SCC: Daytona: Season opener preview

Grand-Am Cup Series Ready to Take on Daytona in 2005 Season Opener DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 2, 2005) -- In one of the biggest fields in Grand-Am Cup Series history, more than 70 of today's hottest production cars in two classes will take...

Grand-Am Cup Series Ready to Take on Daytona in 2005 Season Opener

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 2, 2005) -- In one of the biggest fields in Grand-Am Cup Series history, more than 70 of today's hottest production cars in two classes will take to the track for the season-opening Grand-Am Cup 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 4 (SPEED Channel, March 5, 11 a.m. ET).

Nine manufacturers and nearly 20 makes will be represented in the race which promises to give fans the same level of racing excitement they've come to expect from the series.

Last season's Grand Sport (GS) team champions will be back with a new look and sponsor, but the same momentum and motivation from last season. Team Sahlen will field five Porsche 996s with Joe, Wayne and Will Nonnamaker being joined by Joe Sahlen, Eric Lux, Dave White and Joe Masessa piloting the cars. Porsche claimed the GS manufacturer championship with seven wins last season and 20 will compete in Friday's race.

Synergy Racing -- formerly G&W Motorsports -- will field two Porsche 997s. 2003 Rolex Series GT co-champion Brent Martini will join Kelly Collins in the No. 81 machine, while Blake Rosser and David Murry will pilot the No. 80. Last season Collins and Rosser combined to give the Nissan 350Z its first professional win at Mid-Ohio, while Murry had three wins with co-driving with Craig Stanton for TheRaceSite.com Racing.

The No. 17 Porsche 996 of Doncaster Racing will return with Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins at the wheel. The two were victorious in last season's finale at California Speedway. Fiorano Racing will field the No. 91 Porsche 996 with two-time Grand-Am Cup Series champion Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Mark Wilkins sharing the machine.

The Grand-Am Cup 200 will also bring the Grand-Am Cup Series debut of the Ford Mustang GT. Multimatic Motorsports will field two "pony cars," as 2001 Grand-Am Cup GS I champion Scott Maxwell will join fellow Canadian David Empringham in the No. 55 Mustang and James Gue and Gunnar Jeannette will pilot the No. 05 machine. Blackforest Motorsports will also field the No. 5 Mustang for Tom Nastasi and Ian James.

With one victory at Mont-Tremblant last season, Powell Motorsport will return in 2005 with a two-car effort. Devon Powell and Don Knowles will co-pilot the No. 11 Cadillac CTS-V, while Normand Guindon and Marc Antoine Camirand will share the No. 07 machine.

Anchor Racing will field three BMW M3s this weekend, led by 2004 Rolex Series GT runner-up Boris Said, who will join Anders Hainer in the No. 99. The two combined for a victory last season at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Unitech Racing. John Munson and James Sofronas will pilot the No. 92 BMW, while Rick Skelton and Joe Foster will share the No. 93.

Automatic Racing and BGB Motorsports will also return in 2005. Automatic will field two BMW M3s, as Jep Thornton and David Russell will pilot the No. 09 BMW M3, and David Riddle and Kris Wilson will share the No. 90. BGB Motorsports' No. 38 Porsche 996 will be piloted by Guy Cosmo and Mark Plummer.

Last year's Sport Touring (ST) co-champions David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay will look to defend their title in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. The duo gave Mazda its first professional race win last season at Phoenix, and hope to give the manufacturer another strong season. SpeedSource will field four other Mazdas with Glenn Bocchino and Roger Foo sharing the No. 65, Marcelo Abello and Charles Espenlaub piloting the No. 66 machine, Rich Walker and Jose Armengol sharing the No. 67 and Scott Schlesinger and Jeff Altenburg driving the No. 68.

Another SpeedSource built Mazda -- the No. 49 Southpaw Racing of Frank Howard and Marc Eaton -- was quickest in class during Daytona testing earlier this month and looks to contend for the Grand-Am Cup 200 ST title. Southpaw Racing will also field the No. 50 with Mike Halpin and Michael Crowe.

