Pontiac Begins Rolex Series Tests With All-Star Cast Daytona Prototype and GT Race Cars Piloted By Rolex Series Regulars and Motorsports Stars at Daytona; Pontiacs Post Best Times on Thursday DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Competitors are readying for...
Pontiac Begins Rolex Series Tests With All-Star Cast
Daytona Prototype and GT Race Cars Piloted By Rolex Series Regulars and Motorsports Stars at Daytona; Pontiacs Post Best Times on Thursday
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Competitors are readying for the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series at Daytona International Speedway with Test Days at Daytona beginning this morning. A record 75 race cars were entered in the event with the majority of them seeing action at the famous Florida raceway as teams took measurements and made adjustments in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 14 other 2006 Rolex Series races.
Taking place on January 28-29, the Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the world's most famous round-the-clock endurance races, taxing drivers and machinery alike. Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes (DP) have won the last two Rolex 24 At Daytona races and were also manufacturers champions both years. Now Pontiacs - both DP and GT - are returning to the track and recording the day's best lap times with a star-studded lineup for the endurance race and beyond.
"In addition to our Pontiac drivers from last year, we have several new teams and drivers joining us for the Rolex 24 and the rest of the season," said Jim Lutz, Rolex Series program manager for Pontiac. "For the Rolex 24, we'll have 16 Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototypes competing as well as our two Pontiac GTO.Rs in the GT class. NASCAR stars Tony Stewart, Boris Said and Rusty Wallace will drive for the Howard-Boss Motorsports team in the DP class. The team is testing here with IndyCar driver Danica Patrick as well. If she decides to race a Pontiac, she'll be a welcome addition to an already talented lineup."
Pontiac's talented lineup may have a tougher time achieveing their desired results this season, as Grand American has required that 75 pounds of ballast weight be added to all cars with 5.0 L engines (this includes Pontiac, Ford and BMW). 2005 drivers co-champion Max Angelelli (who won the title with Wayne Taylor in the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley and were team champions as well) noted the weight difference but still posted fast times in the first day of practice.
"The extra weight is a huge challenge for us - you can feel it during braking and the car is lower," said Angelelli. "It's going to be tougher this year - Lexus powered cars weren't added weight. But we have a brand-new car and we will push as hard as last year."
The SunTrust team ran fast but the team of the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley ran faster. The best lap time of the day was set by Alex Gurney at 1:45.265 seconds; the #4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger were second at 1:45.282 seconds followed by the SunTrust team at 1:45.305 seconds.
"Obviously we're starting it off right; we have some experience now and we're ready to run a full season," said Gurney. "This is just practice so our speed and time is not a big deal, especially going into a race like the Rolex 24, but it's nice to think that we may have a shot at pole for the big race. I think the weight added will definitely hurt us in terms of longevity of tires - we'll see how it works out once we get the car set up."