Rolex 24 Updates thru Friday
Potoliccio Calls on IndyCar Friend Viso to Join Starworks Lineup (Updated Friday at 3:15 p.m.)
The lineup is complete for the No. 2 Duncan Ford/Riley - with lead driver Enzo Potoliccio calling on a friend to join the team.
With the team needing a fourth driver, Potoliccio called on fellow Venezuelan E.J. Viso - a driver in IndyCar, and his friend came through.
"E.J. flew in from Indy and did five or six laps," Potoliccio said. "He loved the car and felt comfortable driving it, even though this is his first time at Daytona and in a Daytona Prototype."
Potoliccio recently purchased the car and plans to run the entire season. The car will be sponsored by Duncan, a battery company from Venezuela. Fellow Venezuelan Alex Popow will co-drive for the season, with Frenchman Romain Ianetta and Viso driving in the Rolex 24. Potoliccio also plans to defend his Ferrari Challenge championship.
Potoliccio got a helping hand at Daytona three weeks ago that enabled him to compete in the Rolex 24.
"Peter Baron (Starworks owner) let me take a few laps in his No. 8 car here during testing earlier this month since my car was not ready," Potoliccio said. "I got in a few laps and got a feel for the DP. Thanks to them, we're here to race this weekend."Local Team Lends a Hand to Ferrari Team (Updated Friday at 3 p.m.)
The No. 56 Bennett Racing Ferrari F430 Challenge was nowhere to be seen in the Rolex Series paddock on Friday. The bright yellow Ferrari - qualified by Jean-Francois Dumoulin - was damaged in an incident during Thursday's night practice session.
The car will be back and is expected to race on Saturday. The team took the car to the Spirit of Daytona Racing shop in nearby Holly Hill, where Spirit owner Troy Flis allowed the team to make needed repairs.
Johnson, Atterbury Doing Double Duty (Updated Friday at 2:10 p.m.)
Billy Johnson and Joey Atterbury, drivers of the No. 86 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro, are among the drivers doing double duty in the Rolex 24 and GRAND-AM 200 this weekend.
"I'm really honored to be listed as a backup driver for Mitchum Motorsports in the Rolex 24," said Johnson, whose No. 61 Roush Performance Mustang was eliminated in the early going of Friday's race when Jack Roush Jr. lost his brakes. "The team is awesome. They're doing a great job. I'm going to assist them in any way I can. I'm here for them."
Joey Atterbury is driving both Mitchum cars, including the No. 62 Sunoco/Rockstar Energy Drink Camaro in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
"The Rolex Series car is going great," Atterbury said. "We got a good setup on it last night - unfortunately not in time for qualifying - but the car is running very stable now. We spent Friday getting more time in it for all of the drivers, so we should be set for the Rolex 24."
Gaughan Feeling More Competitive (Updated Friday at 2 p.m.)
NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Brendan Gaughan is paired with some of the biggest names in sports car racing - Andy Lally, Wolf Henzler and Spencer Pumpelly - but he feels he's pulling his weight driving TRG's No. 67 Sergent & Lundy/South Point Hotel & Casino Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
"I'm getting faster," Gaughan said. "I'm getting where I want to be at. It's nice when (team engineer) Horst Farnbacher can look at you at say 'Hey." He'll let me do a double or he'll let me run - he's not worried about it anymore. I'm down to the 1:51:50s for my own times. Man, I'm not going to try to be as fast as Andy, Spencer or Wolf. I'm going to do my job and try to help the team wtih the Rolex 24 hours.
"This is a fantastic experience," Gaughan added. "I' with the team that has the fastest thing here, and we've done it in just about every practice session."
Paul Miller Racing Recovers From Incident (Updated Friday at 1:45 p.m.)
While many of the teams sat out one of two Friday morning final practice sessions for the Rolex 24, Paul Miller Racing used all the track time they could get.
"We're still chasing the setup, so we made the most of the two sessions today," said Bryce Miller, lead driver for the No. 48 Marquis Jet/Total/IPC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. "We had an incident last night, and that put more pressure on the crew. I didn't see what happened, but it really wasn't all that bad. There was some bodywork damage, so we were fortunate with that.
"We have the lineup and we have the crew, so we just have to make it all come together here," Miller said.
Level 5 Motorsports Taking Conservative Approach (Updated Thursday at 8 p.m.)
Back in December, Level 5 Motorsports took a very aggressive approach to testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, putting both of its cars at or near the top in every session.
