Rolex 24 Winner Pulling Double Duty in Homestead Anthony Lazzaro To Run Rolex Series and IRL On Same Day DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 20, 2002) -- Anthony Lazzaro will be the busiest man at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend when he races ...
Rolex 24 Winner Pulling Double Duty in Homestead Anthony Lazzaro To Run Rolex Series and IRL On Same Day
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 20, 2002) -- Anthony Lazzaro will be the busiest man at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend when he races in both the Indy Racing League 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami and the Rolex Sports Car Series Nextel 250 on Saturday, March 2. Lazzaro will be looking to continue a two-race winning streak in the Rolex Series that includes a SportsRacing Prototype II victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona earlier this month. But before he turns his focus to sports car racing, he must first kickoff the open-wheel racing season in his IRL car.
Several drivers can testify to how strenuous it is to run two races on the same day, but very few have dealt with the challenge of changing not only from an open-wheel Indy car to a prototype sports car, but also from an oval track to a road course within hours.
"The only experience I can really relate it to is back in 1998 in Daytona. I drove two cars - a GT Porsche and CanAm car," said Lazzaro, who currently resides in Hickory, N.C. "I qualified both cars and drove both in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. I ended up doing about 14 hours of the race. I did 10 of the first 12 hours. I was literally going from one car to the next."
However even Lazzaro admits he has not had to switch from oval racing to road racing in such a short amount of time. "The two disciplines are night and day in difference. On an oval, its all about being smooth and precise. Homestead on the oval is very difficult, because its somewhat of a one-line racetrack. If you get out of the groove at all it can really slow your lap down," he commented. "Saying that, we are running though turns three and four in the Rolex Series cars, so we are going to have basically the same difficulties through turns three and four that an IRL car has all the way around the track. But we also have to contend with the infield sections."
Lazzaro, 38, credits his two teams with allowing him to realize his dream of competing in two professional races on the same day. "Both teams that I am racing for - Rand Racing in the Rolex Series and Sam Schmidt in IRL - are both really good teams. I don't have to worry about the preparation of the cars. Everything is going to be ready to go," he remarked.
The busy day of racing will start off for Lazzaro in the #99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special running in the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami at 1 p.m. After racing 300 miles on the Homestead-Miami oval in his Indy car, Lazzaro will switch over to sports car road racing. He will relieve teammate Terry Borcheller behind the wheel of the Rand Racing #8 Nissan-powered Lola midway through the Nextel 250.
Borcheller will be behind the wheel of the Rand Racing Lola when the green flag falls on the Nextel 250 that Saturday at 3:45 p.m. He will qualify the car and run the opening stint of the race in order to give Lazzaro a chance to focus on his IRL race during qualifying and practice, as well as a chance to catch his breath between races.
"For the Rolex Series, I'm going to be depending on Terry, my teammate, for doing a lot of the set up of the car," Lazzaro admitted. "Fortunately we both like the same kind of car, as far as set up is concerned."
But the Nextel 250 will be the first race Borcheller has set up the Rand Racing Lola for the team. Although he has earned two sports car driver championships and 10 Rolex Series class victories over the last two years, the bulk of Borcheller's experience has come in GT and GTS racing. The 2002 season will be his first as a fulltime prototype driver.
Because of his years of prototype racing experience, Lazzaro has previously taken the lead in setting up the Rand Racing Lola while his teammate transitions to prototype racing. But Borcheller, 35, is not worried about taking over the reigns during the Nextel 250. "In the past when the car is good for him, its good for me, and vice versa," said the Phoenix native. "From an engineering stand point, I haven't worked a lot with Risi's engineers, because Anthony had been handling that. Good communication with your engineer is key, but I'm confident I'll be able to find a good setup for Homestead with them."
The Nextel 250 will mark the third Rolex Series race Lazzaro and Borcheller have teamed up in the Rand Racing Lola. The pair burst onto the scene at the final race of the 2001 season, piloting the Lola to a class victory in its first-ever race. The two paired up again to open the 2002 season with a bang, not only winning the SportsRacing Prototype II class again, but also becoming the first SRPII car to earn a spot on the overall podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The duo piloted the Lola, along with team owner Bill Rand and Ralf Kelleners, to a third-place overall finish in the historic race.
To add to the pressure of the first race of his IRL rookie season, Lazzaro now has sports car fans on the edge of their seats waiting to see if he and Borcheller will be able to extend Rand Racing's winning streak or if rival Archangel Motorsport Services, the two-time class champion, will cut the welcome short to the new team. But Lazzaro shows no signs of stress or strain. He just smiles and says, "The way I look at it, why not try to win every single race? Why not have a perfect score? That's what I'm shooting for."
Tickets are available for the Nextel 250, part of 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami, on the Homestead-Miami Speedway website at www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com. They may also be purchased by calling 305-230-RACE or by visiting any Ticketmaster outlet.
Additional information about the Rolex Sports Car Series is available online at www.grand-am.com.