Daytona 24: Ponitac Racing preview

Pontiac Teams Headed to Daytona for Rolex 24 Gainsco and SunTrust Looking To Stay On Top Detroit, Mich., Jan. 19, 2007 - Pontiac powered Daytona Prototype and GT teams are headed to the World Center of Racing for the 45th running of the Grand-Am...

Pontiac Teams Headed to Daytona for Rolex 24
Gainsco and SunTrust Looking To Stay On Top

Detroit, Mich., Jan. 19, 2007 - Pontiac powered Daytona Prototype and GT teams are headed to the World Center of Racing for the 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve season opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona to be run January 27-28.

Gainsco and SunTrust Racing left the official practice sessions in early January leading the practice times in their Pontiac powered Daytona Prototypes (DP). SunTrust ran the fastest overall lap of the test, with Gainsco a close second. The two teams, proven front runners in 2006, are looking to take the biggest prize of the Grand-Am season, the coveted Rolex watches awarded to the 24 hour winners.

Thirteen Pontiac powered teams comprised of 10 Daytona Prototype (DP) competitors and three brand new Pontiac GXP.Rs will take to the famed high-banks of Daytona International Speedway for the twice around the clock affair. The winning DP car will have to travel the equivalent of driving from Daytona Beach to Yosemite National Park in California over the 24 hour period.

SunTrust Racing principal Wayne Taylor hopes to win another Rolex 24. "I really think that we have no weak link going into the race. It was important for Jeff to get maximum miles leading up to the race. I can tell if a driver can wheel these things after about 10 laps, and Jeff is absolutely no concern for us. We have been practicing driver changes and trying to plan for every eventuality that may come up in the race. The crew has practiced part changes and pit stops. Strategy is tough to plan for in the 24, the key will be to keep the car on the track and just stop for tires, fuel and driver. Any more stops than that and you are going to lose." Wayne Taylor will quarterback the SunTrust effort along with teammates Max Angelelli, who set the fast lap in testing early in the month. Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and GM factory driver Jan Magnussen round out the line-up.

Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing will be looking for their first Grand-Am DP win. "Bob Stallings is doing all of the things to make this team successful," Alex Gurney, Gainsco driver commented. "We may have put too much emphasis on shear speed in the past. We need to manage our speed and our race a little better. John and I need to put aside personal lap times and focus on the race. We also need some luck. The guys are a little more seasoned and the competition is tough. Bob has brought on some new people and the crew is pretty much full time now. We have a new crew chief and he is a seasoned distance pro in prepping these cars." Gurney, along with season long teammate John Fogarty and 24 hour part-timer Jimmy Vassar will be looking to give team owner and driver Bob Stallings his first Grand-Am victory.

Andy Wallace, driver of the #20 Crawford Motorsports DP entry, will be looking to add another Rolex to his wrist, having won the 24 three times overall and once in the GTS class. Wallace will team with long time co-driver Butch Leitzinger and NASCAR's Tony Stewart. "A driver must obviously be fast, but must also be able to work through traffic safely. With around 70 cars it's very easy to get wrong footed and make a mistake. This is especially the case when you are racing for position and then come across a whole gaggle of slower GT traffic. We had seven alternator changes last year during the race! The problem was traced and rectified afterwards, so I'm confident we'll be OK on that front. Of course there are many different things that can stop a car or prevent it from running at full speed for 24 hours. Howard Motorsports have been working really hard since the Miller nine-hours to make sure our Pontiac-Crawford is as ready as ever to take on the challenge of the Rolex 24. Tony Stewart is a truly professional driver. He can jump into just about any car and be quick within a few laps. I think he's one of the best all round drivers in the world. I don't know anyone with such a varied and successful resume. He's also great to work with, which is vitally important in such a long and difficult event. Butch is always strong behind the wheel and really excels in the long races."

In the GT field, Banner Racing will baptize their two Pontiac GXP.R GT cars in on-track competition at the 24. GM factory driver, Paul Edwards, #07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R, relays what will be necessary to have a successful race weekend. "The GXP.R is a little different aero and torque wise from the GTO.R. We need to have a flawless race to have a chance at winning. The other GT cars really laid down some fast times at the test. Our advantage through the infield we had last year isn't there any longer. We need to stay close to the leaders and try and wear them down. We have strong drivers and the Banner guys have gone through everything on the cars. It is a long race and we will have to see how the new tire behaves over the long runs. I think the tires will be a mystery for everyone. It will be tough; the car that won GT last year wasn't the quickest."

Pontiac Powered Grand-Am Teams for the Rolex 24 at Daytona:

#06 GT, Banner Racing, Pontiac GXP.R, Leighton Reese, Tim Lewis, Johnny O'Connell, Paul Edwards

#07 GT, Banner Racing, Pontiac GXP.R, Paul Edwards, Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins

#7 DP, SAMAX, Tom Kimber-Smith, Thomas Enge, Jeff Bucknum

#10 DP, SunTrust, Wayne Taylor; Max Angelelli, Jeff Gordon

#11 DP, SAMAX, Milka Dunno, Patrick Carpentier, Darren Manning, Ryan Dalziel

#12 DP, RVO Motorsports, Jack Baldwin, Bill Lester, Roger Schramm

#20 DP, Howard Motorsports, Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger, Tony Stewart

#30 GT, Racers Edge Motorsports, Ross Smith, Justin Lofton, Lawson Aschenbach

#75 DP, Krohn Racing, Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Boris Said

#76 DP, Krohn Racing, Colin Braun, JJ Lehto, Max Papis

#84 DP, Robinson Racing, George Robinson, Wally Dallenbach, Paul Dallenbach, Katherine Legge

#91 DP, Riley-Mathews Motorsports, Jim Mathews, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marc Goosens

#99 DP, Gainsco/Bob Stallings Motorsports, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmy Vassar, Bob Stallings

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing , Racers Edge Motorsports