Petty to run Porsche in Daytona Rolex 24

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 5, 2000) -- Winston Cup veteran Kyle Petty is following the lead of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. by taking a vacation from his stock car duties to compete in the Feb. 3-4 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 5, 2000) -- Winston Cup veteran Kyle Petty is following the lead of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. by taking a vacation from his stock car duties to compete in the Feb. 3-4 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener to the Grand American Road Racing Series. Petty will drive the No. 43 Porsche GT3RS fielded by Orbit Racing. Among Petty's co-drivers will be Leo Hindery and Peter Baron.

Petty is the third Winston Cup driver entered in the 39th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R with co-drivers Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim.

Another Winston Cup driver, Steve Park, was also at Daytona testing a Chevrolet Corvette for MTI Racing and looking at the possibility of competing in the Super Brand Sports Class of the Motorola Cup, a support race to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"It's a no-brainer," said Petty during a break in the second day of a three-day Rolex 24 At Daytona test session. "We're really working hard at Petty Enterprises to put together our Dodge program and to get everything done. With Buckshot (Jones) coming on board and with John (Andretti) and myself with the Sprint car moving that 45 team to Winston Cup, it's been a long hard five or six months.

"I look at this like a vacation. It's an opportunity to come down here and have fun and enjoy myself. That's what I've done today."

Last year, Petty and his father Richard and his late son Adam were working on a deal to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona driving one of the Team Oreca Vipers, but ran out of time to complete the package.

Petty put together this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona deal a couple of weeks ago over breakfast in San Francisco with Hindery, who has been involved in the past with the Richard Petty Driving Experience and is the former CEO of Time Warner.

"Leo said he was coming down here to do this," Petty said. "He said, 'You want to do it.' I said, 'Sure, I'll do it.' I thought he was joking. He called me back a couple of days later and he said if you want to do it, we'll do it and I said, 'I'm all over it.' "

This is not Petty's first Rolex 24 At Daytona venture. In 1986, he competed in North America's most prestigious race when he co-drove a Ford Mustang for Roush Racing with fellow Winston Cup drivers Bill Elliott, Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader.

"We broke about six or seven hours in," said Petty, whose only victory at the "World Center of Racing" came in the 1979 ARCA 200.

Fans can purchase tickets to watch the Earnhardts and Kyle Petty compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona online or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (904) 253-7223.

-DIS

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Series GRANDAM , NASCAR-CUP