Pruett Leads Opening Day of Daytona Testing
DAYTONA BEACH, Jan. 7, 2011: Picking up where he left off last year, Scott Pruett ran the fastest laps Friday at Daytona International Speedway to lead the opening day of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" in the car that dominated last year's Daytona Prototype championship.
The three-day session is giving competitors in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 an opportunity to prepare for the 49th runnning of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, set for Jan. 29-30.
"The Rolex 24 is our Super Bowl," Pruett said.
"A lot of energy goes into this event. It's monumental."
Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas -- they pilot the No. 01 TELMEX/Target BMW/Riley, for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates -- won nine of 12 races en route to the 2010 DP title. Ganassi's organization won the Rolex 24 three times from 2006-08, and finished second the past two years. Joey Hand tested with the team for the first time on Friday, and will be joined by second-generation IndyCar star Graham Rahal on Saturday.
Spencer Pumpelly was fastest in GT testing with an afternoon lap of 1:50.170 (116.329 mph) in the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup co-driven by Andy Lally, Steven Bertheau, Wolf Henzler and Brendan Gaughan. That lap was quickest than Bill Auberlen's time of 1:50.377 that led the morning session in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-driven by Boris Said, Paul Dalla Lana and Matt Plumb.
The test was the first official GRAND-AM event on the repaved speedway section of the 3.56-mile road circuit.
"The paving is phenomenal," said Ozz Negri, who shares the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley with John Pew, Marc Goossens and Michael Valiante. "It's smooth as can be. It is a real joy going through the oval without the car going up and down. The transitions are very smooth, and I like the chicane better. I wouldn't do a single thing differently."
Saturday's 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 both days - free to Rolex 24 ticket holders - with admission located at either of the speedway tunnels.
NOTES: A.J. Allmendinger, Michael McDowell and Justin Wilson were introduced as drivers of the No. 6 Curb Records Ford/Dallara, part of a three-car effort by Michael Shank Racing. ... John Edwards and Adam Christodoulou, who co-drove for SpeedSource in 2009, will join Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8, looking to give the team its third Rolex 24 GT victory in four years. ... NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Colin Braun was added to the Starworks Motorsport lineup on the team's No. 8 Corsa Car Care Ford/Riley, joining defending Rolex 24 winner Ryan Dalziel, Mike Forest and Tomas Enge. Dalziel was second-fastest in Friday afternoon testing. ... Scott Maxwell led both Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge sessions in the Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R. The Camaro of John Edwards and Matt Bell was second in the morning in the Stevenson Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro, while Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. were second in the afternoon in the Roush Performance Ford Mustang.