Rolex 24 again features star-studded field
Champions from GRAND-AM, NASCAR, IndyCar and international motorsports headline a star-studded lineup for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, set for Jan. 30-31 at Daytona International Speedway.
The event kicks off the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 - and the international motorsports schedule - when the green flag waves at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday. Live SPEED coverage begins at 3 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m., and resumed Sunday from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Champion-packed Daytona Prototype lineups from GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, SunTrust Racing, Michael Shank Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing, Crown Royal/NGN Motorsports, Krohn Racing and Doran Racing will challenge the defending champion Brumos Racing team - led by five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood in what he has announced as his final race at Daytona.
TRG - 1-2 finishers in GT in last year's Rolex 24 - brings a five-car lineup to lead that class, with challengers coming from Stevenson Motorsports, SpeedSource, Dempsey Racing, Team Sahlen, Alex Job Racing and Godstone Ranch Motorsports.
"I couldn't believe how big it was winning the Rolex 24," said David Donohue, who won the 2009 edition of the event with Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia for Brumos Racing. "We've enjoyed our year of being Rolex 24 champs, and we hate to see it end. The whole team knows what we have to do, and we fully intend to repeat."
Donohue and Law will co-drive the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley this weekend, joined by Butch Leitzinger, Raphael Matos and Hurley Haywood, who is running for the final time in the event he first won in 1973.
"This will be my first race in the No. 59, and also the first time I've ever been in the same car with Hurley," Donohue said. "That's extra special for me, because of the meaning and history of the No. 59 for Brumos, and because Hurley has been my friend for almost 20 years."
Haywood is the leading winner in the history of the event, following up his 1973 triumph with victories in 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991 - in addition to winning his class in 1972.
"There is so much hype about this being my last race and there are a lot of emotions running through my mind, but racing has many ups and downs," said Haywood, who won the 2009 Rolex Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Brumos. "The smallest thing can knock out the best efforts. Regardless of this week's outcome, I've won this race before and can go out with my head held high. But it would be terrific to end a 40-year career by getting that sixth victory at Daytona."
Donohue took last year's checkered flag only .167 seconds ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. The 2007 and 2008 winner returns in the No. 02 Ganassi BMW Riley, joined by fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, and FELLOW NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray. Three-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett will be joined in the team's No. 01 BMW Riley by Memo Rojas, Max Papis and Justin Wilson.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the Daytona Prototype title for Stallings in 2007 and 2009, but are still looking for their first Rolex 24 triumph in the No. 99 Chevrolet Riley co-driven by four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Champ Car titlist Jimmy Vasser.
SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli was fastest in January's Roar Before the Rolex 24 testing in the No. 10 Ford Dallara he will co-drive with two-time Rolex 24 winner Wayne Taylor, 20-year-old Ricky Taylor and Pedro Lamy. Wayne Taylor won the event in 1996 and co-drove with Angelelli in 2005.
Michael Shank Racing has a pair of Ford-powered Rileys. Former Rolex 24 pole winner Ozz Negri is joined by John Pew, Mark Wilkins and Burt Frisselle in the No. 60, with Michael Valiante, AJ Allmendinger, Mark Patterson and Brian Frisselle sharing the No. 6.
Rice and Garcia will seek their second consecutive Rolex 24 victory in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote, joined by NASCAR's Paul Menard.
Christophe Bouchut - the 1995 Rolex 24 winner - and Scott Tucker are entered in both Crown Royal/NGN Motorsports entries. Four-time Champ Car titlist Sebastien Bourdais, Sascha Maassen and 2005 Rolex 24 winner Emmanuel Collard are in the No. 55 BWM Riley, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Lucas Luhr and Richard Westbrook in the No. 95.
Krohn Racing's No. 75 Proto-Auto Ford Lola will be driven by Nic Jonsson, Ricardo Zonta, Tracy Krohn and NASCAR's Colin Braun, while Sunoco Rolex 24 Driver Challenge winner Derek Johnston joins Memo Gidley, Fabrizio Gollin and Brad Jaeger in Doran Racing's No. 77 Ford Dallara.
