Roar Before The Rolex 24 And Expanded Coverage For The Rolex 24 At Daytona

Caption: Hurley Haywood returns to the cockpit to help Brumos Motorsports return to the GT divison. Photo by Eddie LePine

Orlando FL, (January 14, 2011) – The start of the 2011 motorsports season is ready to begin with the 49th annual Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway on January 29-30. Before the twice around the clock race, the Grand-Am teams showed up for practice at is what is now called the “Roar Before the Rolex 24.”

Ryan Dalziel broke the DP record with a lap of 128.194MPH, he won the 2010 Rolex last year with Action Express Racing and for this year joined Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsport. The turnout for the test was very good with over 5,000 hardcore racing fans braving the chilly temperatures that have descended across the entire United States. Many of them perhaps wanted to see the track after the recent repaving. The drivers where very happy with the resurfacing job and really could not believe how smooth the track was and are looking forward to the race.

Jimmy Johnson who won his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship will be back again, returning with the Chevrolet-powered GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley and will team up again with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. Johnson loved the new surface and added the Daytona 500 was “really going to be a fast race and with the grip,” he said, “there will be 2 and 3 wide racing.”

The big question of the weekend was Chip Ganassi Racing showing everything they had. Last year they dominated the season winning 9 of 12 races and the Championship and almost won last year’s race. They are going to have star studded line up that will included there new driver Graham Rahal who was very happy to be back at the 24 hour race and really looking forward to have a full ride this year in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Rahal said, “This is the break I was looking for, driving for a top notch team and having teammates like Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.”

The other drivers happy to be back are Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister after winning the ALMS championship for the second year in a row with Flying Lizard Racing Group. The popular team is making the crossover from ALMS and will be running the Porsche engine that the Brumos team ran last year and won here with two years ago.

Brumos went back to their roots and are going to run in the GT class and Hurley Haywood came out of retirement to run another 24 hour race saying it would not be the same if he was not running with Brumos in their return to GT. He will be sharing the ride with Leh Keen, Andrew Davis and Marc Lieb. Keen set the fastest lap for GT with a lap of 116.649. Porsche took the nine of the top ten positions in the test session.

I think the Rolex 24 hour will be another great star-studded, competitive race and it looks like the powerful Chip Ganassi Team will be starting the season with another win. They will be the team to beat and Michael Shank team will be right there to push them, the Ford engine has really shown the speed, however just who’ll win? That’s why you have to watch.


The historic Rolex 24 At Daytona kicks off the 2011 sports car racing season with 14 hours of live coverage from Daytona International Speedway starting Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT. This year’s broadcast includes a special Rolex 24 preview show slated for Sunday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, which also premieres on FOX family network, F/X, Jan. 22 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. P.T.

Long-time SPEED sports car racing voice Leigh Diffey anchors play-by-play coverage from this year’s twice around-the-clock GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 opener. Handling lead color commentary are Dorsey Schroeder and Calvin Fish, while Bob Varsha and David Hobbs are set to host the race. Justin Bell, Brian Till, Chris Neville and Jamie Howe cover all of the pit road action from one of the sport’s most revered tests of driving will.

The aforementioned Bell knows a little bit about what it takes to flourish through the ups and downs of major league endurance racing, competing in multiple events, including five-straight Le Mans with his legendary father, Derek, from 1992 to 1996, finishing third overall in 1995. He would eventually visit victory lane at Le Mans, winning the GT category in 1998, and finishing runner up the subsequent year. But the most excruciating race of his career might have come during the 2000 Rolex 24, when co-driving for Chevrolet’s factory Corvette Racing team, Bell and his teammates wound up a bit shy of Team ORECA’s highly successful No. 91 Dodge Viper entry.

“It’s incredibly hard to do, and to win it, you have to be the best,” Bell said. “It’s one of the big ones to win, and if you meet anyone that’s won it, you know how hard it was for them to do it. I remember in 2000, when driving with Ron Fellows, we lost it by 23 seconds. To win it, it would have meant more than you would have ever known, it would have been extraordinary. It is a hugely important race within the motorsports community.”

In addition to the linear network’s presentation, has planned an extensive amount of Rolex 24 coverage from DIS; including daily storylines, photography, exclusive driver blogs and information from the Daytona Prototype (DP) teams of Chip Ganassi Racing, Michael Shank Racing/United Auto Sports and Flying Lizard Racing’s new Daytona Prototype operation. On the GT side, the Brumos Porsche and Mazda teams are also going to be featured. The often requested ‘Ask the Driver’ interactive Q&A is back, along at-track web video blogs.

Once live coverage signs off at 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 29, Auto Racing Editor Marshall Pruett takes over by hosting a live chat. And before the race begins, race fans can check out the car-by-car photo spotter’s guide to identify all the newest paint schemes and combinations for 2011.

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