Chip Ganassi Racing adds GearWrench as sponsor to No. 1 team
In what seems a natural fit for both GearWrench and Chip Ganassi Racing , the NASCAR team announced Tuesday that the innovative tool brand will serve as primary sponsor on the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray for multiple races in the 2017 season. GearWrench executives joined Ganassi team officials and McMurray on Tuesday at the prestigious Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas to announce the news. The tool brand ran the announcement live on Facebook on Tuesday, and fans can also sign up for a sweepstakes on the GearWrench Facebook page for a chance to win one of 10 new tool sets to be given away as part of the big news. McMurray agrees the partnership couldn't be more authentic for his team. "It was interesting," the 2010 Daytona 500 winner told NASCAR.com. "The day I was in the shop and I knew they were coming by (to see the shop), my car chief asked who was coming by. I told him the name of the company and he said, 'Those are awesome tools.' "Then he took me over to his toolbox and opened one of the drawers up and he had a whole drawer already of the GearWrench tools. That's really special when you get to be a part of a brand you're already using. Guys that work on our cars every day believe in them and they're using the tools every day. We’re super pumped to have them on board." It's the company's biggest foray into NASCAR and judging by the excitement from its executives, Tuesday's announcement about this partnership is welcome and positive news. "This is the biggest announcement in the history of the GearWrench brand and a significant marketing investment that will deliver significant growth in sales and market share," said John Constantine, president of GearWrench's North American Hand Tools, Apex Tool Group. "We are thrilled to be taking GearWrench to the next level by partnering with Chip Ganassi Racing and their top mechanics in 2017." Chip Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta echoed McMurray's enthusiasm for this partnership, and the team's fond familiarity of the brand. The tools also are used in industrial and aerospace work as well as in technical education. "GearWrench is a brand that understands how our team strives to deliver value to our partners and find ways to grow the business together," Lauletta said. "They have been associated with the sport for several years from local tracks to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are excited that we will be able to put their products to work in the hands of our mechanics in the shop and at the race track." And the No. 1 GearWrench Chevrolet that McMurray will pilot in races next year will be designed to look like the GearWrench distribution fleet vehicles that so many have already seen on the nation's roads. "It's wonderful that a new brand recognizes the value of NASCAR," McMurray said. "And when you're talking about a tool, there's really no better fit than a race team and NASCAR being the most popular form of racing in America makes that a really easy tie-in."
Tyler Reddick seizes opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Tyler Reddick won't be competing full time in 2017, but the former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racer expects to log just as many laps this season as he did this past year. After two full seasons of seasoning with Brad Keselowski Racing , Reddick will split seat time with Kyle Larson this season in the No. 42 NASCAR XFINITY Series entry fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. BBR Music Group will provide sponsorship for multiple races with Reddick. His first scheduled start with the team will be the season-opening Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, Feb. 25, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.) "A full-time schedule in the Truck Series is 23 races," Reddick told NASCAR.com. "The partial (XFINITY) schedule will be 18-20, so when you think about that ... and add up all the laps, you're probably going to get more seat time than you would running a full-time truck schedule, you'll probably have more tires for practice. So actually I'm probably going to get about the same or maybe a little more seat time than I did running full time in the Truck Series. That's still a lot of great opportunities to learn and get better and hopefully have some good runs with the team." Reddick, 21, won three times in the Truck Series. He finished second in points in his first full season in 2015 with wins at Daytona and Dover. He added a victory at Las Vegas last year but slipped to ninth in points. RELATED: See Reddick's No. 42 look for 2017 "I could have worked out an opportunity to where I possibly could have remained at BKR one more year but there were definitely some other things going on and some other opportunities to be had," he said. "Fortunately, the right person kind of got us pointed in the right direction, got us talking with Chip's people and got the ball rolling there. ... "We were just really fortunate that the guys with Ganassi wanted me to be in their vehicle." Larson and Justin Marks shared driving duties last year for the No. 42 team, which will continue to be led by crew chief Mike Shiplett. Larson also drives the organization's No. 42 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ; he picked up XFINITY Series wins at Pocono and Texas while Marks earned the victory at Mid-Ohio last year. Ganassi also fields additional teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , with driver Jamie McMurray , and the XFINITY Series, with Brennan Poole . It's that depth and talent, Reddick said, that makes running a partial schedule just as attractive as running full time elsewhere. "There are a lot of really good people in the shop and on the road that are within Chip Ganassi in the XFINITY and on the Cup side," he said. "Whether it be a partial schedule with this team or someone different -- the advantage with this team is they have Cup cars, they have XFINITY cars and they are more than a single-car team. There's a lot of good people involved here. "The other big gains from this are having someone like Kyle Larson that I'm sharing the car with. Being able to go to the race track and when I'm outside the vehicle, being able to take in a different perspective just from afar." It's a similar situation to his move into the Truck Series, when he initially ran a partial schedule for Keselowski in 2014 and shared seat time with the owner/driver as well as fellow racer Joey Logano . "I got to learn a lot just from those guys," Reddick said. "Sitting outside and watching them work with the guys ... seeing how they worked with them, how they go about their race, what their race plan is and how they communicate with one another. You wouldn't think it would do much but it really helps to get things moving in the right direction. I thought it really helped me on my first year." It's not the first time Reddick and Larson's paths have crossed. Both grew up in California -- Reddick hails from Corning, while Larson is a native of Elk Grove -- and the two often competed in the same events. Larson eventually migrated to Sprint cars while Reddick, at his family's urging, chose the dirt late model route. "My family was scared to death of Sprint cars and scared I was going to get hurt so we decided to go dirt late model racing ," he said. "That's where our backgrounds split. But where we learned how to race and drive was pretty much the same -- in those early outlaw cars. "So similar backgrounds; obviously we took two different paths there toward the end but somehow we've ended back up in the same place." Although he will only run between 18 and 20 races with the team this season, Reddick expects to be competitive. The No. 42 entry finished seventh in the owners' championship a year ago and Reddick said that's a team goal from the outset. As for his goals, Reddick said he hopes to step in and compete for top-five finishes out of the box. "Top 10s would be great but I know this team is capable of that with anybody in the car. I want to get these guys top fives right off the bat," he said. "They are capable of it and I have to do my part. I know this team has won races with Kyle and Justin." A win, he said, would be "very reasonable." "I'm not just trying to say 'Oh yeah, I can win a race' or come across as being boastful or ... arrogant," he said. "That's how good this team is -- they're very capable of that and I'm not going to sell it short. They won multiple times last year. "If I do my part and don't make any mistakes throughout the course of a race, that's something that's very reasonable that we can accomplish. No pressure, right? I just have to do my part and be smart about it." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Sabates offers insight into Chip Ganassi Racing's gains
Felix Sabates, the co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing , discusses the gains the two-car team has made since last season.
Chip Ganassi always up for next racing challenge
SEBRING, Fla. -- Fans practically contorted themselves to get the perfect "selfies" and random close-ups of Chip Ganassi's two Ford GT cars on the grid awaiting Saturday's green flag for the 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Dressed in their finest Ford, Chevrolet Corvette and even Ferrari and Porsche T-shirts and hats, the crowd around Ganassi's two red-white-and-blue entries was easily the largest on the starting grid. The curious and adoring fans examined the rear wing, peered into the car's windows and asked crewman to pose for photos. And there were audible bursts of "ohhh and ahhh" in various inflections and languages. Unlike most race events, the fancy sports cars parked in the infield lots didn't belong to the drivers or team executives, but instead to the highly devoted sports car fans who attend the famous Twelve Hours of Sebring dressed in Mark Donohue shirts with prototype car silhouettes on their cap. NASCAR Hall of Famers Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte have competed at Sebring as have Ricky Rudd and Michael Waltrip . While no former NASCAR drivers were entered this weekend, Sprint Cup team owners Ganassi and Rob Kauffman, who competed here with Michael Waltrip in 2012, were on hand to see their Fords compete in what is considered one of the world's greatest races. Ganassi's team won this race in a prototype class car in 2014. "The big thing is to get some distance in them," Ford driver Joey Hand told the crowd Saturday. "But the cars look fast and they are fast." Going the distance is the big challenge. The brand new Ford GT EcoBoosts had a few hiccups in their Rolex 24 debut, but in all fairness, had only turned laps a couple weeks before the race during a massive test session. It was a tricky debut at Daytona for the new cars, but the team is quite confident it has learned from the growing pains and repaired the glitches. They led laps and