All-Star Driver Lineup Set to Participate in 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 19, 2006) -- The eyes of the motorsports world will be on Daytona International Speedway next week, as an all-star cast of drivers has signed...
All-Star Driver Lineup Set to Participate in 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 19, 2006) -- The eyes of the motorsports world will be on Daytona International Speedway next week, as an all-star cast of drivers has signed up to participate in the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona, which will kick off the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve on the weekend of January 26-29.
A total of 73 entries have been filed for North America's most prestigious endurance race, which takes the green flag shortly after 12:00 Noon ET on Saturday, January 28 and the checkered flag 24 hours later. The entry list features a race-record 32 Daytona Prototypes and 41 GT machines, and the total car count expected exceeds the 2005 total by 11 cars.
FIELD WILL INCLUDE 17 FORMER OVERALL WINNERS
In the 44-race history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, just 96 drivers have celebrated overall victories in Gatorade Victory Lane. The 2006 Rolex 24 will showcase 17 of those drivers, led by the winningest driver in Rolex 24 history, Hurley Haywood. The five-time overall winner (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991) will share the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar with NASCAR Busch North and Whelen Modified Tour star Ted Christopher and past Daytona Prototype race-winner JC France.
Three-time overall winners Butch Leitzinger (1994, 1997, 1999) and Andy Wallace (1990, 1997, 1999) will team up with reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports. All three drivers finished inside the top three in last year's rendition of the Rolex 24.
The lone two-time winner in the field is Wayne Taylor (1996, 2005), who will look to successfully defend his Rolex 24 At Daytona victory from last year alongside Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard--with whom he co-drove to the 2005 victory--and team newcomer Ryan Briscoe from Australia. Collard and reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champions Angelelli and Taylor look to become the first drivers to earn back-to-back overall victories in the Rolex 24 since Al Holbert, Derek Bell and Al Unser Jr. in 1986 and 1987.
The No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley will feature a pair of previous Rolex 24 overall winners, as 2002 winner Max Papis joins 1994 champ Scott Pruett, as well as Mexico's Luis Diaz. Pruett and Papis will be reunited in the Rolex 24 for the first time since the duo claimed the Daytona Prototype championship in 2004.
The foursome that took the overall victory in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona has been entered, albeit with different teams. Christian Fittipaldi joins the new Cheever Racing team, co-driving the Crown Royal Special Reserve-sponsored No. 39 Lexus Crawford with team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever as well as Canadian open-wheel racing star Patrick Carpentier.
Fittipaldi's co-drivers in the 2004 classic, Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller, are teamed with co-drivers Harrison Brix and Mexican ace Michel Jourdain Jr. in the No. 77 Kodak/Feeds The Need Ford Doran for Doran Racing. The fourth member of the 2004 winning team, Andy Pilgrim, will compete in the GT class alongside co-drivers Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Jan Magnussen in the No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R.
TRG's other Pontiac GTO.R--the No. 65 machine--includes 2001 overall winner Johnny O'Connell, who will co-drive with Andy Lally, Marc Bunting and RJ Valentine. O'Connell's 2001 teammate, Ron Fellows, is also entered for the Rolex 24, co-driving the No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype with Chris Bingham and Randy Ruhlman.
Jorg Bergmeister, who earned an overall victory in the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona, returns in search of another Rolex, and will co-drive the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley with Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and 17-year-old Colin Braun. Rob Dyson, an overall winner in 1997, will share the No. 16 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford with his son, Chris Dyson, as well as sports car standouts Oliver Gavin and Guy Smith for Howard-Boss Motorsports.
Taylor's co-drivers when he earned his first Rolex 24 victory in 1996, Scott Sharp and Jim Pace, are also entered in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Sharp will share the brand-new No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley with Mexican superstar and team owner Adrian Fernandez and former Champ Car standout Mario Haberfeld. Pace, meanwhile, is entered in the No. 68 TRG Porsche GT3 with co-drivers Jim Lowe and Revere Greist in the GT class.
SUPERSTARS FROM NASCAR AND OPEN-WHEEL RACING APLENTY
In recent years, the Rolex 24 At Daytona has enjoyed a star-studded cast of "guest drivers" and the 2006 rendition will be no exception.
