39 chance of becoming one of the youngest drivers ever, if not the youngest, to win the GT class at the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Rahal took his first laps at Daytona during testing there earlier this month. This weekend he's slated to join veterans Wolf Henzler, Robin Liddell and Johannes van Overbeek behind the wheel of the Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup No. 72 in the 44th annual twice-around-the-clock classic on the facility's 3.56-mile road course. The team is sponsored by NEC and Rembrandt Charms.

Another one of the team's Porsches and the one Rahal drove in testing, the No. 74, set the fastest time among the GT cars that participated in the test, so the teen has a good car, good co-drivers and a good team.

This will be the longest race of Rahal's career to date, his first race at night, and his first race at Daytona, but he's proven that he's a fast learner. Now what he needs most is luck in order to bring home a Rolex 24 victory similar to the one his father posted in 1981 in another Porsche.

Two of Rahal Letterman Racing's three Indy Racing League IndyCar drivers are also entered in the race, although they're competing in the Daytona Prototype class. Buddy Rice will be in the Finlay Motorsports Crawford Ford No. 28 with Rob Finlay, Michael Valiante and Bryan Herta, while Danica Patrick will share the Howard-Boss Motorsports Crawford Pontiac No. 2 with Rusty Wallace, Allan McNish and Jan Lammers.

In addition to the 39 GT cars in Rahal's class there are 31 Daytona Prototypes entered for a field of 70.

The enduro will start at noon on Saturday and conclude at noon on Sunday. S PEED will provide live coverage from noon until 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday, and from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Live timing and scoring is also slated for grandamerican.com.

This is the only Rolex series race currently on Rahal's schedule. He will compete full-time in the Champ Car Atlantic championship in 2006 in a Gehl-sponsored car fielded by Mi-Jack Conquest Racing.

For more information, please see grahamrahal.com.

-linda mansfield-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jan Lammers , Rusty Wallace , Bryan Herta , Graham Rahal , Robin Liddell , Michael Valiante , Buddy Rice , Johannes van Overbeek , Wolf Henzler , Rob Finlay , Danica Patrick
Teams Conquest Racing