Homestead: Rookie of the Year preview

Grand-Am Rolex Series Rookies Set to Battle for MESCO Rookie of the Year Award DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 7, 2008) -- A total of 17 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 pilots will spend 2008 battling for the...

Grand-Am Rolex Series Rookies Set to Battle for MESCO Rookie of the Year Award

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 7, 2008) -- A total of 17 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 pilots will spend 2008 battling for the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year Award. While the experience levels of the MESCO Rookie of the Year Award candidates vary from up-and-comers to Formula One, none have spent a significant amount of time in the Rolex Series and all will have an equal shot at the $10,000 end-of-the-season prize.

Among those who bring a wealth of racing experience to the Rolex Series for the first time is Bill Lester, who will drive the No. 3 Southard Motorsports Lexus Riley this season. His first full-season ride in a Daytona Prototype, Lester is a stock car veteran with past rides ranging from NASCAR Craftsman Trucks to the Sprint Cup Series.

Another "rookie" with tremendous experience is Ricardo Zonta. The Brazilian has previously driven in Formula One and found success in international sports car racing before joining Krohn Racing to compete in the No. 76 Pontiac Lola.

Other Daytona Prototype competitors eligible for the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year Award include Matt Plumb in the No. 7 Sigalsport Rum Bum BMW Riley; Antonio Garcia in the No. 16 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Pontiac Coyote; Eric Van de Poele in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola; and Brad Jaeger in the No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara.

Ten GT drivers will try to repeat Dirk Werner's double from a season ago, when Werner captured both the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year Award and the GT class driver's championship.

Among the eligible drivers in the GT class are Jan Heylen, who spent last season in the Champ Car World Series and will drive the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3. Also posing a threat for the Rookie of the Year title are some drivers climbing the Grand-Am ranks, including 2007 KONI Challenge Street Tuner champ Jeff Segal in the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 and TRG drivers Ted Ballou in the No. 66 TRG Mitchell Rubber/Marquis Jet Porsche GT3 and Tim George in the No. 67 TRG Gleukos/Monster Cable Porsche GT3, each of who had success in KONI Challenge a season ago.

Others eligible for the MESCO Rookie of the Year Award in the GT class are Diego Alessi in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports P1 Groupe/CAT Sound Pontiac GTO.R; Robert Thorne in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8; Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski in the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports Boardwalk Ferrari/Priority Logistics Ferrari V-8 Crawford GT; and Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R.

The unique format of the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year allows for Daytona Prototype and GT drivers to compete against each other for top rookie honors. Points are based on class finishing position, and are awarded in the same fashion as all of the other Rolex Series championships, with 35 points going to a first-place finisher, 32 for second, 30 for third, 28 for fourth and 26 for fifth, with points decreasing by one for each position from sixth (which pays 25 points) through 30th place (one point). As the Rolex Series GT class will contest 13 events in 2008 as opposed to 14 for the Daytona Prototype class, rookies in the Daytona Prototype class will not earn points beyond the 13th round of the 2008 schedule at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Aug. 31.

To be considered for the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year, drivers must not have competed in more than four Rolex Series Daytona Prototype or GT races in a single season since 2003 and prior to 2007, and the driver's team must display the MESCO Building Solutions decal on its race car.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Antonio Garcia , Lawson Aschenbach , Bill Lester , Robert Thorne , Alessi Diego , Matt Connolly , Jan Heylen , Jeff Segal , Matt Plumb , Brad Jaeger , Dirk Werner , Ted Ballou , Scott Tucker , Ed Zabinski
Teams Krohn Racing , SpeedSource