Grand-Am welcomes start of 2011 season

The first major event on the international motorsports calendar will take place this weekend when GRAND-AM Road Racing rings in the new year with the "Roar Before the Rolex 24," a three-day test featuring a star-studded lineup at Daytona International Speedway.

Many of the stars entered in the season-opening 49th running of Rolex 24 At Daytona – set for Jan. 29-30 – are expected to test this Friday through Sunday (Jan. 7-9).

The reigning Daytona Prototype champions of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, along with series regulars including Alex Gurney, Max Angelelli, Jan Magnussen and David Donohue – are expected to be joined by NASCAR standouts including Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, plus international stars including Dario Franchitti, Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Jorg Bergmeister and Scott Dixon.

Forty-seven cars are entered for Rolex Series testing, including multi-car DP lineups from defending race winner Action Express Racing, three-time winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Michael Shank Racing, Starworks Motorsports and Level 5 Motorsports. One-car efforts come from GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, SunTrust Racing, Doran Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing, Krohn Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports. GT teams with multi-car lineups include defending winners SpeedSource, TRG, Dempsey Racing, Team Sahlen and Magnus Racing.

The Rolex Series will be joined at the test by the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, which opens its season with the GRAND-AM 200 at Daytona on Jan. 28.

Friday's sessions run from 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. (ET). Saturday testing begins at 9 a.m., and concludes with a 6:30-8 p.m. night session. Sunday activities run from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. All-access tickets are $15 each day – free to Rolex 24 ticket holders – with admission located at either of the speedway tunnels.

NOTES: Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will announce its Rolex 24 lineup in a Saturday press conference, followed by the introduction of Dempsey Racing's fourth driver and a special paint scheme for the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8. Team owner Patrick Dempsey is tentatively scheduled to attend. … SpeedSource, seeking its third Rolex 24 GT victory in four years, will announce the remainder of its driving lineup on Friday for its No. 70 entry. … Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is expected to test on Saturday for in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley. … SPEED's live television coverage of the Rolex 24 runs from 3-10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29 (ET), and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30. … The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will return with live radio coverage and updates. … The Rolex 24 will take the green flag at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.

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