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Max Papis starts NASCAR Whelen Euro Series team
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Rusty Wallace set to hit the road at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace has hoisted the sport's biggest trophies and competed on its largest stages. And this week at Daytona International Speedway the former stock car champion will be bringing his A-game again competing against some of sports car racing’s best in the Ferrari Finali Mondiali. It is the first time this renowned Ferrari event has been held in the United States and both Wallace and the Speedway are eager to be a part of this internationally famed race weekend. "We're really excited," Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. "It's all coming together now, the trucks are moving in today. We had the car show last weekend. It's been really exciting to see all this come together in the last couple weeks, but we've been working on it since April. "It's the first time this event has ever been hosted in North America and what better place than the International Center of Racing and the new Daytona International Speedway , the world's only motorsports stadium. It feels like a fitting backdrop for one of the premier Ferrari events in the world." Wallace won't just be representing NASCAR by his presence, he's going to compete – driving for the Risi Competizione/Ferrari of Houston team in the North America series of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. To prepare, the 1989 NASCAR premier series champion spent two days testing the Risi Ferrari at America's current Formula One venue, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. And he’ll have opportunity to test on the Daytona road course before the weekend’s race. "I'm really serious about it and will do best job I can in the time I've got," Wallace said. "This will be real exciting and the team I'm driving for just won the Petit LeMans. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a lot of fun. I could have just showed up at Daytona. … but I didn't want to look stupid that's why I went to Austin, to get to know the car and know the team." This will be the second time Wallace has competed on Daytona's 3.56-mile road course. He co-drove as part of a team with Danica Patrick in the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona, but their sports car had a mechanical failure and did not finish the event. Wallace is optimistic and he has plenty of reason. He is long considered one of NASCAR's premier road racers. He earned two poles and two wins (1990 and 1996) at Sonoma and a pole and a pair of wins (1987 and 1989) at Watkins Glen, N.Y. He also scored back-to-back wins (1987-88) at the Riverside road course that’s no longer on the circuit. "I had really good success at Riverside, Watkins Glen and Sonoma , those were all good tracks for me," Wallace said. "So I told them, 'sure,' I'd love to come down and have some fun "I'm a Ferrari lover. When I found out I was going to compete, I said, I've got to get all right with this. So I spoke with (driver) Max Papis and he shared a couple things. The big deal was actually getting some time in a car before Daytona." The Ferrari Finali Mondiali, which Wallace will compete in, is a four-day World Championship event featuring Ferrari Challenge teams from the Europe, North American and Asia Pacific series. Additionally, fans will be treated to the displays of historic Formula One cars and for the first time ever at Daytona, F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will drive in a Formula One. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers will also treat fans to fast laps and pit stop demonstrations. "Rusty's really excited and I think this is a unique opportunity for him and for us being able to promote the event through the eyes of a NASCAR champion," Wile said. "It's going to be quite the experience. Rusty is such a great ambassador for our sport and this is going to be fun to watch."
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