Daytona II: Round seven preview

NASCAR Stars Set to Challenge Sports Car Elite in Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2005) -- With last weekend's event at California's Infineon Raceway in the rearview mirror, most drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup...

NASCAR Stars Set to Challenge Sports Car Elite in Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2005) -- With last weekend's event at California's Infineon Raceway in the rearview mirror, most drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will have to wait six weeks before they get another opportunity to race on a road course.

However, three 2005 NEXTEL Cup Series regulars and a two-time NASCAR champion pulling part-time duty this year will take advantage of the opportunity to further hone their road racing skills in Thursday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway (SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET).

NEXTEL Cup Series champions Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte, as well as second-generation star Kyle Petty will represent the largest contingent of NASCAR stars ever to compete in a Rolex Series "sprint race" on the 3.56-mile road course as the "World Center of Racing." The Brumos Porsche 250 will kick off a busy weekend for Stewart, Petty and Bobby Labonte, as those three drivers will also compete in Saturday night's Pepsi 400 NEXTEL Cup event on the 2.5-mile oval.

Stewart--who claimed his second-straight NEXTEL Cup road course victory last Sunday at Infineon Raceway--enters the Brumos Porsche 250 still looking for his first career Rolex Series victory. He has finished third in the Daytona Prototype class in each of his past three Rolex Series events at Daytona and will once again share the No. 20 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford with sports car standout Andy Wallace.

The Labonte brothers return for their second-straight Rolex Series appearance at Daytona, as they finished ninth in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona with co-drivers Jan Magnussen and IndyCar star Bryan Herta. They will share the No. 44 Doran Racing Pontiac Doran with sponsorship from Loctite, Henkel and DAYTONA USA in the Brumos Porsche 250. It will be their first of three consecutive Rolex Series races for Bobby Labonte, as he plans to also compete in the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park on July 31 and the CompUSA 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 12. Terry Labonte is expected to co-drive with his brother again in the CompUSA 200.

Petty, meanwhile, is making his first Rolex Series appearance of the season and his first since finishing second in the GT class at Phoenix International Raceway in 2004. He will share the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley with car owner Brian Tuttle and Tony Ave as the team makes its Daytona Prototype debut in the Brumos Porsche 250. All four NASCAR stars certainly have the cars and ability to win the Brumos Porsche 250, but they will need to face down stiff challenges from a host of Rolex Series regulars if they are to do so.

As defending champions of the Brumos Porsche 250 as well the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona, No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor must be considered the favorites heading into the battle under the lights on Thursday night. The SunTrust duo will be looking to be the first to win three consecutive Rolex Series events at Daytona since Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber claimed consecutive victories in the Paul Revere 250 and Grand American Champions Weekend at Daytona in 2003 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2004.

In addition to battling for the race victory, Angelelli and Taylor also look to regain sole possession of the Daytona Prototype point standings following the Brumos Porsche 250. The SunTrust duo hasn't finished lower than sixth all season, but a string of four-consecutive podium finishes for No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz has created a four-driver logjam atop the points table heading into the halfway point of the season. The drivers are tied with 180 points apiece.

Given Diaz and Pruett's recent run of success, they will undoubtedly figure into the equation throughout Thursday's activities. The No. 01 car has started from the pole position in all three of its previous races at Daytona and 14 of 18 Rolex Series races overall, making it the clear favorite when the green flag waves to begin the 15-minute Daytona Prototype qualifying session at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. In addition to winning poles, Diaz and Pruett have proven to also be adept at winning races as evidenced by their victories at California Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this year. One thing is certain, the 180-180 tie between the No. 01 and No. 10 drivers will be broken at race's end.

Based on their 1-2 sweep in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen one race ago, the two-car Krohn Racing/TRG operation will also be challengers for the victory. Watkins Glen winners Nic Jonsson and team co-owner/driver Tracy Krohn look for two-in-a-row in their No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, while Max Papis returns once again to share the team's No. 66 Pontiac Riley with Germany's Jorg Bergmeister.

While NASCAR fans may focus their attention on the No. 20 machine, one must not overlook the rest of the powerful Howard-Boss Motorsports contingent. Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger are proven Rolex Series race winners and they will share the same No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford that they co-drove to a second-place finish in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona with NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson on Thursday night.

Another set of proven winners occupy the team's No. 2 CITGO-sponsored Pontiac Crawford as Milka Duno and Jan Lammers will once again handle the driving duties. Co-driving the team's No. 06 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford will be former Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Rob Dyson and young hotshoe Harrison Brix.

Two cars that have been knocking on the door of victory since the beginning of the season are the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley of Finlay Motorsports. The No. 02 machine will again be shared by Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson, while Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell return to the No. 19 race car. Both should be considered favorites to collect a breakthrough victory in the Brumos Porsche 250.