ST runner-up Turner Motorsport will also return in 2005 with a two-car ST effort and a new entry in the GS class. Will Turner and Don Salama will again pilot the No. 95 BMW 330i, while Tim Pappas and Steve Pfeffer will share the No. 97 machine. 2004 Rolex Series GT Champion Bill Auberlen will be joined by Justin Marks in Turner's No. 96 BMW in the GS class.

Last season's ST manufacturer champions Acura will be well-represented in this year's field with two models. The No. 27 Bill Fenton Motorsports Acura RSX-S of Eric Curran and Bob Endicott will be joined by a sister car, as Bob Beede, Mike Liebl and Bill Fenton will co-drive the No. 29 RSX. The Acura TSX makes its Grand-am Cup Series debut, with Peter Schwartzott and Michael Thornley piloting the No. 74 Kensai Racing Acura TSX. Stewart Motorsports will field a pair of TSXs, with Anthony Serra piloting the No. 86, and Tom Stewart and Chip Herr sharing the No. 98 machine.

Three Powell Motorsport-built Chevrolet Cobalts will also hit the track for their Grand-Am Cup Series debut this weekend. The No. 32 Franklin American Mortgage Cobalt of Bo Roach and Christian Kimball, the No. 00 Georgian Bay Motorsports Cobalt of Jim and Jamie Holtom and the No. 48 WTF Engineering Cobalt of Ed Magner and Toni Seiler will all be looking to claim victory in the ST class.

The weekend's on-track activities get underway on Thursday with Rolex Series practice beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET and running for 90 minutes. The Grand-Am Cup Series machines will see their first practice action from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by another Rolex Series practice from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. At 2:45 p.m., the Grand-Am Cup Series has another 45-minute practice session, followed by Rolex Series Daytona Prototype qualifying from 3:45 to 4:00 p.m. The first round of Rolex Series GT qualifying takes place from 4:15 to 4:30 p.m., with the 15-minute Grand-Am Cup Series ST class qualifying session set for 4:45 p.m., followed by Grand-Am Cup GS qualifying from 5:15 to 5:30 p.m. The day's on-track activities wind down with Rolex Series night practice from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Friday's sessions will get underway at 9:30 a.m. ET with a 45-minute Rolex Series practice session, followed by the final Grand-Am Cup Series practice before the Grand-Am Cup 250 scheduled to run from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. >From 11:40 a.m. to 12:00 Noon, Rolex Series cars that qualified higher than the 31st position will have an opportunity to improve their grid position in a final qualifying session, with the final, 45-minute Rolex Series practice before the Rolex 24 At Daytona scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 p.m.

The Grand-Am Cup Series Grand-Am Cup 200 will take the green flag Friday at 2:15 p.m. The race is 200-miles/57-laps or three hours. The race will be tape-delayed on SPEED Channel March 5 at 11 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP or by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

Live Timing & Scoring data from all sessions and audio updates throughout the race will be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.

-garra-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Boris Said , David Murry , Bill Auberlen , Guy Cosmo , Bob Beede , Scott Maxwell , Ian James , Devon Powell , David Haskell , David Empringham , Gunnar Jeannette , James Gue , Tom Nastasi , Justin Marks , Tim Pappas , Eric Curran , Michael Thornley , Steve Pfeffer , Will Turner , Toni Seiler , Charles Espenlaub , Jeff Altenburg , Tom Stewart , Don Salama , Dave Lacey , Craig Stanton , Brent Martini , Scott Schlesinger , Greg Wilkins , Jep Thornton , Rick Skelton , Blake Rosser , Chip Herr , Marcelo Abello , Don Knowles , Bill Fenton , Mark Wilkins , James Sofronas , Bob Endicott , Mark Plummer , John Munson , Glenn Bocchino , Dave White , Rich Walker , Anders Hainer , Jose Armengol , Normand Guindon , Bo Roach , Christian Kimball , Eric Lux , Joe Sahlen , Mike Halpin , David Riddle , Joe Foster , Kris Wilson , Anthony Serra , David Russell
Teams Turner Motorsport , Team Sahlen , Multimatic Motorsports , Automatic Racing , SpeedSource