kept pace at Daytona and Saturday was all about increasing the performance further. "The good thing about it all, and the thing we are pleased about, is the car is showing some pace, it is showing some opportunity, and overall we are happy that we have a fast car and we need to work on reliability,’" Ford Motor Company's executive vice president, Product Development, and chief technical officer, Raj Nair said after Daytona. "That's a lot better than having a slow car that's reliable, but you don't know how to get speed out of it. Overall, this is racing and this is what can happen in racing . If we don't win every race, we are disappointed, but at the same time we know how to fix our issues and we'll be better the next time we come out." The whole program is a major undertaking for Ganassi , who has won Daytona 500 , Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring trophies already. But the quest is as sentimental as it is ambitious. A win at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans is the next great trophy Ganassi desires -- and a victory there would certainly add to what is absolutely already one of the greatest resumes in racing history. "I think it’s obviously something that's been on our radar screen for a couple years," Ganassi said standing alongside his car Saturday, enjoying the large and curious crowd. "It's going to be a challenge and we're hopeful we can put Ford forward the way they want to be represented. We look forward to it. "The greatest events attract the greatest teams and the greatest challenges. That's why we look forward to it. "And it's nice to go over there with an American company. That's pretty cool."
Credit One bank partners with NASCAR, Chip Ganassi Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 12, 2016) – One of the largest and fastest growing credit card issuers in the United States, Credit One Bank has entered into a multi-year partnership with NASCAR to include official agreements with both the sanctioning body and one of the most successful teams in auto- racing , Chip Ganassi Racing . The collaborations designate Credit One Bank as the "Official Credit Card of NASCAR," in addition to being a partner of Chip Ganassi Racing . As part of the agreement with NASCAR, Credit One Bank will offer fans officially licensed NASCAR-themed credit cards. Credit One Bank will also be the primary sponsor of the No. 1 Chevrolet, piloted by "2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup " contender Jamie McMurray for three races, as well as an associate partner throughout the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) campaign. The No. 1 Credit One Bank Chevy SS will debut on the track at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on April 24. "Our partnerships with both NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing will introduce the benefits of Credit One Bank card membership to a new audience of consumers," said Laura Faulkner, vice president of marketing communications, Credit One Bank. "With the Official Credit Card of NASCAR, fans can further their love of racing with a rewards program that complements that same passion. We also look forward to supporting Jamie McMurray in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series." Credit One Bank offers full spectrum credit card products, and is among the top 10 largest Visa credit card issuers in the United States. Credit One Bank will offer cash back rewards, exclusive experiences, discounts, and special offers to their NASCAR Visa ® card members. The inaugural card design will feature NASCAR official marks and exciting race imagery, with additional designs to be released throughout the season. Fans can apply for the official NASCAR credit card by visiting www.CreditOneBank.com/NASCAR . "We could not be happier with Credit One Bank's fully integrated campaign to introduce its brand to our industry, stakeholders, and most importantly, our fans," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "As our entire industry gears up for Daytona 500 weekend, this new agreement signals that NASCAR is still one of the most effective marketing spends in all of sports." Credit One Bank will utilize 2010 Daytona 500 champion McMurray as a spokesperson to promote its brand and the Official Credit Card of NASCAR. The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season will be McMurray's 14th full-time year in NASCAR’s premier division. McMurray has seven career NSCS wins and 11 pole awards. McMurray is one of only three drivers to have won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in a single season (2010). "This announcement is really exciting news for our team, but it is also a testament to our sport when a company like Credit One Bank recognizes the power of brands like NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing . It is always nice to see new brands come to the sport and make a commitment like Credit One Bank has with this news," said Steve Lauletta, president, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. "We are excited to have Credit One Bank onboard the No. 1 Chevrolet with Jamie McMurray and look forward to working with them to introduce their products and services to NASCAR fans everywhere." The Credit One Bank NASCAR marketing campaign will also include national television advertising, network and satellite radio advertising, sweepstakes and promotions, at-track marketing, unique retail partnerships and card member experiences for NASCAR fans.
