Many IMS veterans hitting road to Daytona 24

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 -- Many veterans of Indianapolis Motor Speedway races -- both past and present, oval and road course -- will drive in the most prestigious American sports-car endurance race, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, on Jan.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2004 -- Many veterans of Indianapolis Motor Speedway races -- both past and present, oval and road course -- will drive in the most prestigious American sports-car endurance race, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, on Jan. 29-Feb. 1 at Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers from all of the three major races, the Indianapolis 500, United States Grand Prix and Brickyard 400, and major support series races at the Speedway will compete on the road course at Daytona International Speedway in the Grand American Road Racing Association season opener.

The 42nd Rolex 24 starts at 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 31 and ends 24 hours later, at 1 p.m. Sunday. Teams of drivers take shifts to drive around the clock on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona, which incorporates some of the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Speed Channel will provide live coverage from 1-9 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 31 and from 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1.

Sixteen veterans of races at Indy will compete in Daytona Prototypes, the top category in the Rolex Sports Car Series. The Daytona Prototype is a flat-bottomed, closed-cockpit, mid-engine coupe with a complete frame, complete with series-mandated common rear wing.

Among the IMS veterans in the Daytona Prototype category are NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Robby Gordon and Kyle Petty. Stewart and Gordon also have made multiple Indianapolis 500 starts.

2002 Brickyard 400 pole sitter Stewart will team up with Earnhardt and sports car veteran Andy Wallace in the No. 2 Chevrolet Crawford. Johnson will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet Crawford with sports car veterans Butch Leitzinger, David Brule and Elliott Forbes-Robinson.

Gordon will join Indianapolis 500 veteran Stephan Gregoire, sports car standout Doug Goad and female driver Milka Duno in the No. 09 Pontiac Crawford.

Petty will drive the No. 45 Porsche Fabcar with past Indy Porsche Supercup starter Gunnar Jeannette, 79-year-old actor and past Indianapolis 500 team co-owner Paul Newman and sports car veteran Michael Brockman.

Veteran Scott Pruett, who like Stewart and Gordon has raced in the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400, will drive the No. 01 Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype along with Indianapolis 500 veteran Max Papis. Chip Ganassi Racing, the 2003 Indy Racing League(R) IndyCar(R) Series entrant champion, fields the car.

Current Indianapolis 500 star Scott Sharp, the 1996 Indy Racing League champion and 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, is driving the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar Daytona Prototype with five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood, road racing veteran Tommy Riggins and J.C. France. Riggins replaces two-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up Scott Goodyear, who suffered broken ribs Jan. 26 while playing hockey.

Inaugural Freedom 100 participants Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Paul Dana are racing in the Daytona Prototype and GT categories, respectively.

Menards Infiniti Pro SeriesTM veteran Luyendyk, son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will team up with Paul Mears Jr., Mike Borkowski and Nick Ham in the No. 9 Ford Multimatic Daytona Prototype. Borkowski passed his Indy 500 rookie test in 1999 but never has raced at the Speedway.

Dana, a Menards Infiniti Pro Series rookie in 2002, will drive the No. 11 Ferrari 360 GT as part of the JMB Racing USA team.

Three other Indianapolis 500 veterans will race this weekend at Daytona.

Christian Fittipaldi, who finished second in the 1995 Indy 500, will drive the No. 54 Pontiac Doran Daytona Prototype with Forest Barber, Terry Borcheller and Andy Pilgrim.

Didier Theys, who made the last of his three Indy starts in 1993, will share the No. 27 Lexus Doran Daytona Prototype with sports car standouts Fredy Lienhard, Jan Lammers and Marc Goosens.

Pete Halsmer, who started the Indy 500 in 1981-82, will race the No. 24 Corvette in the GT category as part of the Specter Werks/Sports team.

Many past and present competitors from the Porsche Supercup support series races at the Speedway during the United States Grand Prix will open their road racing seasons at Daytona.

The Porsche Supercup series has been a support race to all four of the United States Grand Prix races at Indianapolis since 2000, and many of the Supercup veterans in action this weekend at Daytona will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the United States Grand Prix on June 18-20.

Jorg Bergmeister, winner of a Porsche Supercup race in 2001 at Indianapolis, will join fellow Indy Supercup veteran Timo Bernhard, rising American star Patrick Long and Kevin Buckler in the No. 66 Porsche GT3 RS fielded by The Racers' Group in the GT category. Bernhard finishes second in both Porsche Michelin Supercup races in 2002 at Indianapolis.

The Racers' Group won the Rolex 24 last year, becoming the first GT car to ever capture the event, with Bergmeister and Bernhard among the drivers behind the wheel.

David Donohue, who drove in the Porsche Supercup race in 2001 at Indy, will drive in the Daytona Prototype category in the No. 58 Porsche Fabcar with 2001 Indy Supercup winner Sascha Maasen, Lucas Luhr and Darren Law. Donohue, son of 1972 Indianapolis 500 winner Mark Donohue, holds the Daytona Prototype qualifying record at the track, 116.302 mph during a Grand Am event in July 2003.

Indy Supercup veterans Philipp Peter and Kim Wolfkill also will drive this weekend at Daytona.

Steve Earle, winner of the Ferrari Challenge races during the United States Grand Prix weekends in 2000 and 2001, will race in the No. 33 Maserati Trofeo in the GT category.

-ims-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Milka Duno , Jan Lammers , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Butch Leitzinger , Didier Theys , Robby Gordon , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Pruett , Andy Pilgrim , Jimmie Johnson , Fredy Lienhard , Pete Halsmer , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Doug Goad , Terry Borcheller , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Paul Newman , Gunnar Jeannette , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Tommy Riggins , Mike Borkowski , Paul Mears Jr. , Forest Barber , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi , Michael Brockman , Kim Wolfkill , David Brule , Nick Ham , J.C. Fra , Philipp Peter , Mark Donohue , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing