On The Road – Penske Returns To The Rolex 24

The big talk of the weekend is the return of Team Penske to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The team as competitive as they are trying to play it down but you know that Penske is going to be a threat in any race they enter.

The Penske team was going to run two cars but they’re only going to run only one car with Timo Bernard, Romain Dumas as drivers for the whole year, adding Ryan Briscoe for Daytona. They were suspected to run two cars with Kurt Busch and Helio Castroneves (who both ran the event with Penske last year with Briscoe) in the second car. However there was no second car at the Daytona test last weekend and no one was talking about the status of Castroneves. Very quiet on the Daytona front. The rumors are starting about Penske talking with other drivers such as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson and Sea Bass (S. Bourdais). There is once again talk of Sam Hornish, Jr. returning, as he is ready to come back.

Still it was big news and good for the Grand Am Series to have Penske come over from the American LeMans Series. Add Richard Childress starting his team with Crawford Racing and bringing Danica Patrick to the Rolex 24 will help the attendance and raise the profile of the event.

With return of three-time NASCAR Champion, Jimmy Johnson some may think he’s doing a favor for NASCAR and the France family by entering. However, Johnson really wants to win the Rolex 24 and have that on his impressive racing resume. There are going to be some interesting story lines to for the race, but I think the big one is going to be Team Penske.

This will be 40th anniversary of Team Penske winning the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969 with Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons. With a driver lineup of Timo Bernard, Romain Dumas and Ryan Briscoe they’ll be a force to reckon with. Timo and Romain won the P2 title for Porsche the last two years in the American LeMans Series and also won the 12 Hours of Sebring last year, these drivers know how to win. I spoke to Bernard at the test last week, and he said he was ready for the new challenge and this is a challenge going from the Porsche RS Spyder to the Daytona Prototype. The cars are very different as the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype is heavier and it’s taking some time to see what the car needs. It helps that Bernard and Dumas have similar driving styles that helps the crew to set the car up correctly. This is going to another great 24.

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