The pre-race test for February's Rolex 24 At Daytona was held at Daytona International Speedway from Thursday, January 4 through Saturday, January 6 with a dramatic increase in cars on hand for the second season of the Grand American Road Racing...
The pre-race test for February's Rolex 24 At Daytona was held at Daytona International Speedway from Thursday, January 4 through Saturday, January 6 with a dramatic increase in cars on hand for the second season of the Grand American Road Racing Championship.
A total of 90 Grand-Am and Motorola Cup cars showed up for this year's test session, compared to a field of 57 last year. With 65 cars on the track, the Grand-Am classes included 13 Sports Racing Prototypes (SRP), 10 Sports Racing Prototypes II (SRPII), 11 cars in GTS, 23 GT cars and 8 cars in the American GT class.
The qualifying times from last year's Rolex 24 At Daytona were beaten in two classes during this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona Testing Days. In the SRP class, Intersport Racing's #37 Judd Lola recorded a Thursday morning lap time of 1:40.494, .508 seconds faster than last year's pole winner James Weaver. Jon Field was the only driver listed for the #37 Lola. Field's time is 1.299 seconds away from the track record of 1:39.195, set by Can-Am Cars' Ferrari 333SP at the 1998 Rolex 24 qualifying. Weaver's Dyson Racing's #16 Ford Riley & Scott was the second-quickest car at the tests, recording a time of 1:41.210 on Saturday. Dyson's #16 Riley & Scott is set to be driven by Weaver, Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger.
Riley & Scott cars also held down the third and fourth fastest spots with Robinson Racing's #74 Judd-powered car third at 1:41.874 and Dyson's #20 Ford-powered machine fourth at 1:42.024. The Champion Racing #38 Porsche Lola had a fastest lap of 1:42.322 on Thursday. The new #27 Judd Crawford of Lista Doran Racing posted a 1:45.644 as its best effort on Friday.
Last year's American GT pole-winning time was broken by two cars this weekend. Team Amick Motorsports' Corvette clocked a 1:50.892 lap time, shaving 3.183 seconds off last year's pole winning time of 1:54.075. The #44 Corvette was piloted by David Amick, Joe Varde and Lyndon Amick, and set the fastest American GT time during Thursday morning's testing session.
Flis Motorsports' #09 Camaro recorded a 1:52.050 lap, 2.025 seconds faster than Craig Conway's 2000 pole-winning time. Daytona-residents Conway and Troy Flis were joined behind the #09 wheel by Michigan's Doug Goad.
The SRPII class was led by TRP Racing's #6 Nissan Lola with a lap time of 1:47.149, while Bytzek Motorsports' #0 Porsche GT1 took the best time of 1:47.220 in the GTS class. The GT class was led by White Lightning's #31 Porsche GT3R with a 1:54.197 lap time.
Making their Grand-Am debut, NASCAR's father-son duo of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. teamed up with Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins in a Team Corvette car, which took the fourth-fastest time in the GTS class with a lap of 1:48.769. Gunnar Racing's Porsche GT1 picked up the fifth-fastest time with 1:48.830. The #76 is driven by Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman, Gunnar Jeannette, Wayne Jackson and Michael Brockman.
Another well-known NASCAR driver slipped into a sports car during the testing, as Kyle Petty joined Leo Hindery, Peter Baron and Tony Kester in Orbit's Porsche GT3RS. The #43 car clocked a 1:56.935 time to record the eighth-fastest time in the GT class