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Costly pit mistake for Pruett and No. 01 team
The No. 01 team cannot get the left-rear tire secured and a penalty results after Scott Pruett accidentally hits his crewmember.
Story lines heading into Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- When the green flag falls on the 54th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona Saturday, history will be made on multiple fronts. The twice-around-the-clock sports car endurance race is the first major event to take place in the newly reimagined Daytona International Speedway , where a $400 million DAYTONA Rising makeover debuts this weekend. Multiple escalator-fed "injectors" plus a bevy of elevators mean that even if your seats are on the very top row of the stadium, you won't have to take more than 20 stair-steps to get to your seat. "We can't wait to show off what we've done," said Joie Chitwood III, track president. "I think our fans will be amazed." FORD GT MAKES HISTORIC RETURN: As the legend goes, Henry Ford II was so angry at Enzo Ferrari, who had rudely rebuffed Ford's attempt to buy his company, that Ford swore on the spot that he’d build a car that would trounce Ferrari at its favorite playground, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And, with the help of the legendary Carroll Shelby, that's what happened. That was 50 years ago, and Ford is returning to Le Mans this year with a brand-new Ford GT, based on the street car that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2015. That road to Le Mans starts this weekend at Daytona, as two Ford GTs, fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing , will make their first-ever laps in competition. And that competition is tough, with Ferrari, BMW, Porsche and the Chevrolet Corvette hoping to spoil the party. The Ford GT drivers are top-tier, with Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais in one car, Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Stefan Mucke in other. Hand and Bourdais are both previous overall winners of the Rolex 24. STAR CAR: While Chip Ganassi Racing has its hands full with the new GT Le Mans Ford GT effort, the overall winning team from the 2015 race returns in the Prototype class with a two-car team to defend its crown. Typically one Ganassi car has sports car veterans, while the other, often referred to as the "star car," has stars from other series who drive for Ganassi teams in IndyCar and NASCAR. And that’s no different this year. Indianapolis 500 winners and IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan share the Ford EcoBoost-Riley they drove to victory a year ago along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson . The six-time Rolex 24 winning team also will field a Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype for Alex Wurz, Brendon Hartley, Andy Priaulx and Lance Stroll, sports car pros in their own right. WHERE'S SCOTT PRUETT ? It has been years since veteran Scott Pruett has driven anything but Ganassi cars, and most recently Fords, but for 2016's Rolex 24, he’s part of a Chevrolet-powered Prototype team. Pruett teams up with Action Express Racing in a bid for an unprecedented sixth overall win, and he definitely chose a contending team, with defending and two-time WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, as well as 2013 Rolex 24 GT winner Felix Albuquerque. For the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the next round of the WeatherTech Championship on March 19, Pruett will move to Action Express' No. 31 Corvette DP, co-driving with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. ALL-NEW GT DAYTONA FIELD: The Rolex 24 sanctioning body, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), changed the rules during the off-season in the largest of the four classes of cars, GT Daytona, making the production car-based class subject to global GT3 technical specifications. The cars will race in the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, which kicks off at Daytona. GT3-specification cars are raced all over the world, which makes manufacturers more eager to build the cars, given the massive market. That means an all-new look for most of the 22 cars in the GT Daytona class this year, plus some new competitors. The field goes, for instance, from zero Lamborghinis in 2015 to five this year. Four teams will field a total of five Lamborghini Huracán GT3s, led by defending GTD class champions Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, who move over from Ferrari. Porsche also has a five-car entry among four teams. Andy Pilgrim, a three-time Rolex 24 class winner, makes his return to the WeatherTech Championship with Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Nicky Catsburg in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche entry. Three teams have chosen Audi for the debut of the R8 LMS GT3. Stevenson Motorsports will field a pair of Audis, and Magnus Racing moves to Audi with Andy Lally , John Potter and Rene Rast from its 2012 Rolex 24 class-winning lineup in the No. 44 car. Flying Lizard Motorsports also will field an Audi R8. Turner Motorsport debuts a pair of brand-new BMW M6 GT3s. Scuderia Corsa, the 2015 GTD team champion, sticks with Ferrari but has a new lineup with Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Jeff Segal and Robert Renauer driving the No. 63 Ferrari 458 GT3. They are joined by Spirit of Race, with the No. 51 Hublot/Global Jet entry. Riley Motorsports returns with the Dodge Viper that captured GTD honors in the 2015 Rolex 24 with two entries. And Aston Martin returns with two cars, one from TRG-AMR, one from Aston Martin Racing. The 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona is the start of the 2016 IMSA season. U.S. television coverage begins on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30. International coverage is available throughout the race on IMSA.tv and the IMSA mobile app.
