Rolex Roundup: February 10, 2005 News, Notes & Quotes From The Rolex Sports Car Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 10, 2005) -- All nine of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who participated in last weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona--some...
Rolex Roundup: February 10, 2005
News, Notes & Quotes From The Rolex Sports Car Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 10, 2005) -- All nine of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who participated in last weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona--some of which were competing in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series for the first time--acquitted themselves well, with six of the NASCAR superstars placing inside the top-nine positions.
To a man, all of the NASCAR drivers were enthusiastic about the possibility of returning to the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the future, with some drivers expressing an interest in additional Rolex Series appearances as their schedule allows. In 2005, the Rolex Series will run as companion events to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup during the Pepsi 400 weekend at Daytona International Speedway on June 29-July 2 and the annual NEXTEL Cup weekend at Watkins Glen International on August 11-14. Additionally, the Rolex Series has events during NEXTEL Cup off-weekends at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 3-5 and at Barber Motorsports Park on July 29-31.
"It's just so much fun to come here and be in a situation that's totally different than what we have all year, to know that you've got to share the same car with two other guys," said Tony Stewart, who co-drove the No. 20 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. "The Crawford family, they do such a great job, and CITGO and Boss, to have these guys come together and make this package complete is just an unbelievable deal. One of the guys on the team talked about how disappointing it was to not win the race and I said, 'Well, what would we do next year if we won?' If it was that easy, they'd call it winning, not racing."
Stewart and his world class co-drivers Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers were battling for the lead with the eventual race-winning No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley team of Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard with slightly more than two hours to go when a gearbox failure ended their bid. After lengthy repairs, the team rebounded to finished third. It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 heartbreaker for Stewart and Wallace, who came within 20 minutes of victory alongside co-driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. when a suspension failure removed their car from that race, in which they also finished third in the Daytona Prototype class.
"Situations like what we had this year and last year, all that does is when you do win the event, it makes it that much more gratifying. The Crawford family will never ever give up trying to win this race. I told them, 'I'd drive for you until the day I die or you fire me, one or the other.' I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
Stewart's fellow NASCAR star and Howard-Boss Motorsports teammate for the weekend, Jimmie Johnson, was also eager for another invitation to race the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford. He and co-drivers Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger finished second in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"Do I get invited again?" Johnson asked after the race. "I had a blast. It's a great way to start the season and it's so much fun to come down and meet all the different drivers and different champions, and to spend time with EFR and Butch. The Crawfords make racing so much fun. It's a family-run team, and they work very hard. All the crew guys are a lot of fun to be around. It's just a great time. I'll definitely be back."
Despite a tough outing last weekend that led to a 27th place finish overall and a 15th place result in the Daytona Prototype category, the past two NEXTEL Cup champions--Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth--also enjoyed their experience co-driving the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic along with their Roush Racing NASCAR teammate Greg Biffle and Canadian racer Scott Maxwell for Multimatic Motorsports. Both are hungry for another opportunity.
"I'd want to do it again whenever I could," Kenseth said. "I'd love to run Watkins Glen. I'd love to do it again next year."
"It was a blast and just a chance to do something for the first time," Busch added. "Now we can build on this for the future. We'll see how things progress. I'd love to have another opportunity."
Fresh from his victory in the 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona, No. 10 SunTrust Racing car owner and co-driver Wayne Taylor of Altamonte Springs, Fla. will tour the Eustis, Fla.-based Camp Boggy Creek on Wednesday, February 16. Camp Boggy Creek--for Florida's seriously ill children--is a proud charity of the Grand American Road Racing Association, and has been a popular stop for many Rolex Series drivers.
NO REST FOR THE WEARY
With the 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona now in the books, many drivers, teams and series officials are looking forward to getting some rest prior to the Grand Prix of Miami--Round 2 of the 2005 Rolex Series schedule--on the weekend of March 3-5. For 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champions Scott Pruett and Max Papis, however, they still have some unfinished business to attend to at Daytona International Speedway this month.
Both drivers have been selected to participate in the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series, and the first of the series' four rounds is slated for Friday, February 18 on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval. IROC testing began on Wednesday at the "World Center of Racing," and Pruett and Papis will have several opportunities for track time alongside their fellow champions from NASCAR, Champ Car, IndyCar and the World of Outlaws prior to the IROC season-opener.
The duo--who co-drove the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to the 2004 Daytona Prototype driver and team championships--will contest the four-race Crown Royal IROC Series, in addition to the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series calendar. Pruett gets back behind the wheel of the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and Papis returns to the cockpit of the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.
TEAM SEATTLE RAISES $368,900 IN ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA
In its ninth year of raising money for Seattle Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Team Seattle raised a total of $368,900, far exceeding any previous year. Team Seattle consisted of the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Don Kitch Jr., Don Gagne, Chris Pallis and Don Pickering, and the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Mae Van Wijk, David Murry, David Gaylord and Rod Emory.
"This is way beyond the most we've ever raised," said Kitch, who founded the program. "The most we had raised before this year was $260,000, so we're $100,000 over that easy. We couldn't have picked a better group to do it with than these guys at Synergy Racing."
The No. 80 team finished 14th in the GT class and 29th overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, while the No. 81 team came home 21st in class and 39th overall.
"I'm just really happy to have the chance to work with these guys," Van Wijk said. "They're the best guys I've worked with so far. I know by far this is one of the best teams as far as friendship that came together this year. I'm also happy to be a part of being able to raise some money for the hospital and help other people too."
The cars completed a total of 1,069 laps, and $527 was donated for each lap, the largest per-lap amount since the program's inception in 1997.
HITCHIN' A RIDE
As part of the build up for the Grand Prix of Miami weekend, co-drivers Andy Wallace and Milka Duno will be providing media rides in a two-seat version of their No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. Wallace and Duno have proven adept at finding the quick way around the Homestead-Miami Speedway road circuit as evidenced by the fact that they won each of the previous two Rolex Series visits to the South Florida facility. The media rides will take place on Thursday, March 3 from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., and will precede the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series' "Indy Experience" two-seater rides, which are scheduled to run from 12:00 Noon to 1:30 p.m.