Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Drivers Comment on Addition of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to 2006 Schedule DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 5, 2005) -- Following this afternoon's announcement that the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series ...
Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Drivers Comment on Addition of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to 2006 Schedule
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 5, 2005) -- Following this afternoon's announcement that the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototypes will race on Saturday, April 8, 2006 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, several of the category's top drivers with previous experience at Long Beach weighed in with their thoughts. What follows below are their comments.
SCOTT PRUETT (No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley): "Grand-Am brings a lot of very familiar names that ALMS doesn't have currently to a lot of the fans at Long Beach. Myself and my teammates--Stefan Johansson and Luis Diaz--and a lot of names that have been there in a number of different cars. I think there's familiarity there with who the drivers are. This year has been nothing less than spectacular with the racing. The wheel-to-wheel combat we've had this year, the hard racing, even our last race between myself and Max Angelelli was right down to the checkered flag when we were going at it tooth-and-nail. I think that's what Grand-Am racing is about and we continue to make that mark. If we can take a show like that to Long Beach in a 90-minute format with a driver change, it's going to be nothing less than exciting."
MAX PAPIS (No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley): "As a Rolex Series defending champion, I am excited to go to Long Beach. Long Beach is the greatest American street race weekend. The last time I was there, I was on the podium in Champ Car. Last year I won the Pro/Celebrity Race with Toyota. This is a big commitment on the part of Grand American and we will put on a fantastic show. It is a great event. The Rolex Series will surely add extra excitement to the event with close racing and a lot action. It is a great place to have Grand American's first street race."
OSWALDO NEGRI JR. (No. 60 Flight Options/Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley): "I ran Long Beach twice in Indy Lights, and it's an absolutely fantastic venue. It is a fans race, with amazing attendance and lots of racing fanatics. It's also a special race for a driver because of all the history and the environment is so exciting. Driving on a street course is a new challenge for the Rolex Series, and I think we are going to impress a lot of the fans with the show we put on. I can't wait to drive that weekend!"
MEMO GIDLEY (No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance/Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley): "Wow, more than 20 Daytona Prototypes taking the green flag at Long Beach, what an experience that's going to be! It's one I'm really looking forward to, because I've run a lot of races there and won an Atlantic race there in the rain. I think this is a huge step forward in the evolution of the Rolex Series because 100,000 road racing fans who have never seen Daytona Prototypes will get to see what great racing this is. A lot of companies that are interested in motorsports but don't really know about Grand American or the Rolex Series are going to be thinking, 'we'd better check this out.'"
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley): "I think it is going to be great having a Rolex Series event on the streets of Long Beach, even though my record of a best finish of fifth and a bunch of DNFs is not that great. The California crowds love racing and I think it's going to be awesome to see us race with Champ Car. The Daytona Prototype cars will do just fine. They are similar to Champ Cars in a couple of ways, the biggest is they are designed to be even, so I don't anticipate any problem. They will adapt well to the circuit because they are very robust."
MICHAEL VALIANTE (No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance/Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley): This is very exciting news, and I think this is just the kind of race that Grand American needs to be at to accelerate their popularity among the fans. Having won a race there in the Atlantic series, I don't see any problem with running a Daytona Prototype on the same circuit. The needs are the same; the car has to turn in well, go over the bumps and stop quickly. Because the cars are bigger, there's less of a margin for error, but some of the top drivers in the world are racing in the Rolex Series, and I think they'll put on a tremendous show."