Stars From The World Of Motorsports To Ring In the New Year with the Grand-Am Rolex Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 2, 2007) -- Superstars from around the world of motorsports will ring in the new year with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 this weekend, as 64 Daytona Prototype and GT machines are scheduled to visit the "World Center of Racing" January 4-6 for the January Test Days in preparation for the 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month.
The team with the target, so to speak, on their backs for the month of January in the Rolex Series is the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing stable. The No. 01 TELMEX Lexus Riley, then driven by 2004 Rolex Series champion Scott Pruett, NASCAR Sprint Cup star Juan Pablo Montoya, and Salvador Duran, captured last year's crown in the twice-around-the-clock classic. The No. 02 Target Lexus Riley captured the title the year before, setting the stage for a Ganassi three-peat in 2008.
Pruett, his Rolex Series season-long co-driver Memo Rojas, Montoya and defending Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti are slated to drive the No. 01 machine at the test and in this year's star-studded Rolex 24. IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon and youngsters Duran and Alex Lloyd will team in the No. 02 machine.
Entering the Rolex 24 At Daytona with unfinished business on their minds, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team is searching for the one crown that eluded them in 2007. Though the team captured the Rolex Series championship with drivers Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in a record-setting seven-win season, a disappointing 22nd place finish in last year's Rolex 24 nearly cost the duo a championship. Scheduled to join the duo at the test and for the race is two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and 1996 Champ Car World Series Champion Jimmy Vasser, who add more star power and racing experience to the GAINSCO machine.
Again in 2008, the driver star power scheduled at the test days comes from a mix of Rolex Series and sports car regulars and "visitors" from NASCAR and open-wheel racing. With a number of driver slots still to be confirmed in the upcoming weeks, a number of those stars are expected to be in attendance this weekend at January Test Days.
Among those sports car stars are the four drivers of the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford, who will conduct their assault on Daytona International Speedway with four established sports car stars. Season regulars Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand will welcome Patrick Long, who piloted the No. 23 machine a season ago, and Andy Wallace to the team for the Rolex 24. 2005 Rolex Series co-champions Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli will unite with Angelelli's season-long teammate Michael Valiante and Taylor's eldest son, 18-year-old Ricky Taylor, joining the team for his Rolex Series race debut.
The familiar Brumos Porsche two-car effort will feature David Donohue, Darren Law and Buddy Rice in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley and Hurley Haywood, JC France, Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley. Doran Racing will attack the Rolex 24 with Memo Gidley, Brad Jaeger and Fabrizio Gollin in the No. 77 Kodak Ford Doran.
Teams like Michael Shank Racing have taken a different route for their Rolex 24 battles, bringing Champ Car stars Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal to join Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson in the No. 60 Lexus Riley. Riley-Matthews Motorsports will pair IndyCar Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay and sports car hot shoe Johnny O'Connell with regulars Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews in the No. 91 Pontiac Riley.
The No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Toshiba Pontiac Riley has skipped the sports car drivers all together, taking Penske Racing drivers from their IndyCar and NASCAR rides and placing Kurt Busch, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in their own Daytona Prototype for test days and the Rolex 24.
In all, 22 Daytona Prototypes are expected to be at the test, including Rolex Series regulars from Southard Motorsports, Fortune Market Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing, RVO Motorsports, Cheever Racing, AIM Autosport, and Krohn Racing.
A field of 42 Grand Touring machines is expected to be on hand for the test session, led by full stables of machines from title contenders TRG and Farnbacher Loles Motorsports. Both teams will field seven Porsche GT3 machines each during test days and the Rolex 24.
Among the stars shooting for a Rolex 24 class victory for TRG are Andy Lally, Brice Miller, Johannes van Overbeek, Spencer Pumpelly and Brian Sellers. They'll battle their seven-car rival Farnbacher Loles in the Rolex 24 just as they did for an entire season in 2007, with Farnbacher counting Wolf Henzler, Sascha Maassen, Jorg Bergmeister and Dirk Werner among their aces.
Annual championship contenders SpeedSource, Banner Racing and Blackforest Motorsports are also among the teams searching for speed this weekend in preparation for the Rolex 24. Each is expecting stiff competition from entries from Automatic Racing, Hyper Sport, Stevenson Motorsports, Autohaus and Synergy Racing -- among many others battling for GT class supremacy during the Rolex 24.