Daytona Prototype Testing at Daytona - Day 1
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is testing Nov. 11-12 at Daytona International Speedway, sporting the new 2009-specification Pirelli P Zero tires. Here you will find Daytona Prototype news on the drivers and teams participating in the test. Times will not be released either day.
Wallace Happy With Childress-Howard Effort (Updated Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.)
Childress-Howard Motorsports tested at Daytona International Speedway for the first time on Tuesday, with Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay sharing time behind the wheel of the No. 4 Pontiac Crawford in preparation for the January 24-25 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
"I think it's come quite far," said Wallace of the effort, which had its lone outing in the Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International in August. Wallace finished 19th, co-driving with Andy Lally.
"The car is very well balanced," Wallace added. "I'm very happy with the engine we've got in. This is a new one from Watkins Glen. We've had a little bit of problem getting the car started, which is a shame, but other than that, it feels really good. We've had a few people working very hard in Denver (North Carolina) since Watkins Glen, trying to improve every part of the car. I think we have. We're looking forward to doing the whole season, but it's a bit of a sting in the toe to have the Rolex 24 as the first race of the season. If it was halfway through the season, you'd know the car a lot better by then. With a new car, you've got to find out exactly what it likes."
Wallace is sharing time with Rob Finlay in the updated Crawford.
"I've got a relationship with the Crawfords from a few years ago," Finlay said. "When this opportunity arose, it was a great fit. I've always wanted to get back into their chassis, and the team is first class. It's fantastic."
Finlay is happy with the updated Crawford.
"They are two completely different cars," Finlay said. "This one is really good, but it's completely different. We're going through our first day trying to get everything working together, but overall, I'm really pleased."
Wallace won the Rolex 24 with TWR Jaguar in 1990 and with Dyson Racing in 1997 and 1999. He's also come close several times - including 2001, when his Dyson entry broke with three and a half hours remaining while leading by 27 laps. In 2004, the Crawford team of Wallace, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke while leading with only 17 minutes remaining.
"I've got a few races I could have won, but a lot of people have got those," Wallace said. "Today, this Roles Series is very competitive. You can't go out on the track and get P-1 right away - you've got to work at it.
"It seems like just yesterday that the GTPs were here rushing around," Wallace added. "But the lap times of these Daytona Prototypes are not too far away from those lap times, and those cars had more horsepower, more ground effects, everything. The Daytona Prototypes are very fast and they're great to drive. It's special. When you walk around the paddock and see the depth of the teams, every year it gets better."
Wallace was also pleased with the new Pirelli tires.
"They're absolutely wonderful," Wallace said. "You can stand on it anywhere on the track and there's little wheelspin. They've done a real good job."
Now, Wallace is looking forward to drive for Richard Childress for the first time at Daytona.
"It's a big thrill to be driving Mr. Childress' car," Wallace said. "He wants to get serious about sports car racing, and I've been the lucky recipient to get the car ready and ultimately try to win races. I think we'll be right up there where we need to be. I'm really, really happy to be back here. I miss not doing to the whole season, and I'm looking forward to this race."
Shank Not Changing Recipes (Updated Tuesday at 3 p.m.)
Last year, Michael Shank Racing ran the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a new package - an updated Riley chassis while switching to Ford engines. Don't look for many changes this year, especially on the No. 60 entry co-driven by Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson.
"We have the same recipe," Negri said. "The recipe of the cake was working pretty good, so we kept everything the same. That's good, because we can develop from what we had last year. Everything with the test is going great, as always. The team does a fantastic job. We have a real good car and it's very competitive. We're experimenting with the new Pirelli tires, which are really good. They're almost the same as the old ones. They give us a lot of confidence that we can do the same in 2009 - hopefully, be on the pole and finish right up there."
After finishing second overall in the 2006 Rolex 24, Negri won the pole for last year's race and joined Patterson, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal for a sixth-place finish.
Notes from the Paddock (Updated Tuesday at 1 p.m.)
Jeff Braun, former engineer with Krohn Racing, is on site helping out AIM Autosport with its new No. 51 entry ... Among the drivers on site pursuing opportunities include Terry Borcheller, Marc Goossens, Shane Lewis, Anthony Lazzaro and Nelson Philippe ... Penske Racing took an early lunch break to change an engine ... Andy Wallace reported that they are having trouble starting up the Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, but other than that, the car is running fine. Also seen in the paddock - Michaele Jourdain and Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Sr.
Jeff Ward to Test With Spirit of Daytona
Another motorcycle legend is testing to race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Seven-time AMA motocross champion Jeff Ward is testing with the Spirit of Daytona team this week, joined by Scott Russell and Guy Cosmo. The Scottish-born Ward was inducted into the motorcycle hall of fame in 1999. This would be his second start in the Rolex 24. Ward, who now lives in Newport Beach, Calif., drove the Ford Keiler KII in the 1997 event, finishing 52nd in a World Sports Car co-driven by Owen Trinkler and Roberto Quinanilla.
The No. 09 Porsche Coyote is sporting new updated Coyote bodywork for the team, still carrying the black and gold colors raced by Cheever Racing this past season. The team is expecting delivery of a new Coyote in the very near future.
Ward retired from motocross after winning seven championships and 57 races. He went to the Indy Racing League, winning the 2002 race at Texas Motor Speedway, edging Al Unser Jr. in what was the closest finish in IRL history. Ward finished sixth in the standings in 1998, winning the pole at Phoenix International Raceway. He was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year that season, finishing third. He also finished second in the 1999 Indy 500 and was fourth in open-wheel racing's most prestigious event in 2000.
His last open-wheel race was the 2005 Indianapolis 500. Ward then returned to two-wheeled competition in the new AMA Supermoto division, winning the championship in 2004 and 2006. He also was a two-time Supermoto winner in the X-Games, winning earlier this year at age 47.