Pontiac currently leads the Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer standings and has plenty of bullets to bolster its lead in addition to the aforementioned Pontiac-powered teams. Mike Borkowski and Orlando, Fla.-based driver Paul Mears Jr. will again share the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley for Michael Shank Racing, while Daytona Beach-based Spirit of Daytona Racing brings a two-car assault with Bob Ward and Roberto Moreno set to share the team's No. 07 Waste Services Inc. Pontiac Crawford and Doug Goad and Stephan Gregoire paired in the No. 09 Spiralz Custom Jewelry/Hawaiian Tropic/SunTrust Pontiac Crawford.

Other potent Pontiacs include the No. 39 Jim Matthews Racing Pontiac Riley of co-drivers Jim Matthews and Guy Smith, the No. 54 Kodak EasyShare/Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran of Borcheller and Ralf Kelleners, and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley of car owner Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney, who is the son of racing legend Dan Gurney.

The Brumos Porsche 250 features a pair of Porsches from Brumos Racing and four drivers that have had considerable success in Daytona Prototype competition. Darren Law and David Donohue will co-drive the team's No. 58 Red Bull-sponsored Porsche Fabcar, while five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Hurley Haywood will once again share the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar with JC France.

Adding to the stable of strong Lexus-powered cars are the No. 15 DLGL/HRIS Software Lexus Riley of Chris Bingham and Hugo Guenette with CB Motorsports, and the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Lexus Doran of Italian drivers Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin with Doran Racing. Dominic Cicero II and James Gue will share the lone Ford-powered Daytona Prototype in the field as they will co-drive the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford.

Completing the Daytona Prototype lineup will be the BMW-powered teams of Shane Lewis and Darius Grala in the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley for Southard Motorsports and Burt and Brian Frisselle in the No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran.

In addition to a 25-car Daytona Prototype entry, the Brumos Porsche 250 will feature a 31-car field of GT machines and plenty more storylines.

GT points leader Craig Stanton, who has finished in the class top six in all six of his starts thus far in 2005, will once again share the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup with co-driver David Murry in search of his first class victory of the season. Murry is also entered to co-drive Synergy Racing's No. 81 Autobysite.com/Pipeservicestt.com Porsche GT3 Cup with Mae Van Wijk, and the team will also field the No. 87 Porsche GT3 Cup for Steve and Danny Marshall.

Another big story in GT will be the debut of the Pontiac GTO.R with the TRG team. Marc Bunting and Andy Lally--who are currently ranked second in the class point standings and trail leader Stanton by 15 points (171-156)--will co-drive the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R for the first time in the Brumos Porsche 250. TRG will also field the No. 64 Pontiac GTO.R for Magnussen and co-driver Paul Edwards.

Jim Tafel Jr. and Andrew Davis, who are currently tied for fifth in the GT standings, will once again share the No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup as they look for their first GT win. The most recent GT race winners, Leh Keen and Cory Friedman, will go for two-in-a-row in the No. 14 Keen Cap/Toptul Porsche GT3 Cup for Autometrics Motorsports, and the Autometrics team will also field the No. 94 BL Patch Porsche GT3 Cup for Bransen Patch and Mac McGehee.

Other 2005 GT winners in the field include Joey Hand and Justin Marks in the No. 16 F1 Air BMW M3, Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner in the No. 21 BMW Financial Services BMW M3, and Ian James and Chris Gleason in the No. 22 BMW Financial Services BMW M3. All three entries are fielded by BMW Team PTG, as well as the No. 17 F1 Air BMW M3 of Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine.

The GT field will include a total of 21 Porsches, two Chevrolet Corvettes and a pair of Horizon Motorsports Pontiac GTOs.

The compact schedule will see practice, qualifying and the Brumos Porsche 250 race all run on Thursday, June 30. Activities get underway at 9:00 a.m. ET with a 30-minute practice session for GT cars, followed by a one-hour practice for both Rolex Series classes. At 10:30 a.m., the Daytona Prototypes will have the 3.56-mile road course to themselves for 30 minutes.

Both Rolex Series classes will return to the track for another practice session from 11:45 to 12:30 p.m., with GT qualifying set for 1:00 to 1:15 p.m. and Daytona Prototype qualifying scheduled from 1:30 to 1:45 p.m. The Brumos Porsche 250, Round 7 of the 14-race 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will get underway at 7:15 p.m. ET. The scheduled distance for the Brumos Porsche 250 is 250 miles (70 laps), but is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.

SPEED Channel will televise the race in its entirety beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage from all sessions will also be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Autometrics Motorsports , Doran Racing , Michael Shank Racing