SCC: Daytona Test: Annual Test Days preview

Daytona Test Days Entry List Features Past Champions in Sports Cars, NASCAR and Open-Wheel Racing DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 4, 2006) -- The 2006 North American racing season gets underway this weekend, as champions from sports car, NASCAR...

Daytona Test Days Entry List Features Past Champions in Sports Cars, NASCAR and Open-Wheel Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 4, 2006) -- The 2006 North American racing season gets underway this weekend, as champions from sports car, NASCAR and open-wheel racing will converge at Daytona International Speedway from January 5-7 in preparation for the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona, the opening round and the crown jewel of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.

The entry list features all previous Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champions, and provides a sneak preview of many driver lineups for North America's most prestigious endurance race, which will take place on the weekend of January 26-29, 2005. The list comprises 33 Daytona Prototypes and 42 GT machines for a total of 75 race cars, which are 13 more than competed in the 2005 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Topping the list are defending Daytona Prototype co-champions Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, who are slated to share the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley this weekend with Emmanuel Collard, with whom they co-drove to victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona last year. The SunTrust team has also entered Australian open-wheel racing standout Ryan Briscoe for the test.

Scott Pruett and Max Papis, the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champions, have been reunited in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley alongside Mexican hotshoe Luis Diaz. Diaz and Pruett co-drove to three victories in the 2005 Rolex Series season and were runners-up to Angelelli and Taylor in the championship, while Papis drove a partial season last year with Krohn Racing/TRG in the Rolex Series.

Terry Borcheller, who claimed the inaugural Daytona Prototype driver championship in 2003, is also entered for Test Days in a new ride for 2006. Borcheller will co-drive the No. 77 Kodak/Feeds The Need Ford Doran for Doran Racing with Harrison Brix, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Forest Barber. Borcheller and Barber earned the overall victory in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona with co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Andy Pilgrim, both of whom are also entered for Test Days.

Fittipaldi has joined Rolex Series newcomers Cheever Racing, and will share the team's No. 39 Lexus Crawford with team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever and Canadian open-wheel star Patrick Carpentier at Daytona Test Days. Pilgrim, meanwhile, joins a powerhouse lineup that includes Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Jan Magnussen in the No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R in the extremely deep GT class.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona has attracted superstars from all over the racing world, and based on the entry list for Daytona Test Days, the 2006 rendition will be no exception. After coming close to victory in each of the past two years, reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has been entered for Test Days to co-drive the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports with past Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger.

Howard-Boss Motorsports has also entered 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace to drive the team's No. 2 Pontiac Crawford at Test Days. Wallace retired from NEXTEL Cup Series competition at the conclusion of the 2005 season, but will take a step closer to making his first-ever appearance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend.

Other NASCAR standouts entered for Test Days include two-time Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie and NEXTEL Cup rising star Casey Mears. LaJoie is slated to share the No. 3 PAP-Parts BMW Riley with Shane Lewis for Southard Motorsports, while Mears has been entered in the No. 02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley alongside Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar champion, and 2005 IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Wheldon head a list of open-wheel racing superstars entered for Test Days. The list also includes 2003 Champ Car World Series champion Paul Tracy, who will share the No. 6 Fusion/Graydon Elliott/Mears Motor Coach Lexus Riley with Michael Shank Racing teammates Kenny Wilden, Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr.

Multi-time Champ Car and IndyCar race-winner Dario Franchitti has been entered for Test Days as well, and will co-drive the No. 7 SAMAX/Tuttle Team Racing Pontiac Riley with car owner Brian Tuttle, three-time Rolex Series race winner Milka Duno and his brother, sports car ace Marino Franchitti. Mexican open-wheel racing superstar Adrian Fernandez will make his first public appearance behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype at Test Days, as he joins the Rolex Series ranks as owner and driver of the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley. Like Franchitti, Fernandez is also a multiple-time race winner in both Champ Car and IndyCar competition.

Further strengthening the IndyCar contingent is a pair of race winners, including another Indianapolis 500 winner. Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 champ, and Bryan Herta have been entered to co-drive the No. 28 Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford with team owner Rob Finlay and Canadian racer Michael Valiante.

The foursome will be part of a two-car program for Finlay Motorsports, with Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley--who co-drove to victory in the 2005 season finale at Mexico City--slated for the No. 19 Ford Crawford. The team also announced that another former IndyCar race winner, Alex Barron, will also compete for the team in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, although he does not currently appear on the entry list for Test Days.

Joining Tracy from the Champ Car World Series ranks at Daytona Test Days are 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser and rising Champ Car stars Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger. Vasser will team with Alex Gurney, Bob Stallings and Rocky Moran Jr. in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, while Allmendinger and Wilson--who are Champ Car teammates with RuSPORT--are slated to share the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley with Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. with Michael Shank Racing.

The Daytona Test Days entry list features 15 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners including the aforementioned Papis, Andy Wallace, Leitzinger, Taylor, Angelelli, Collard, Fittipaldi, Barber, Borcheller and Pilgrim. The Daytona Prototype field at Test Days will also include Rob Dyson, who earned an overall victory in 1997 and will share the No. 16 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford with his son, Chris Dyson, as well as sports car greats Oliver Gavin and Guy Smith for Howard-Boss Motorsports.