Thursday, they took a more conservative approach, sitting out qualifying with both the No. 55 and No. 95 BMW/Rileys.
"We feel we can be up there if we have to attack, but we're taking the approach that it's a long race," said team manager David Stone. "We're content to start at the back of the pack and avoid incidents. We've got good spotters around the track, and hopefully they can help us avoid any incidents. Remember, the race really starts at mid-day Sunday."
Auberlen Feels BMW Is Ready (Updated Thursday at 8:10 p.m.)
Bill Auberlen missed part of Thursday's activities due to testing at another venue, but he put in a few laps Thursday evening and feels ready to go.
"Today the competition is showing what they've got, and the Porsches are strong," Auberlen said. "But I feel our equipment is strong and reliable. Turner Motorsport has built a very good BMW. We can take it to them now."
Up and Down Day for Michael Shank (Updated Thursday at 8:25 p.m.)
Michael Shank was smiling in the pits late during Thursday's practice, feeling that all three of his teams are on the right track.
"It's really been an up-and-down day," Shank said. "Right now the No. 6 car is P-1 with Justin Wilson. We had problems earlier but now it's fixed and the guys love it. Qualifying was disappointing. I know we're better than that. I'm not sure what the problem was with the No. 60, but it's running a lot better now. And I'm tickled to death with the No. 23 car."
Gurney's Eagle Still Holds Record (Updated Thursday at 8:30 p.m.)
Jorg Bergmeister topped the Daytona International Speedway Daytona Prototype record in qualifying today, and Dominik Farnbacher toppled the GT mark, but one Daytona International Speedway standard will hold for another year.
P.J. Jones set the all-time qualifying mark with a lap of 1:33.875 (136.521 mph) in 1993, driving Gurney's All American Racers Toyota Eagle MKIII. Jones went on to win the race, joined by Rocky Moran and Mark Dismore, beginning a Camel GTP season in which Gurney's charges won every race they entered.
Kenny Wallace Enjoying Second Rolex 24 (Updated Thursday at 6 p.m.)
NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace is walking around the paddock grinning ear to ear.
"I always told people I can fit in anywhere," Wallace said. "I don't know a soul here - but everyone know me. I'm loving it. I'm having a great time. This is exciting."
Wallace is driving TRG's No. 4 Children's Tumor Foundation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Ryan Eversley, Daniel Graff, Ron Yarab Jr. and Richard Zahn Jr. His only other Rolex 24 was in 1993, when he finished 48th in a Chevrolet Camaro.
Expect Big Numbers in Qualifying (Updated Thursday at 2:50 p.m.)
Max "The Axe" Angelelli showed his hand in Thursday's second practice session, running an unofficial track record lap of 1:40.340 (127.726 mph). So did Ozz Negri, who ran 1:40.758 (127.196 mph).
In GT, Andy Lally did even better - unofficially shattering the track record by running 1:48.988 (117.580 mph).
However, all three think that some of their competitors have yet to show their hands.
"I think a lot of people are sandbagging," said Angelelli, who won the pole for the 2010 Rolex 24. "I would really like to win the pole again, but I think qualifying will be difficult. You saw the Ganassi cars just riding around in that last session."
Negri won the pole for the 2008 Rolex 24, but was not optimistic going in to the 3:45 p.m. session.
"I'm going to be giving it everything I have - I was giving it everything I had in that last session," Negri said. "But I'm still not happy with the car. We're still struggling with the balance. There's not a hair left in it. But as always, in qualifying I going to go for the gold."
David Donohue set the track record in qualifying for the 2009 Rolex 24 with a lap of 1:40.540 (127.492 mph).
Lally was happy with his lap - but not overconfident entering the 4:15 p.m. GT session.
"Wow, that was the first sub-49 lap for a GT car in the history of Daytona," Lally said. "TRG has given me a car good enough to fight for the pole. I just hope we can find a good gap and lay one down. The setup is great, and the guys have done a great job making this Porche really fast. But I still think one or two other guys have a little something in reserve. I think you're going to see some big numbers this afternoon."
Jeff Segal holds the track GT record from last year, 1:49.282 (117.275 mph).
No Problems Fitting in for Hand, Rahal (Updated Thursday at 1:55 p.m.)
Joey Hand and Graham Rahal both spent time at the wheel of the No. 01 TELMEX/Target BMW/Riley in Thursday practice, driving the car that won nine of 12 races en route to the 2010 Daytona Prototype championship.
