Daytona test notes 2005-12-21

Rusty Wallace Turns First Laps in Daytona Prototype; Joins Grand American Regulars and Rolex 24 At Daytona Hopefuls for Daytona International Speedway Test Session DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 21, 2005) -- 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace ...

Rusty Wallace Turns First Laps in Daytona Prototype; Joins Grand American Regulars and Rolex 24 At Daytona Hopefuls for Daytona International Speedway Test Session

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 21, 2005) -- 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace joined Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson at Daytona International Speedway Wednesday to test the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford in a test session that saw five different teams from the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve continue preparations for the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 26-29, 2006.

Wallace was briefed about the No. 2 machine during the morning session, and shortly after the conclusion of the mid-day break, turned his first laps on the 3.56-mile road circuit in a Daytona Prototype.

"Obviously, my (NASCAR) career is over, and I went out with a nice feeling with my competitors, sponsors and fans. But I told them all along I wanted to run the Rolex 24. This has been in my plans for over a year and a half, and since I've never even seen one of these cars before, I wanted to come down and work the bugs out to really understand what I'm doing when I come back for the test in January."

The drivers joining Wallace for the Rolex 24 At Daytona have yet to be determined, but Wallace said an announcement regarding the lineup will come over the next two weeks.

"We've got a host of people that want to run with me," Wallace said. "We want to put two hot-shot road racers in with me. We'll do four drivers, myself and three others."

Wallace will return to Daytona International Speedway January 4-7, for the annual Daytona Test Days, where teams make final preparations for the twice-around-the-clock classic. The official entry list for the test will be announced in a media teleconference on January 4.

CARPENTIER, LESTER AND MENARD TEST DAYTONA PROTOTYPE FOR CHEEVER RACING

Indy Racing League's Patrick Carpentier, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bill Lester, and NASCAR Busch Series driver Paul Menard joined Eddie Cheever and Christian Fittipaldi at Daytona International Speedway to test the brand-new Cheever Racing Daytona Prototypes.

Cheever, who co-drove the No. 39 Lexus Crawford at Homestead-Miami two weeks ago, and will co-drive the machine with Fittipaldi for a full Rolex Series schedule in 2006, and used the test session at Daytona to gather information on his second Lexus Crawford, which has already been committed to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"We're at a steep learning curve right now," Cheever said. "We're shaking down a new car, so everything is a new experience for us. We'll hopefully decide the driver lineups for the Rolex 24 over the next couple of weeks."

"I'm really pleased to be out here," Lester said. "It's been a long time since I've been behind the wheel of a sports car, and I've never been behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype. I'm really appreciative of Eddie's call. I'm excited to turn some laps and hopefully I'll be here at Daytona in January."

"I'm very impressed with these cars," Carpentier said. "The biggest thing for me will be consistency. A 24-hour race is a completely different animal, and your whole mindset needs to shift. I'm hoping that everyone can get me up to speed real fast, and hopefully, I'll be in the Rolex 24."

BRUMOS RACING LOOKS TO SECURE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE CROWN IN 2006

After turning fast laps in the Rolex Series test sessions at Homestead-Miami Speedway two weeks ago, Brumos Racing team owner Bob Snodgrass has good reason to like his team's chances of competing for the 2006 Daytona Prototype crown, with either the No. 58 or No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcars.

"The Porsche motor continues to be the strongest part of our package," Snodgrass said. "We're absolutely going to be in the hunt next year."

The two-car effort, which produced nine top-10 finishes in 2005, looks to improve on their positions and contend for wins in 2006, with the help of the evolution design of their Fabcar chassis. Brumos Racing drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Hurley Haywood and JC France were joined by Busch North Series driver Ted Christopher at the Daytona test. Christopher will compete for Brumos in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

"The car has been testing really well," Snodgrass said. "I'm very positive right now. The car is going to be very, very good. Brumos has never been in a series that it hasn't dominated. We dominated the first year here, and we're going to be dominant again this year."

ALEX JOB RACING ANNOUNCES 2006 ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA DRIVER LINEUP

Alex Job, team owner of the No. 23 Shred-It Porsche Crawford, announced Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway his driver lineup for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Porsche factory drivers Lucas Luhr, Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller will pilot the No. 23 machine for the Rolex 24. The new team will be a collaboration of Alex Job Racing and Emory Motorsports.

"We have assembled a driver lineup that will showcase speed and experience in endurance racing," Job said. "Patrick, Lucas and Mike are factory Porsche drivers and have a combined 22 24-hour races between them, which gives us a driver knowledge base that we hope will be competitive at the end of January. As a team we have run 14 24-hour races and have won the GT class at Le Mans in 2003, 2005 as well as the Daytona 24 win in GT3 in 1999. We have quite a knowledge base from which to draw."

"My focus is on being able to add value to Alex Job's team," Rod Emory, President of Emory Motorsports, said. "I'm happy to be able to bring the financial package that is necessary to continue the quest of the championship. That's where Alex and I feel that this relationship is good as we try to work into the future, is we both have a certain area of expertise and desire to achieve. Alex is definitely one of the best on the technical side and on the entire team operation side. My objective is to be able to add value on the marketing and sponsorship side to bring this team forward."

VALIANTE EXCITED ABOUT FINLAY'S CHANCES IN 2006

Michael Valiante, who will share the No. 27 Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford in 2006 with team owner Rob Finlay, was testing the machine Wednesday at Daytona with Finlay, hopeful of strong Daytona Prototype finishes next year.

Valiante competed in four Rolex Series races in 2005--including a fifth-place run with Memo Gidley in the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley in the Crown Royal 250 at The Glen in September. The team has switched to Ford power for 2006, and Valiante likes the makeup of the team.

In Valiante's best personal effort in 2005, he led a race-high 22 laps at California Speedway filling in for Gidley, en route to a seventh-place finish with Michael McDowell.

"All of the drivers on the team get along real well," Valiante said. "Michael and Memo have been great in helping teach myself and Rob the ins and outs of the Daytona Prototype. I ran a couple of races last year, and led some laps, so I'm excited to be here. It's always good to have a full-time deal, and it's even better that it is with these guys."

Gidley was also in Daytona for the test, getting used to the new engine and chassis of the No. 19 machine. Gidley will again co-drive with McDowell in 2006, putting together a solid two-car assault for Finlay.

-garra-

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