The winningest driver in Rolex 24 At Daytona history, Hurley Haywood, is also returning for Test Days. The five-time winner heads up a two-car assault for Brumos Racing, and Haywood will share the team's No. 59 Porsche Fabcar with JC France and NASCAR Whelen Modified star Ted Christopher. Christopher is also entered in the team's No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar with David Donohue, Darren Law and Porsche factory pilot Sascha Maassen.

Jorg Bergmeister, who earned an overall victory in 2003, rounds out the field of former winners slated to compete in the Daytona Prototype class. Bergmeister will co-drive the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley with team owner Tracy Krohn, Sweden's Nic Jonsson and 17-year-old Colin Braun.

The GT field features a trio of former Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winners. Joining Pilgrim are 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner Johnny O'Connell and 1996 winner Jim Pace. O'Connell will share the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air/Alpine Bagel/iRise Pontiac GTO.R with Andy Lally, Marc Bunting and RJ Valentine, with Pace set to co-drive the No. 68 TRG Porsche GT3 with Jim Lowe and Revere Greist.

The four drivers who co-drove to the GT class victory in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona--Wolf Henzler, Shawn Price, Dominik Farnbacher and Pierre Ehret--are all entered for Test Days, albeit in different cars. Henzler, who also started from the GT class pole last year, will co-drive the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 with Robin Liddell and Johannes van Overbeek as part of a three-car effort for the Tafel operation.

Price is scheduled to share the No. 73 Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 with Mike Cawley, Chad McQueen and team owner Jim Tafel, with Eric Lux, Charles Espenlaub, Andrew Davis and second-generation racer Graham Rahal set for the team's No. 74 Porsche GT3.

Farnbacher and Ehret are set to return to Daytona with Farnbacher Loles/Orbit Racing, and will co-drive the No. 83 Porsche GT3 with American Mike Fitzgerald and Germany's Marc Basseng. Farnbacher Loles will also field a second entry at Test Days, with Philipp Peter, Dirk Werner, Dieter Quester and Toto Wolf entered in the team's No. 82 Red Bull Porsche.

Another team of powerful Porsches to watch will be Synergy Racing, which has entered four GT3s for Test Days. Co-driving the No. 80 Synergy Porsche will be David Murry and Leh Keen, while Steve and Danny Marshall will share the team's No. 81 machine with Hal Prewitt and John Pew. The team's other two entries in partnership with Team Seattle will be co-driven by Don Kitch Jr., Chris Pennington, Don Gagne and Chris Pallis in the No. 86 Microsoft/Who's Calling Porsche GT3, and David Gaylord, Will Diefenbach, and Wes and Ken Hill in the No. 87 Strobe Data/Kid's Country Porsche GT3.

TPC Racing has entered three Porsche GT3s for Test Days, with Michael Levitas, Randy Pobst, Ian Baas and Spencer Pumpelly set to share the team's familiar No. 36 TPC Superchargers machine. Dave Stewart, Rob Stewart III, Bob Gilbert, Gary Stewart and Tony Ave have been entered to drive both the team's No. 92 and No. 93 Apple Automotive Group Porsches.

Team Sahlen also returns with a three-car entry of Porsche GT3s, with Joe, Will and Wayne Nonnamaker joining Wes Allen and Jim Michaelian in the No. 43 Team Sahlen GT3. The Nonnamaker trio is also entered in the team's No. 41 machine with the No. 42 entry to be announced.

While the GT field will once again feature several Porsche GT3s, which have had considerable success in the past on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, the BMW M3 has also proven to be quite competitive and four have been entered for Test Days.

Leading the BMW brigade will be the No. 05 Alhadeff Motorsports/Motul/enVista M3 in the hands of Matthew Alhadeff, Bill Auberlen, Tom Milner and Justin Marks for Sigalsport BMW. The team has also entered the No. 04 Motul/enVista/Guarneros Racing Wear BMW M3 to be co-driven by Gene Sigal and Peter MacLeod.

Matt Connolly Motorsports is fielding the other pair of M3s, with Gerald Van Uitert, Matt Connolly, Carlos de Quesada and Rick and Tom Sutherland slated for the team's No. 21 BMW and Brian O'Shaughnessy, Bill Cotter, Tom Malloy and Jacob Shalit in the No. 24 BMW M3.

The 2006 Rolex Series season will see the emergence of several new GT machines, and one of the most intriguing might be the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 that will be co-driven at Test Days by Sylvain Tremblay and 2005 Grand-Am Cup Series Street Tuner (ST) champion David Haskell. Both drivers and the SpeedSource team have had considerable success in the Grand-Am Cup Series, as evidenced by the fact that Tremblay is the winningest driver in Grand-Am Cup history with Haskell just behind.

Daytona Test Days will also include several test sessions for the Grand-Am Cup Series. On-track activity for both the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 6 and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 7. All sessions are open to the media, while the public is invited to view the proceedings from the Oldfield Grandstand, which is accessible through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.

The entry list for the 44th Rolex 24 At Daytona will be announced in mid-January.

-garra-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing