DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 4, 2001- A brilliant Millennium yellow Corvette C5-R again proved why it is America's performance icon by winning the overall title at the 39th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Daytona International Speedway. ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 4, 2001- A brilliant Millennium yellow Corvette C5-R again proved why it is America's performance icon by winning the overall title at the 39th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Daytona International Speedway. Members of the Corvette family, from Brand Manager Rick Baldick to the 300-plus Corvette owners packing the infield, joined a whole host of GM employees to watch as Corvette #2 driver Ron Fellows crossed the finish-line in victory. Fellows and teammates Franck Freon, Chris Kniefel and Johnny O'Connell completed the 656 laps (2335.36 miles) through five rain squalls during the 24-hour ordeal. Pride shared by Corvette owners around the world
"Somewhere Zora Duntov (often referred to as the founding father of the Corvette) is smiling right now," said Baldick, "as are all the Chevrolet and General Motors employees - and more than a million Corvette owners worldwide. This overall victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona signifies that the 48-year heritage is stronger than ever." Those in attendance agreed that this victory did more to enrich the breed than any other motorsports performance in the history of America's renowned sports car.
"Chevrolet is a company of 'car guys' that makes vibrant products that people can get excited about," said Dave Hill, Chief Engineer for Corvette. "We are privileged to have the support from General Motors, Pratt & Miller and our sponsors that allows us to campaign the Corvette - America's performance icon - on the race course. This is what we've enjoyed for many years, but none more than today."
The #2 Corvette ran a near flawless race, taking the lead of the 79-car field at the end of the 22nd hour and held on with relative ease at the end of the race.
The second Team Corvette entry finished in fourth position and second in class completing 642 laps or 2285.52 miles. Mechanical gremlins with rear half-shafts required two extensive pit visits. The team, with endurance veterans Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins, along with Winston Cup stars Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr., fought their way back to the front closing on the third place car in the waning laps. A mere two laps kept the #3 car off the overall podium in the 24 hour classic.
"Well, I'm proud to have made it to the end of a great race," said Dale Earnhardt. "It was a privilege to be able to drive with these guys and I can't say enough about the Pratt & Miller team that prepares these cars and the Corvette guys. All-in-all this was a lot of fun - to drive with Dale (Jr.), Kelly and Andy."