Inaugural Laguna Seca pre-race notes

Inaugural Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Feature Rolex Series Record Number of Entries< DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 14, 2005) -- When the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series makes its first visit to the historic Mazda Raceway...

Inaugural Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Feature Rolex Series Record Number of Entries<

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 14, 2005) -- When the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series makes its first visit to the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Road & Track 250 on the weekend of April 29-May 1, the garage area will be an extremely busy place.

Rolex Series officials announced today that 52 cars have been entered for the groundbreaking event on the Monterey Peninsula, the most entries the series has ever had for a "sprint race." In addition to the bumper crop of Rolex Series machines, 50 cars have been entered for Saturday's featured Grand-Am Cup 200, with Formula BMW and MazdaSpeed Miata Cup also on the docket.

Leading the way in the 23-car Daytona Prototype field will be the Rolex Series' most recent overall winners, Luis Diaz and Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. The duo claimed a thrilling victory in the closest Rolex Series finish ever in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway on April 3. While this will be Diaz's first race around the 2.238-mile road course in a sports car, the Mexican has previous experience at Laguna Seca in open-wheel machines. Pruett--a native Californian--is certainly no stranger to "The Corkscrew," the "Andretti Hairpin" and "Wayne Rainey Curve," having competed in several Champ Car and sports car events on the Monterey track.

Also among the regular competitors in the Road & Track 250 field will be current Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-points leaders and two-time 2005 race winners Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli with their No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley. A 29-car GT field features San Francisco's Justin Marks--who shares the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3 with Tom Milner on the four-car BMW Team PTG--and Sacramento native Joey Hand, who earned a GT class victory in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway earlier this month alongside co-driver Bill Auberlen in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services M3, also for Team PTG.

Among the Daytona Prototype newcomers will be a familiar name to California race fans as Alex Gurney--the son of the legendary Dan Gurney--is set to make his Rolex Series debut in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley with co-driver Bob Stallings, while Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. debut another new-for-2005 entry with the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley. The GT field has been expanded with the addition of the No. 12 JMB Racing USA Ferrari 360 Challenge of David Gooding, Tom Jermoluk and Dan Kennedy, as well as Monterey's own Kevin Buckler and Steve Johnson in the No. 88 Porsche GT3 Cup for Buckler's Sonoma-based TRG team among others.

"As we begin an exciting new relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, we're delighted that Rolex Series history has been made before we've even turned a wheel at this beautiful facility," said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. "We're obviously thrilled with the impressive number of entries we've already had, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see even a few more entries before we arrive to race in two weeks. Sports car fans in the Monterey Peninsula are definitely in for a treat."

The Road & Track 250 will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 1. Tickets for the Road & Track 250 and the entire U.S. Sports Car Invitational weekend are available by calling 1-800-327-SECA or by visiting www.laguna-seca.com. The entry list is available on www.grandamerican.com.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alex Gurney , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Luis Diaz , Kevin Buckler , Max Angelelli , Justin Marks , Wayne Rainey , David Gooding , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Mark Patterson , Dan Kennedy , Steve Johnson , Bob Stallings , Michael Shank
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing