Rolex 24 At Daytona January Test Days News & Notes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 3, 2002) -- The Rolex 24 At Daytona January Test Days began today at Daytona International Speedway with all five classes of the Rolex Sports Car Series taking to the track in preparation for the February event that kicks off the 2002 SpeedWeeks. The factory-backed Riley & Scott Mark III-C of Jim Matthews Racing recorded the quickest time of the day with a 1:41.452 lap at 126.326 mph. IRL driver Scott Sharp, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Robby Gordon, Guy Smith and team owner Jim Matthews are sharing driving duties in the #36 Riley & Scott this weekend. Rand Racing's #8 Nissan-powered Lola clocked the fastest the SportsRacing Prototype II time, more than three seconds faster than any other SRPII cars. The #3 Jaguar of Rocketsports Racing had the fastest GTS time, while The Racer's Group #68 Porsche GT3 RS was quickest in the GT class. The #47 Corvette of Morgan-Dollar Motorsports had the fastest American GT lap during the first day of testing.
Southern Snow Storm Delays Teams
Several teams were delayed in their travels to Daytona Beach when Atlanta airport was closed due to the snowstorm that wreaked havoc on the Southeast last night. Driver Terry Borcheller became stranded in Atlanta last night when his flight was cancelled and opted to rent a car and drive through the night to reach Daytona. Unfortunately, Borcheller's helmet and driver suit was in his checked baggage. Although he was at the track this morning, he was unable to get behind the wheel of the Rand Racing #8 Nissan-powered Lola until his bags arrived.
Robinson Racing was another team whose testing sessions were disrupted by the snowstorm. Although Atlanta-resident Jack Baldwin was able to make it out of town before the storm hit, several members of his crew were left stranded when they stopped for a connecting flight. "We've got a brand new nose for the car, and we've made a ton of changes to it. We just can't take it out on the track until the guys get here," said Baldwin as he waited for his crew to arrive in the cars they rented and drove from Atlanta.
The Rolex Series' youngest driver, Clint Field, is on his way to Daytona from Columbus, Ohio, being driven by team manager Martin Dixon due to their flight's cancellation. Several other teams reported missing crewmembers and drivers due to the canceled flights, but everyone is expected to be at the track by Friday's sessions.
Jamie France to Get Test in Marcos
The Marcos USA team reports that it will give a test drive on Friday to Jamie France, son of ISC President Jim France. The Deland, Fla.-based team was unable to debut its new car during today's testing due to a delay in it clearing customs, but expects to take delivery of the new Marcos on Friday. Team manager Toto Lassally is excited to give France a chance to see what he can do behind the wheel of the new car.
GT Driver Champ Breaks In New SRPII Car
Rolex Series 2001 GT driver champion Darren Law got behind the wheel of G&W Motorsports' new BMW-powered Picchio for the first time today. Although Law has raced in the team's #81 Porsche GT3 R for the past two seasons, he did not have a problem adjusting to the open-cockpit SportsRacing Prototype II. "For me its not that big of a deal. I grew up in formula racing and karts, so I'm used to the wind, though it is a bit cold out here today," said Law. Both the drivers and crew are very happy with their new car. "We've got a lot of learning to do, but I'm really impressed with this car out of the box," Law added. The #07 Picchio is the first of its kind to race in the Rolex Series.
Harvick Quickest in #90 Corvette
NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kevin Harvick took the RE/MAX Racing #90 Corvette onto the Speedway for the first time and clocked the quickest time in the car among his co-drivers, although he did have a bumpy start to the day. "He spun out coming out of the pits because of cold tires, but now that he's gotten used to the car, he's been really fast," team owner Todd Flis commented.
Dyson Debuts New Paint Scheme for #20 Car
Dyson Racing Team debut a new paint scheme for the #20 Ford-powered Riley & Scott. In past years, the team's #16 and #20 entries ran the same blue-and-white design, but this year the #20 has replaced the blue with black and gray. "It looks more corporate," team owner Rob Dyson said. "And of course it makes it easier to differentiate the two cars." Unfortunately the new paint got a little rubbed during the last testing session when the #20 car got into Robinson Racing's #74 Riley & Scott.
Stewart Makes Sports Car Premiere
NASCAR Winston Cup driver Tony Stewart made his sports car racing debut today, testing the #2 Judd-powered Crawford. However, Stewart admitted that he's got a lot of work to do in the car. "I need to get faster -- about 13 seconds faster," he said after only a few laps in the car. "I've got a lot of work to do, but I'm having fun."
Rolex Sports Car Series testing will continue at Daytona International Speedway on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The 40th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Feb. 2-3, will kick off the 2002 Rolex Sports Car Series season, as well as SpeedWeeks at Daytona International Speedway. Tickets are currently on sale for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and may be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at 386-253-RACE. The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be broadcast on Speedvision.
More information on the Rolex Sports Car Series and Rolex 24 At Daytona is available online at www.grand-am.com.