One team that will garner plenty of attention is the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford operation, with 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace and 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick joining Scottish sports car ace Allan McNish. Patrick and Wallace created quite a stir during their appearance at the recent Daytona Test Days, which will grow even larger throughout the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend.
Another team of stars is the No. 02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley entry with NASCAR standout Casey Mears joining 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and 2005 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon. The winningest active driver in Champ Car World Series competition, Paul Tracy, returns for his second attempt at Rolex 24 glory, sharing the No. 6 Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR Lexus Riley with his Canadian countryman, Kenny Wilden, and American Rolex Series veterans Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr.
The No. 7 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley features IRL IndyCar star Dario Franchitti, as well as his younger brother, Marino Franchitti, three-time Rolex Series overall race winner Milka Duno and Irish racer Kevin McGarrity. IndyCar race-winner Alex Barron joins Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell in the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford, while 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice and multi-time Champ Car and IRL race-winner Bryan Herta team up with Canadian standout Michael Valiante and team owner Rob Finlay in the team's No. 28 Ford Crawford.
Champ Car rising stars A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson make their respective Rolex 24 At Daytona debuts in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley alongside speedy Brazilian Oswaldo Negri Jr. and America's Mark Patterson for Michael Shank Racing. Co-driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley will be 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser, as well as the lightning-quick Alex Gurney, owner/driver Bob Stallings and Rocky Moran Jr., the son of 1993 overall winner Rocky Moran.
Another name in the field certain to resonate with NASCAR fans is NEXTEL Cup veteran and current NBC Sports television personality Wally Dallenbach Jr., who will share the No. 84 Robinson Racing Pontiac Riley with his brother, Paul Dallenbach, as well as George Robinson and Darin Brassfield.
SPORTS CAR VETERANS AND YOUNG GUNS LOOK TO BECOME ROLEX ROYALTY
The Rolex 24 At Daytona will also feature its usual complement of sports car standouts, as well as several up-and-comers looking to add their names to the Rolex 24 At Daytona history books.
Former Champ Car Atlantic race winners Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel and two-time Atlantic champions Jon Fogarty and David Empringham--who also claimed the 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) title--will share the No. 89 Pontiac Riley for Pacific Coast Motorsports, while Rolex Series rising stars Burt and Brian Frisselle will co-drive the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing Porsche Doran with Dutch racer Patrick Huisman.
Porsche is the winningest manufacturer in Rolex 24 At Daytona history, and this year's field will include several of the manufacturer's factory drivers looking to build on that legacy. Mike Rockenfeller, Patrick Long and Lucas Luhr comprise an extremely fast driving trio in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford. Porsche factory pilot Sascha Maassen was plenty quick in Daytona Test Days and will share the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar with Darren Law and second-generation racer David Donohue.
The GT class features plenty of sports car racing superstars, including two-time Rolex Series GT champion Bill Auberlen, who will co-drive the No. 05 Sigalsport BMW M3 with Tom Milner, Justin Marks and Matthew Alhadeff. Multi-time Rolex Series class winners Michael Levitas and Randy Pobst will co-drive the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 with Ian Baas and Spencer Pumpelly, while Grand-Am Cup Series Sport Touring (ST) champions Sylvain Tremblay and David Haskell have joined the Rolex Series GT class and will co-drive the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.
Tafel Racing fields a powerful, two-car assault on the GT class, with Eric Lux, Charles Espenlaub, Andrew Davis, Jim Tafel and Mike Cawley set to share the team's No. 74 NEC/Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3, and Robin Liddell, Johannes van Overbeek, second-generation standout Graham Rahal and defending Rolex 24 At Daytona GT winner Wolf Henzler sharing the team's No. 72 Porsche. Henzler's 2005 co-drivers, Dominik Farnbacher and Pierre Ehret, are also in the field looking to repeat their GT victory, and will share the No. 83 Farnbacher Loles/Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 with Mike Fitzgerald and Marc Basseng. Reigning Rolex Series GT champion Craig Stanton has returned to the GT class and will co-drive the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 with David Murry and Leh Keen.
The full Rolex 24 At Daytona entry list is attached and is also available at: www.grandamerican.com/Events/EntryList.asp?EventID=134.