2008 Rolex 24 Hour Preview

This weekend’s running of the 46th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal will feature the top endurance race in North America and around the world. It also means the official start to the 2008 motorsports season.
Defending race winners Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and Salvador Duran return with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The twice-around-the-clock endurance test starts at 12:30 p.m. CT Saturday (12 p.m. CT on FOX Sports; 1:30 p.m. CT on SPEED; Sunday – 5 a.m. CT on SPEED). The Ganassi Racing stable is looking for their third straight win.

Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates features a who?s who of auto racing. Veteran American driver Scott Pruett anchors the team. Pruett is the 2004 Rolex Series co-champion and will share his ride with J.P. Montoya – the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner, former Formula One star and current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. Pruett and Montoya will share the #01 TELMEX/Target Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with Pruett’s season-long teammate Memo Rojas and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar champion, Dario Franchitti. Duran will compete in the #02 Target/TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with the teams’ third Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, fellow Englishman and 2007 Indy Pro Series champ Alex Lloyd along with ?03 IndyCar Series titlist Scott Dixon.

Everyone has Bob Stallings Racing #99 GAINSCO Pontiac/Riley team in their sights. The reigning co-champion drivers of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty set fast-time at this event last year. Joining the duo will be two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and 1996 Champ Car World Series titlist Jimmy Vasser. This speedy foursome will try to capture the only major prize which eluded the GAINSCO Team last season.

Roger Penske makes his presence known with the help of long-time Grand-Am supporter and driver, Wayne Taylor. The #9 Penske-Taylor Racing Toshiba Pontiac Riley team will have two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Dancing With The Stars titlist Helio Castroneves, his new Penske IndyCar teammate Ryan Briscoe and 2004 NASCAR champ Kurt Busch.

A perennial frontrunner is the #10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley team who finished third in points last year. The #10 entry finished third in last year’s Rolex 24 despite numerous mechanical woes. Lead driver Max Angelelli returns to the team with talented Michael Valiante and the father/son duo of Wayne Taylor and his 18-year old son, Ricky.

If wouldn?t be a 24 Hour race at Daytona without five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood. Haywood returns for his 35th start with the legendary in Brumos Porsche entry. The #59 Porsche Riley is a former race winner and will include drivers, JC France, Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller. The car finished fourth in last year’s race. The team’s #58 entry will have team regulars David Donohue and Darren Law along with 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice.

Ford Racing has increased its involvement in the Rolex Series for 2008 and will power four cars in the Rolex 24. The Michael Shank Racing line-up includes A.J. Allmendinger (#6) along with Champ Car veterans Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal (#60). Wilson, Allmendinger and team regulars Oswaldo ?Oz? Negri and Mark Patterson piloted the #60 entry to second place last year. Also included in the team are team regulars Ian James and John Pew as well as series regular Burt Frisselle.

Future superstar and Roush Racing Craftsman Truck Series driver Colin Braun returns to the Grand-Am Series in the Ford-powered #61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley. Defending NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champ Andrew Ranger join team regulars Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle. The team finished fifth in last year’s 24 Hour event.

IndyCar regular Vision Racing made a last minute entry for drivers Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, and former 24 winner, John Andretti, Rolex 24 rookie, Vitor Meira and team owner Tony George.

SAMAX who was a part-time IndyCar Series team in 2007 returns to the Rolex 24. The team had been a regular in Rolex Series. SAMAX has put together a two-car effort for this year?s Rolex 24. The team’s #11 Pontiac Riley finished second in last year’s race with drivers Milka Duno and Ryan Dalziel. They?ll share the car with controversial Tomas Enge and Harold Primat. SAMAX’s #2 Pontiac Riley has ALMS Audi drivers Allan McNish and Lucas Luhr, along with Mike Rockenfeller and Henri Zogaib.

Other Rolex 24 champions that are competing in the Daytona Prototype competition include Fabio Babini (#16 Cheever Racing Pontiac Fabcar), Johnny O’Connell (#91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley) and Andy Wallace (#23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford).

The diverse GT field consists of 42 entries with such front-running teams as TRG and Farnbacher Loles Motorsports. Entries include Pontiac GXP.R, Ford Mustang, Mazda RX-8, Porsche GT3, Corvette, Ferrari 430 and BMW M6 race cars. Some of the top names running the popular GT division include, J

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