More Than 160 Drivers Entered For Grand-Am KONI Challenge Finale Weekend at Virginia International Stars from the screen, sports car scene set for Twin Six-Hours DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2007) -- Over 160 competitors will be on hand...
More Than 160 Drivers Entered For Grand-Am KONI Challenge Finale Weekend at Virginia International
Stars from the screen, sports car scene set for Twin Six-Hours
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2007) -- Over 160 competitors will be on hand this weekend at the season finale for the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) divisions, featuring 12 hours of racing at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. Stars from around the globe who have made their name from the silver screen to various forms of motorsports are hoping for award-winning performances in the twin six-hour races.
Along with dozens of other talented and race-winning sports car drivers, the weekend will feature sports car champions Davy Jones, Bill Auberlen, Andy Lally, Scott Maxwell, Darren Law and David Empringham; Daytona Prototype stars Nic Jonsson and Shane Lewis; up-and-coming stock car racer Colin Braun; second-generation racers Jack Roush Jr. and Jordan Taylor; and actor/racer Patrick Dempsey.
The star of ABC's award-winning television medical drama Grey's Anatomy and various major motion-picture films, Hollywood's Dempsey has been accustomed to trading in his off weekends for the opportunity to race in Grand-Am. He finished a season-best sixth in the KONI Challenge Series GS race at Homestead-Miami, and added to his resume a Rolex Series start last month at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Dempsey participated in the KONI Challenge race one day and in the GT race the next, co-driving Hyper Sport's No. 40 SoBe Beverages Mazda RX-8. Dempsey will drive the No. 54 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT at VIR with Rick Skelton and Joe Middlebrooks in the GS race, and will race the ST Championship race in the No. 63 Roar Racing Fresh Air Systems Technology Mazda RX-8 with Charles Espenlaub and Andrew Carbonell.
NASCAR-bound Braun and second-generation driver Roush Jr. have ties beyond just teaming together this weekend. Roush's father Jack signed Braun to a driver development deal earlier this season with his Roush Fenway Racing team in NASCAR, and Braun has already competed for Jack Roush in a handful of ARCA races. Braun, who competed in 13 of the 14 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve races this season and won twice in Daytona Prototype competition a season ago, ran his second-ever Daytona Prototype race at VIR in 2005. Roush Jr. made his KONI Challenge debut at VIR a year ago and learned to road race under the tutelage of one of America's most talented road racers, Boris Said. Roush and Braun will co-drive the No. 59 Rehagen Racing Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang GT.
Another next-generation driver making his Grand-Am debut this weekend is Jordan Taylor, son of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Champion Wayne Taylor. Jordan won the Skip Barber Eastern Region championship this season after earning a scholarship with the organization earlier in the year. Jordan started racing go-karts at the age of 10. He will drive the No. 32 i-MOTO Racing Cobalt Friction/Alpinestar Acura TSX.
Jones has starred as a top sports car driver since he began racing professionally. In addition to a 1996 Indianapolis 500 runner-up finish, he is one of the most celebrated drivers in American Sports Car history. Jones won in 1996 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and earned 12 GTP wins driving the Jaguar for Tom Walkinshaw Racing. He earned top-10 finishes in 60 of 73 starts and competed in the IROC series from 1990-1994. Jones competed in four KONI Challenge Series events this season with a best finish of fourth at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll co-pilot the No. 141 ICY/Phoenix Racing Subaru Legacy alongside David Rosenblum.
Auberlen and Lally are two of the fastest Americans in sports car racing today, and are two of three drivers to have won races in both the Rolex Series and KONI Challenge series this season. In addition, Lally made two starts for No. 47 Clorox/American Red Cross Ford. But Lally isn't the only one who found stardom in the NASCAR Busch Series. Jonsson, who teamed with Braun for four of the final four Daytona Prototype races this season with a best finish of second, campaigned in the NASCAR Busch Series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as well in the No. 28 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet.
Shane Lewis is another Daytona Prototype regular eager to return to winner's circle. Earlier this season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Lewis teamed with John Schmitt in the No. 22 HART Honda/Red Line Oil Honda Accord to win the ST race, and the pair will look to obtain another win this weekend. Lewis, who has competed in at least one Rolex Series race since the series' inaugural season in 2000, scored a season-best fourth-place finish in the finale at Miller Motorsports Park in mid-September.
Maxwell, part of the Hyper Sport stable, and Empringham each own KONI Challenge season championship as well as victories this season, and will each pilot a Ford Mustang GT this weekend. Maxwell will team with Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub in the No. 55 Hyper Sport Supercuts Ford Mustang GT, while Empringham joins Tom Nastasi in the No. 5 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Ramset Tools Ford Mustang GT. Law finished a Daytona Prototype season-best second with David Donohue in August at Infineon Raceway.