Team USA Scholarship Graduates Claim Top Honors in Rolex 24 The new North American auto racing season began in style this weekend with an enthralling 47th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The ‘round-the-clock endurance event, which kicked off the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, ended with Team USA Scholarship graduates Buddy Rice and Andy Lally standing atop the respective podiums in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes.
Rice, who won a Team USA Scholarship in 1996, teamed with David Donohue, Darren Law and Antonio Garcia to clinch the overall victory aboard the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche-Riley.
Donohue took the lead with 39 minutes remaining and held off a strong challenge from defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya (#01 Target/Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus-Riley) to win by just 0.167 seconds. It was the closest margin of victory in the event’s storied history.
1999 Team USA Scholarship winner Lally joined Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Justin Marks and R.J. Valentine in securing the GT class honors aboard their #67 TRG Porsche 911 GT3.
A variety of other Team USA Scholarship winners also showed strongly in the event. A.J. Allmendinger (2001 Team USA Scholarship winner) was leading the race overall after 153 laps when his #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley suffered technical problems; Jimmy Vasser (1990) was among the event’s leading contenders in the #99 Gainsco Racing Pontiac-Riley; and Paul Edwards (1998) led the GT class aboard Banner Racing’s #06 Pontiac GXP.R until hitting difficulties which dropped the car to fourth in class at the finish.
Other Team USA Scholarship drivers among the 49-car field included Memo Gidley (1995), Bryan Sellers (2001), Dane Cameron (2006) and Patrick Barrett (2007).
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