A pair of new Daytona Prototype teams will debut in the event. Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller, Ryan Dalziel and Mike Rockenfeller co-drive the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley, while Mike Forest, Bill Lester and Don von Moltke share the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley.
Kevin Buckler's TRG has three GT class triumphs in the Rolex 24 - including overall honors in 2003 - and will have a contingent of five Porsches in a bid to add to the team's honors. Two-time Rolex 24 winner Timo Bernhard joins Romain Dumas, Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly and NASCAR champion Bobby Labonte in the No. 71 Porsche GT3. The No. 67 - fielded in cooperation with Flying Lizard Motorsports - includes three-time Rolex 24 winner Jorg Bergmeister with Pat Long, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek. Andy Lally, a two-time Rolex 24 winner, shares the No. 66 AXA Porsche with Ted Ballou, Kelly Collins, Patrick Flanagan and Wolf Henzler.
Stevenson Motorsports, runner-up for the GT championship the past two years, switches from Pontiac to Camaro and added a second car for 2010. Andrew Davis, Robin Liddell and Jan Magnussen co-drive the No. 57, with Mike Borkowski, Gunter Schaldach, Matt Bell and Brady Refenning in the No. 97.
SpeedSource - 2008 Rolex 24 winners and two-time winners of the Daytona summer race - brings a two-car lineup. Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, Jonathan Bomarito and David Haskell are in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, with Emil Assentato, Jeff Segal, Nick Longhi and Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
Dempsey Racing expands to two Mazda RX-8s for 2010. Popular racer/actor Patrick Dempsey co-drives the No. 40 RX-8 with Joe Foster and Charles Espenlaub, while defending GT champion Leh Keen shares the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving Mazda with James Gue and Don Kitch. Other contending Mazda RX-8s include a pair of Team Sahlen entries for Joe Sahlen with Joe, Wayne and Will Nonnamaker, plus the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports entry for 17-year-old Jordan Taylor, Todd Lamb, Glenn Bocchino and Jade Buford.
The BMW M6 will make its second appearance in the Rolex 24. Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge standout Turner Motorsport steps up for its Rolex 24 debut with the No. 94 for Bill Auberlen, Boris Said, Joey Hand and Paul Della Lana. Rob Finlay, Max Hyatt, Thomas Merrill and Jeff Westphal share the No. 32 Corsa Team PR1 BMW.
Godstone Ranch Motorsports debuts the No. 07 Corvette for 1990 Rolex 24 winner Davy Jones, Paul Edwards, John McCutchen and motorcycle legend Scott Russell. Tony Dowe, who led TRG Jaguars to two overall victories and two additional class victories in the Rolex 24, will oversee the effort for Leighton Reese and Mike Baughman. Other GM entries include a Pontiac for Autohaus Motorsports and a Pontiac GTO and Corvette as part of a three cars for Matt Connolly Motorsports.
Sigalsport returns to the Rolex Series with a Ferrari 430 Challenge for IndyCar Series driver Roger Yasukawa, Gene Sigal, Rusty West and Fred Poordad. A second Ferrari has been entered by Wil Mar Racing.
Alex Job Racing has the No. 23 Foametrix/Battery Tender GT3 for Martin Ragginger, Jack Baldwin, Claudio Burtin, Dominik Farnbacher and Mitch Pagerey. Other Porsche teams include Miller Barrett Racing, JLowe Motorsports, Orbit Racing, Canada's Bullet Racing, Magnus Racing, Autometrics Motorsports and Matt Connolly Motorsports.
Practice for the Rolex 24 begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, with qualifying to set for 4:15 p.m. and night practice at 6:30. The weekend also includes the opening round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, with the Fresh From Florida 200 set for 1:45 p.m. Friday.