Brennan Poole to drive full-time for Chip Ganassi Racing in XFINITY Series
Brennan Poole will compete full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Chip Ganassi Racing this season, an opportunity that the Woodlands, Texas, native called "a dream come true." "It's emotional; you really can't put it into words," the 24-year-old told NASCAR.com. "To run for a championship at the NASCAR level is something I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember." CGR will field two XFINITY Series entries this year, the No. 48 Chevrolet for Poole with funding from DC Solar, and the No. 42 that will feature Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson for 17 races. A second driver has yet to be named for the No. 42 for the remaining 16 races. Former Roush Fenway Racing crew chief Chad Norris, paired with drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . (20 races) and Ryan Reed (13) last season, will serve as crew chief. "I'm confident that in our renewed partnership with Chip Ganassi , 2016 is going to be a winning season, and that DC Solar will continue to successfully engage and educate the NASCAR audience on solar energy and the DC Solar brand," Jeff Carpoff, president and CEO of DC Solar, said. "We couldn't be more excited to return to the track with Brennan and competing for a championship." Poole ran a limited schedule in '15, splitting seat time with Larson in the No. 42 entry when the organization ran under the HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing banner. In 17 starts, he finished in the top 15 on 10 occasions with a best result of ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . The Las Vegas start was his very first in the series. Much of the previous two seasons was spent as a spotter and working with Dartfish, a video software analysis program, "and just trying to get in a car whenever I could," Poole said. In spite of the limited seat time, Poole said he felt the team had "some great runs" last year. "Obviously we still want to improve on them and be better," he said. "I feel like we've shown at times we've been capable of really having not just a good weekend but a great weekend. As long as we continue to build on that and keep moving in the right direction, I'm really excited about what we can do." Poole, who has one career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, is a six-time winner in the ARCA Series. The full-time opportunity with Ganassi , which fields Sprint Cup entries for Larson and Jamie McMurray , is the latest step in what he hopes will be a long career behind the wheel. "I can't put into words what it means to be part of such a great team," Poole said. "There are only so many owners in the garage and I'm with one of the best. To have someone like that believe in you, it's crazy."
Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 NXS car chief passes away
Ryan Shea, car chief for the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, died Wednesday night at his home in Troutman, North Carolina, according to the team. He was 34. "It is a sad day for our team as we mourn the untimely loss of Ryan," team owner Chip Ganassi said in a team release. "Ryan was a dedicated worker and a great friend to those on our team, as well as others in the garage. Our hearts go out to Ryan’s family and friends during this difficult time." Shea had previously worked at Michael Waltrip Racing before joining CGR in 2015. Kyle Larson and Justin Marks have been behind the wheel of the No. 42 this season. My thoughts on the passing of Ryan Shea: pic.twitter.com/XzKUBibck1 — Justin Marks (@JMarksDE) March 31, 2016 "Ryan was a tremendous asset to Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 42 team and will be sorely missed," said crew chief Mike Shiplett. "My thoughts go out to his wife, children, family and friends in this time of mourning." Chip Ganassi Racing will communicate further details regarding funeral arrangements and memorials as they become available. A GoFundMe page has been established to take donations for Ryan's family -- go here to see it. Also, CGR cars will have a special decal on their Chevrolets this weekend. The NASCAR community collectively offered its condolences to the team and the Shea family on Twitter: Just heard the news of Ryan Shea passing away in his sleep. A great person and great worker in the industry.. Prayers with his wife & kids — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) March 31, 2016 Ryan Shea will be greatly missed by this community. He is a model to follow in this sport. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) March 31, 2016 Wow shocked to hear about the passing of Ryan Shea. He was my car chief in 2006. Thoughts and prayers to Cory and the Shea family. — Kevin Conway (@TheKevinConway) March 31, 2016 Very sad day @CGRnascar as we lost one of our teammates far too soon. Keep Ryan's family in prayers #RIPRyanShea https://t.co/lwHv4UwIUl — Steve Lauletta (@slauletta) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and prayers to Ryan Shea and his family — Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) March 31, 2016 It takes days like today to remember just how fragile life is. Shea was a great teammate and he is already deeply missed. — Ashley Parlett (@Just_AP) March 31, 2016 Thoughts and Prayers for Ryan Shea, his wife and kids! Such sad news. — Chris Osborne (@crazy_spotter) March 31, 2016
