Jimmie Johnson, Emerson Fittipaldi Get Behind The Wheel During Final Day Of Rolex 24 Testing DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 9, 2005) -- The final day of Rolex 24 At Daytona testing wrapped up on Sunday as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Jimmie Johnson...
Jimmie Johnson, Emerson Fittipaldi Get Behind The Wheel During Final Day Of Rolex 24 Testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 9, 2005) -- The final day of Rolex 24 At Daytona testing wrapped up on Sunday as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Jimmie Johnson shook down his Daytona Prototype for this year's twice-around-the-clock challenge on Feb. 5-6.
Johnson, who will share the driving duties on the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford with Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson, is among the fleet of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers competing in this year's Rolex 24.
Other NASCAR competitors include the past four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions - Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte - as well as two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte, 2003 Pepsi 400 winner Greg Biffle, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray.
In addition to the NASCAR standouts, other notable star drivers from other forms of motorsports competing in the Rolex 24 include Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti, Buddy Rice, Scott Sharp, Stefan Johansson, Scott Dixon, Boris Said and Wally Dallenbach.
For Johnson, it's his second start in America's most prestigious sports car race and he's not surprised about the continued trend of drivers from different disciplines competing in the Rolex 24, the most prestigious sports car race in America.
"There's so many more competitors here this year and a lot of familiar faces for myself," said Johnson, who finished 28th overall in last year's Rolex 24 driving the No. 4 entry for Crawford. "I guess what Tony was able to do last year and with the fun that I had, going back to bragging to all of our friends, everybody decided to come down and play as well.
"I had a great time last year," Johnson added. "I'm just glad to be back. I'm a lot more comfortable in the car than I was last year and I expect to have a lot of fun and hopefully win. The car has a lot of speed. I've got two of the best in the business as teammates inside the car. So as long as I don't mess it up, we'll be in good shape."
Emerson Fittipaldi Gets On Track: Emerson Fittipaldi, a two-time Formula One World Champion and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, tested Sunday in the Kodak Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran, the defending Rolex 24 winner.
Fittipaldi's only races at Daytona International Speedway were a pair of sixth-place finishes in the 1975 and 1976 IROC II and III finales, driving a Camaro on the 2.5-mile oval.
"It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every second. It was good. I felt comfortable in the car. I need more miles in the car. It's been eight years, a long time. My last time in a race car was 1986 at Michigan. It's possible I could race in the Rolex 24. I don't know yet, but it could be."
Fittipaldi recorded 11 laps between Sunday's two sessions.
"I love the Daytona Prototypes category," Fittipaldi said. "I watched the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway race last September, and I wanted to have a test just to see how it feels. Paul Tracy told me yesterday that it was fun to drive, and now I found it out for myself."
Fittipaldi is uncertain if he would compete in this year's Rolex 24.
Next up on the testing calendar is the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series on Jan. 11-Jan. 13. The first Preseason Thunder FanFest featuring the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.