It's go time for the Daytona 24

The world descends upon Daytona for the first round of the new merged sportscar series.

Daytona Beach, FL – The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will display its product for the first time this weekend in the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The excitement is in the air and a large crowd of fans, media and race teams are looking forward to the debut event. Some 67 teams have checked in at the famed track to begin preparations for the grueling round-the-clock event.

#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

Photo by: Trevor Horn

On a chilly Wednesday morning, the 67 cars were rolled out for a group photo to the delight of teams and photographers. On-track action commences on Thursday morning.

Until now, sports car racing had been split into two organizations – the American Le Mans Series and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Sensing a need to present one formidable product, the two organizations agreed to a merger months ago and since that momentous occasion, the consolidated management team has been working to pull all the ends together, churning out an impressive product.

Four classes will be featured and will be led by the headline product, the Prototypes, to include the Daytona Prototypes from the Rolex Series and the P2 class from the ALMS. The P class will be complemented by the Prototype Challenge Class (PC), the GT Le Mans Class (GTLM) and the GT Daytona Class (GTD).

For the Rolex 24, the 67 entries include 18 P teams, 9 PCs, 11 GTLMs and 29 GTDs, making it the largest field in several years. The record high number is 82 in 1984 and the low of 44 was reached twice, 2003 and 2010. A year ago, 56 teams took the green flag.

#912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR
#912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR

Photo by: Trevor Horn

Adding excitement to this weekend’s race is the return of the Chevrolet Corvette and the SRT Viper, renewing a rivalry not seen at Daytona in more than a decade. The ORECA Viper GTS-R raced to victory in 2000 with drivers Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy. A year later, Corvette took the overall victory with Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell, Franck Freon and Chris Kneifel behind the wheel. Finishing fourth overall and second in class was a sister Corvette driven by the father-and-son team of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and two others.

For the 2014 edition of the Rolex 24, Chevrolet has rolled out its new Corvette C7.R, a car that was unveiled at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show just a few days ago.

Two drivers, Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett, lead in overall victories with five each and while Haywood has retired, Pruett hopes to move to head of class by picking up his sixth win on Sunday.

A year ago Pruett led his team to victory with co-drivers Charlie Kimball, Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya. For the new edition, Pruett will be joined by Rojas, NASCAR star Jamie McMurray and emerging open-wheel star Sage Karam. And the vaunted Chip Ganassi Racing entry will be powered by a Ford EcoBoost engine, which represents a switch from a BMW powerplant.

Throughout the 24-hour event, numerous scenarios and drama will be played out, and it is anyone’s guess who will be crowned champion come Sunday afternoon. One known winner, however, will be the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which fully anticipates a bright future.

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About this article
Series IMSA
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Corvette Racing
Article type Preview
Tags daytona, featured, jennings, rolex 24, tudor, tusc