Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rolex 24 at Daytona Ready For Green Flag

Speedweeks 2013 begins this afternoon with the running of the 51st Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, and again this year, the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic will be heavily sprinkled with NASCAR talent.

Allmendinger dazzled in last year's 24
The winning team in four of the last seven Rolex 24s has featured at least one NASCAR driver, highlighted by Michael Shank Racing, which rode the considerable road course talents of AJ Allmendinger to last year’s overall title.

Allmendinger returns to defend the title with Shank Racing in 2013, but qualified only sixth-fastest yesterday. He’ll find plenty of familiar faces on the starting grid at the World Center of Racing this afternoon, conluding Shank Racing teammate Marcos Ambrose.

Two-time Rolex 24 champion Juan Pablo Montoya and teammate Jamie McMurray will both drive for powerhouse Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi’s lead entry, the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley, claimed the pole position for today’s race with a lap of 127.455 mph, courtesy of five-time Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett. Montoya will drive as part of the No. 01 team, along with Dixon, IndyCar star Charlie Kimball and Memo Rojas. Ganassi’s No. 02 BMW/Riley, with McMurray on the roster, will start second today.

Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip returns to the Rolex 24 with his own AF-Waltrip Racing team, along with co-owner Rob Kauffman, 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship runner-up Clint Bowyer and sports car ace Rui Aguas. Bowyer set realistic goals for himself in his first-ever endurance event, quipping, "It's going to be interesting. I have a tough enough time concentrating for 3 1/2 hours. I'm not used to those cars. I see headlights coming and I get out of the way.”

Waltrip expressed confidence in his driver, saying, "He won a road race in NASCAR last year. The best in the world run NASCAR and he was able to win the race. So I knew he would do pretty good.”
AF-Waltrip qualified 17th in class and 33rd overall for today’s race.
Nelson Piquet, Jr., who is expected to graduate to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season driving for Turner Scott Motorsports, is part of a five-man Rolex 24 roster for the Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype, which starts 11th today.
Frequent NASCAR road course competitors Max Papis and Boris Said, and former Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series racers Andy Lally and Colin Braun are also a part of the 2013 Rolex 24 field.


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