Tune-in: Watch Chip Ganassi Racing's 'Sound Garage'
Chip Ganassi Racing will host its second annual Sound Garage event on Monday evening at the team shop -- and you can watch the action on NASCAR.com. Following the success of last year's event, which is geared toward millenials, the 2015 outing will feature recording artist A Thousand Horses as well as Ganassi's diverse stable of young drivers. That list includes Kyle Larson , Sage Karam, Dylan Kwasniewski , Sebastian Saavedra and Brennan Poole . Tonight's stream will run from 8 to 9 p.m. ET. Come back then to watch the action.
Cain: Penske, Ganassi battling for early season supremacy
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings for the third consecutive week. Roger Penske's driver Brad Keselowski collected his second race trophy of the year on Sunday -- the first multi-time winner of the season. Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jamie McMurray is enjoying the best six-race start of his Daytona 500-winning career -- ranked ninth in the standings entering this weekend's race at Texas, despite a crash last week at Martinsville. Penske driver Joey Logano is fifth in the standings with a pole position at Phoenix and five top-six finishes through six races -- top-five showings in both the last two weeks. 2017 Stats: Logano " Keselowski " Larson " McMurray While these two great racing organizations -- Chevy's Ganassi and Ford's Penske -- have long settled trophies and championships between themselves in the open-wheel ranks, simultaneously leading the way in NASCAR is a relatively uncommon development. But certainly not unforeseen. And what makes this situation even more interesting is that these are two-car teams -- not the four-car mega-organizations like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or Stewart-Haas Racing , which have more frequently visited winner's circles and hoisted the champion’s hardware. Kurt Busch's dramatic final lap win in the Daytona 500 is the only victory thus far in 2017 for the three four-car teams that have dominated the landscape in recent years. Sure it’s early in the season, but the standings look as diverse as they ever have. Entering Sunday's O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Furniture Row Racing's two drivers -- Martin Truex Jr. and rookie Erik Jones are both ranked among the top-13 and Truex has a win. Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney -- a one-car operation with support from Penske -- is ranked seventh. RELATED: See the full standings " Who's earned the most stage points? Meanwhile, the larger teams are having an uncharacteristically and decidedly slower start to the year. Second-year driver Chase Elliott, 21, is setting the standard at Hendrick -- winless, but only four points behind the 24-year old Larson in the standings. Elliott's the only driver ranked among the top-five not from a two-car team and his three veteran teammates have ground you'd expect them to make up points-wise. Hendrick's Kasey Kahne is ranked 12th , reigning seven-time Monster Energy Series champion Jimmie Johnson is 14th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 25th -- a hefty 169 points behind Larson. No Hendrick driver has won a race in 2017. RELATED: Junior weighs in on slow start to 2017 Kyle Busch is leading the way for Joe Gibbs Racing -- ranked sixth, 80 points behind Larson. His teammate Denny Hamlin is 16th in the standings. Rookie Daniel Suarez is 21st and former champion Matt Kenseth is 22nd -- with three finishes of 36th or worse. No Gibbs driver has hoisted the hardware in 2017 either. Stewart-Haas' newest driver Clint Bowyer has been a bright light for Stewart-Haas outside of Busch's Daytona 500 win. Bowyer is ranked eighth -- his highest place atop the standings since he finished seventh in the 2015 season-opening Daytona 500. The last time he was ranked among the top-10 outside of Daytona was in 2014. Bowyer's teammate, 2014 Monster Energy Series champion Kevin Harvick is 10th in the standings with three finishes of 20th or worse through the opening six races. He was leading the standings at this time the past two seasons. After winning the Daytona 500 and finishing seventh the next week at Atlanta, Kurt Busch has suffered through four consecutive showings of 24th place or worse and has fallen to 19th in the points standings. His teammate Danica Patrick