"I've driven for some pretty cool teams in my career, but this was the one I've always wanted to drive for," Hand said. "Wow, this team lives up to its reputation. It's strong top to bottom, with a lot of depth. It's a good race car. It's tidy, clean and all the systems are easy to work with.
"Just having my name painted on the TELMEX Chip Ganassi car is a big deal for me," Hand added.
"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Rahal said. "We've got a real good shot here, if we keep our heads together."
This is Rahal's first drive in a DP. Hand's last appearance in the class was with Starworks at Virginia International Raceway, where he finished ninth. He was a regular with Alex Job Racing in 2008 running with Bill Auberlen in a Porsche/Riley, finishing second at Homestead-Miami Speedway among seven top-10 finishes.
"I seem to fit in well, and it's been a seamless transition," Hand said. "They're very easy-going guys, and I just do my job. Scott (Pruett) and I both live in the Sacramento area, and he's always given me advice."
Now, Hand is content to watch from the pits as the team prepares for the race. He doesn't expect to get any more seat time before the Rolex 24 - but he will be ready and eager to go if called on.
Henzler Happy to Return with TRG (Updated Thursday at 1:20 p.m.)
Wolf Henzler has been running in the Rolex 24 since 2005, when he won in GT for Farnbacher Racing. This weekend, he returns with TRG in the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy/South Point Hotel and Casino Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, co-driving with Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Brendan Gaughan and Steven Bertheau.
"I raced for TRG here last year (third in GT) and now I know nowthe team really good," Henzler said. "It's a real good team and I am happy to be back. The car is very fast, and the resurfacing of the track is really nice. It's very smooth. and it's easier to drive without the bumps in the banking."
Lally was fastest in Thursday morning practice and will qualify the car this afternoon.
"It's good to be on top, but for the overall result, it doesn't matter if you start last or from the pole," Henzler said. "But it's still real nice for the team if you can win the pole position."
Craig Stanton Fit and Ready to Go (Updated Thursday at 12:20 p.m.)
Craig Stanton's usual preparation for the Rolex 24 involves several months of doing "a triathlon a day," working out for at least one hour in three different activities.
As a final touch, the driver of the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup went through a series of workouts over a 24-hour span last Wednesday to simulate the race.
"I started out with a few hours doing circuit training in a weight room," Stanton said. "Then I rowed, biked and worked on a simulator."
Stanton took a few naps, meals and snacks throughout the 24-hour span, simulating what he will do in Saturday's race. This is the fifth year he went through the full-day workout to prepare for the Rolex 24.
Davy Jones, Steve Lisa Without Ride (Updated Thursday at 11:10 a.m.)
The on-again, off-again entry for the No. 00 Aten Motorsports Ferrari F430Challenge has hit another snag.
Davy Jones, overall winner of the 1990 Rolex 24, came to the track today only to find that the car would be parked for the weekend.
"The owner doesn't want it raced," Jones said. "The car has badly damaged by fire in the recent testing here, but Tony Dowe and the team put a lot of effort into rebuilding the car and now it's race ready and absolutely immaculate."
Jones and Steve Lisa were scheduled to co-drive with Frenchmen Emmanuel Collard, Gabriel and Xavier Pompidou. Collard was the 2005 overall winner of the Rolex 24 with SunTrust Racing. In addition to winning overall in 1990, Jones also won his class twice in the event. A veteran of Indy Car competition, Jones finished second in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and won overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks later.
"We're disappointed, but that's racing," Jones said. "Never a dull moment."
Starworks Motorsport Adds Third DP; Enge Returns to Daytona (Updated Thursday at 11 a.m.)
Starworks Motorsport added a third Daytona Prototype to its lineup. Enzo Pololiccio, Alex Popow and Romain Ianetta are entered in the No. 2 Duncan Ford/Riley. Car owner Peter Baron expects to add at least one more driver.
Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic is making his first visit to Daytona in two years, co-driving the No. 8 Starworks Ford/Riley. Enge drove for Baron's Samax Motorsports in 2007 and 2008, finishing sixth in his first appearance. He finished 15th in 2009, driving a BMW/Riley for Alegra Motorspors.
"I love 24-hour races - this is my second one this month - and I love to drive these cars," Enge said. "The Daytona Prototypes remind me of little bit of a GT-1 car. This car is wider and has better response. Also, I like being in a position to win overall, as well."