Earnhard gives up "by-pass" 24 hours

Dale Earnhardt returns to the track in the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus car for the first time in 2001. But something is different as he climbs in his machine. It's not the famous black number three that Earnhardt has made an ICON over his ...

Dale Earnhardt returns to the track in the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus car for the first time in 2001. But something is different as he climbs in his machine. It's not the famous black number three that Earnhardt has made an ICON over his racing career, he's testing his No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Corvette in preparation for the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona on February 3rd and 4th.

Earnhardt, along with son, Dale jr. and third teammate, Andy Pilgrim, are testing their Corvette for the first time at Daytona International Speedway in an open test for the 24-hour event. Pilgrim, a veteran in the 24 hour race, will lead the trio as they try to make history with a win, putting Earnhardt on a short list of Mario Andretti and A. J. Foyt, as the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Daytona 24 Hour race. Even though the NASCAR Champion holds the record for most wins at the "World Center of Racing", Earnhardt has never competed on the road course at the breath taking facility.

"I've been racing here for many years, but according to Andy (Pilgrim) I've been taking the 'by pass' around the track. This is going to be my first time taking the 'business' route through the speedway, I'm looking forward to it," commented Earnhardt.

"Dale Jr. and I tested the Corvette at Sebring after our race in Atlanta. I came away very impressed, as did Dale Jr. It's a different type of car and takes some adjusting knowing the characteristics," Earnhardt continued. "We are coming in with the intentions of winning, so it's important we spend every lap possible getting ready for the race. This three day test should be a good measuring stick for when we return in a few weeks."

The test at Daytona International Speedway will begin Thursday, January 4th and conclude on Saturday, January 6th.

Earnhardt has 34 victories at Daytona International Speedway including 10 consecutive 125-mile victories ('90-99), five consecutive Busch Series wins ('90-'94) and the 1998 Daytona 500. His last victory at DIS came in the International Race Of Champions (IROC) in February 2000.

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Series GRANDAM , NASCAR-CUP