is ranked 29th. Her 17th place showing at Atlanta last month is the only top-20 for her so far this season. Yes, it's early in the year. And drivers such as Johnson -- a six-time winner at this week's Texas venue, Kyle Busch, Harvick and Hamlin are traditional trophy sure-bets. But the Ganassi and Penske organizations know a little something about winning championships too. And so far, they are well-positioned to make a run at the mega-teams who are less accustomed to playing catch-up, even this early in the season. Both Ganassi and Penske are among the most respected, decorated and competitive people in the garage with records and statistics to verify the stature -- in NASCAR and beyond. Ganassi holds the record for most Rolex 24 at Daytona wins (six), has won the 12 Hours of Sebring and won in class at the 24 Hours of LeMans in addition to his 11 IndyCar season titles and four Indy 500 wins. Penske is the reigning IndyCar champion team owner -- for the 14th time -- and has an incredible 16 Indy 500 wins in addition to his 2012 NASCAR title (Keselowski) and two Daytona 500 wins (Ryan Newman in 2008 and Logano in 2015). How many people would have predicted that come the second week of April either the Hendrick or Gibbs organizations would be winless? RELATED: NASCAR executive says more drivers have an opportunity to win But it's a reflection as much on the other teams -- Ganassi , Penske, Furniture Row, Wood Brothers and Richard Childress -- who have picked up the pace. The situation shows off NASCAR's talent diversity and speaks volumes about the ever-increasing intrigue and all around competitive level. Everyone's raising their game. And the big winner is the fan. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p
Gordon, Ganassi teams headline stout field at Roar Before the 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will headline the list of drivers participating in this weekend's Roar Before the 24 on Daytona International Speedway 's road course. And the traditional three-day test for IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Series' season-opening Rolex 24 once again features a talented and diverse driver lineup. For only the second time in his renowned career, Gordon will be among those testing at Daytona in preparation for the Jan. 28-29 race, widely seen as the traditional start to America's big league motorsports season. Gordon will co-drive the No. 10 Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA Cadillac DPi-V.R prototype for Wayne Taylor Racing -- the same team he finished third overall with in his only other Rolex start in 2007. The laps this weekend will be crucial for the team -- which also includes drivers Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli -- since it got limited time on track in a less formal test session at Daytona in December. "I had so much fun the first time I did this," Gordon said. "And at this point of my life and career (winning the Rolex 24) would be huge. When I came here in 2007 I was just kind of along for the ride. When you really realize how important this race is, is on race day when you see the hype and buildup and then the challenges you face over 24 hours. That's what makes this race so thrilling. I'd be very proud (if we won)." This year's Rolex 24 will mark the debut of new racing classifications for IMSA. Gordon's car will be among 12 vying in the headline Prototype class. In all, 50 cars representing four classifications are expected at Daytona this weekend and later this month competing in the twice-around-the-clock race. Some of NASCAR's other big name drivers who previously competed in the Rolex -- Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson , for example -- are not participating. However their NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi still has three cars entered in the GT LeMans (GTLM) class. This team won in class at LeMans last year, and Chip Ganassi Racing is already the most decorated team in Rolex history with six overall victories. Former NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year Andy Lally as well as popular drivers Boris Said and Scott Pruett will be competing alongside IndyCar greats such as Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais. Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and IndyCar championship contender Graham Rahal will team up as well. Five-time Rolex champion Pruett will be steering the new Lexus in the 25-car GT Daytona class. A sixth Rolex watch would make him the winningest driver in the great race's history, breaking a tie with the legendary Hurley Haywood. The traditional Roar Before the 24 gets underway Friday. Teams return to the World Center of Racing on Thursday, Jan. 26 for practice and pole qualifying in preparation for the green flag at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28.
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