Stars Set to Shine in First Tune Up for 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 2, 2006) -- If next week's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve test sessions at Daytona International...
Stars Set to Shine in First Tune Up for 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 2, 2006) -- If next week's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve test sessions at Daytona International Speedway are any indication, the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona--which has attracted star-studded lineups for the past several years--will be bigger and better than ever.
The two-day test session on the 3.56-mile road course at the "World Center of Racing" scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, November 6-7, has drawn 41 entries as teams familiarize themselves with the new BOSCH Engine Control Unit (ECU) that will be required on all Rolex Series cars in 2007. The field includes 22 Daytona Prototypes and an impressive driver roster for the first of three series-sanctioned preseason tests before the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 27-28.
Heading the list are Daytona Prototype champions Scott Pruett, Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. Pruett, the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion, will return to the cockpit of the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to begin preparations for a 2007 season in which he will have a new co-driver.
Angelelli and Taylor, meanwhile, will put the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley through its testing paces as they prepare to welcome four-time NASCAR champion and Rolex 24 At Daytona rookie Jeff Gordon as their co-driver for the twice-around-the-clock classic in 2007. Gordon will not participate in this test session owing to his NASCAR commitments, but is expected to test the No. 10 machine prior to the race.
The test will also feature three high-profile women piloting Daytona Prototypes, as three-time Rolex Series race winner Milka Duno, 2005 Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and 2006 Champ Car rookie standout Katherine Legge have all been entered. Duno will share the No. 11 CITGO/SAMAX Motorsport Pontiac Riley with five-time Champ Car race-winner Patrick Carpentier during the test. Carpentier recently announced his intentions to compete alongside Duno in the No. 11 machine for the entire 2007 season, which will be the Canadian's first full-year of Rolex Series competition.
Patrick is entered in two different Daytona Prototypes for Howard Motorsports, the No. 2 Crawford Composites Inc. Pontiac Crawford and the No. 20 Crawford Race Cars LLC Pontiac Crawford, alongside a pair of three-time Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners, Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger. Patrick made her Rolex 24 debut with much fanfare in 2006, sharing the No. 2 Callaway Golf Pontiac Crawford with 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace and sports car aces Allan McNish and Jan Lammers.
Legge, who earned three Toyota Atlantic victories in 2005, will be getting acquainted with a Daytona Prototype for the first time during the test. She has been entered to co-drive the No. 84 Robinson Racing/74 Ranch Resort Pontiac Riley with George Robinson and Paul Dallenbach.
The test will also feature almost every Daytona Prototype team that earned victories during the 2006 season. In addition to the aforementioned No. 01 and No. 10 teams, Patrick Long is entered in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford, Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. are slated to once again share the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley and Colin Braun is listed as the driver of the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley.
Long and 2006 co-driver Mike Rockenfeller earned Rolex Series victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Virginia International Raceway in the Ruby Tuesday machine. He returns to Daytona next week looking to build upon the team's third-place run in the 2006 Rolex 24, where the No. 23 Porsche Crawford was seemingly the fastest car but mechanical problems prevented the team from going to Victory Lane.
After finishing second in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona alongside then-Champ Car teammates Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger, Negri and Patterson return to Daytona with memories of their maiden Rolex Series victory in the nine-hour Rolex Series season finale at Miller Motorsports Park still fresh in their minds. The team has also scheduled a press conference on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET during which the full 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona driver lineup for the No. 60 machine will be unveiled.
Braun, who celebrated his 18th birthday in September, also returns to Daytona with fond memories. Alongside co-driver Jorg Bergmeister, who earned the 2006 Daytona Prototype title, Braun picked up his first career Rolex Series victory in his last visit to the high banks of Daytona in June's Brumos Porsche 250. The victory made Braun the youngest winner of a major league auto race in North America at the age of 17 years, nine months and seven days.
Also entered to test Daytona Prototypes are Jim Matthews and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Pontiac Riley, Harrison Brix and Fabrizio Gollin in the No. 77 Doran Racing Ford Doran, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson aboard the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley, five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, the No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Racing Porsche Riley of David Donohue and Darren Law, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever and 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner Christian Fittipaldi in both the No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford and the No. 51 Cheever Racing Porsche Fabcar, the No. 47 TruSpeed Motorsports Porsche Riley of Rob and Charles Morgan, Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante in both the No. 19 Ford Crawford and the No. 5 Ford Crawford for Finlay Motorsports, Roger Schramm and Jack Baldwin sharing the No. 12 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Riley, the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley of Henri Zogaib and Ian James and the No. 05 Sigalsport BMW Riley in the hands of Matthew Alhadeff and two-time Rolex Series GT champion Bill Auberlen.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is also expected to make his first appearance in a Daytona Prototype during the two-day test. Other notable drivers from the worlds of open-wheel racing and NASCAR may also make appearances on either Monday or Tuesday.
The GT class boasts a 21-car entry list for the test, including five Porsche GT3s from 2005 and 2006 Rolex Series GT team champion and 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners TRG, three Porsches from 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona GT winners Farnbacher Loles Motorsports, and the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 in the hands of team owner Jim Tafel, 18-year-old Eric Lux and 2006 Rolex Series GT runner-up Wolf Henzler.
The GT field will also include the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Randy Pobst, David Haskell and team owner Sylvain Tremblay, and four entries from Team Sahlen including a pair of Pontiac GTOs, one Chevrolet Corvette and one Porsche GT3.
Testing gets underway at 9:00 a.m. ET on both Monday and Tuesday, with an hour-long lunch break scheduled from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 p.m. on both days. Selected drivers will be made available to media in attendance on both days of the test. Monday's afternoon session will conclude at 5:00 p.m. with the checkered flag falling at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.