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Vasser energized for Rolex 24
Jimmy Vasser in 2002
For Jimmy Vasser, this is his Super Bowl weekend.

The 43-year-old will be driving the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing Pontiac with Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Rolex 24 at Daytona, the season opener on the 2009 Grand-Am schedule, is the Super Bowl of sports car racing in North America and kicks off a busy month of racing at Daytona International Speedway in Florida - a stretch that concludes with NASCAR's Super Bowl, the Daytona 500.

"It has great history'' said Vasser, who will be driving for a team that features crew chief and Pleasant Valley native Link Smith, and crew member and Dutchess County resident Glenn Feather.

"The 24 hours of Daytona is one of those big races around the world, similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona 500 and Indy 500. There are only a handful of races that have that history. It's a great honor to be in the race and to be invited by the team.''

A decade ago, Vasser was one of the top open-wheel racers in the world, winning nine poles, 10 races and the 1996 Champ Car championship in his open-wheel career. He also finished in the top-5 twice and top-10 three times in eight Indianapolis 500.

Vasser is one of the many recognizable names competing in this year's Rolex 24 - a list that includes Johnson, 2008 IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, 2007 IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, 2000 Indy 500 winner and 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year Juan Pablo Montoya, Casey Mears, Danica Patrick, Kyle Petty, Buddy Rice, Boris Said and Max Papis.

"It's first race of the year. It's a good way to get back into the swing of things,'' said Vasser, who added that many of the open-wheel and stock car drivers will use the Rolex 24 to prepare themselves for their seasons. Poughkeepsie Journal

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