Attrition claims early favorites in Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2016) -- While the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in the race's history, attrition has claimed a handful of favorites as the race hits the halfway mark and the second segment of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. At the conclusion of the 12th hour, multiple cars remain on the lead lap in all four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, but it's the cars that are no longer in contention that are the story. Among those: the early favorites in both the Prototype and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, and last year's overall race winner. The action started in the eighth hour when Tony Kanaan, driving the defending race-winning No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, went behind the wall with a brake issue while running second. One hour later, the class of the Prototype field retired when Ozz Negri pulled the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Tire Kingdom Honda Ligier JS P2 off the track with an engine failure while leading. That left the battle for the Prototype lead and the race for the maximum five Patrón Endurance Cup points awarded at the 12-hour mark to none other than the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP of Scott Pruett -- who enters the race tied with Hurley Haywood with five overall Rolex 24 wins -- and the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 of Pipo Derani. Derani passed Pruett with five minutes remaining in the segment to earn the maximum five points. Through two segments the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 and the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP -- which finished the second segment in third -- lead the Prototype class with seven points in the four-race competition that makes up the four longest endurance races in the WeatherTech Championship. The Michael Shank Racing entry also has seven points, but is out of the race and will score the minimum two points in the two remaining segments. A major shakeup also occurred in the GTD class in the 10th hour. The No. 16 Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Justin Marks and the No. 48 Castrol/Universal Industrial Services Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Bryce Miller collided in Turn 1 while battling for the lead, knocking both out of contention. The No. 48 Lamborghini is tied for the Patrón Endurance Cup lead at seven points with the race-leading No. 23 Team Seattle/Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. The No. 52 Professional Security Consultants ORECA FLM09 of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has led at the end of both segments to lead in PC with 10 points, while the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR team leads the way with nine points in GTLM. The No. 912 Porsche is second with seven points, along with the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE which leads at halfway. The Patrón Endurance Cup will continue with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta.
'The Big One' tangles 21 cars with 28 laps left at 'Dega
RELATED: Keselowski wins chaos-filled race at Talladega " Full race results "The Big One" came with 28 laps to go in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when Kurt Busch 's No. 41 car hooked the bumper of the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson to send it spinning into the outside wall, tangling 21 cars in the impact by the time the pileup was totaled. "The No. 41 (of Kurt Busch ) was bump drafting me and caused that wreck and just kept hitting me and finally ended up taking me out in the process," Johnson said. " ... He got me coming out of the tri-oval. He got me going in and through and I was trying to stay on top of it and finally he got me once too hard and off I went." Johnson was running in fifth place at the time of the incident. The full list of cars involved in the accident included: No. 78 Martin Truex Jr ., No. 3 Austin Dillon , No. 47 AJ Allmendinger , No. 1 Jamie McMurray , No. 95 Michael McDowell , No. 7 Regan Smith , No. 42 Kyle Larson , No. 48 Johnson, No. 27 Paul Menard , No. 31 Ryan Newman , No. 44 Brian Scott , No. 35 David Gilliland , No. 10 Danica Patrick , No. 41 Busch, No. 18 Kyle Busch , No. 38 Landon Cassill , No. 43 Aric Almirola , No. 21 Ryan Blaney , No. 16 Greg Biffle , No. 11 Denny Hamlin and No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . "There was a lot of hard racing and people being aggressive," Blaney said. "I don't know what caused that. A little of it might have been the weather threat. I think early in the race for sure. With 40 or 50 to go they said there might be some more weather so that might have played a role in it." RELATED: Kenseth, Patrick crash hard in final laps at Talladega Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 was leading at the time of the wreck, and escaped the pileup as collisions took place behind him -- and Kes would go on to win the race. RELATED: Closer look at 'The Big One' " Updated standings
The Rundown: Talladega driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway : 1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski stayed out of trouble all day, and that was the difference in picking up his second win of the year and fourth at Talladega. Big pushes from Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch helped, too. Keselowski led a race-high 46 laps, including the final 17. Grade: A+ 2. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. The No. 18 was stout all day and kept Busch ahead of the crashes, although the 18 did receive a nudge at the outset of the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. He finished second for the second consecutive week for his eighth top-five finish of the season. Grade: A+ 3. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Car chief Greg Osborne summed up Dillon's day on Twitter: "We pitted 17 times. Wrecked 4 times. Ran out of tires. We were 32nd 1 lap down. We NEVER quit." Dillon was thrilled with the finish and credited the team for not panicking: "It was wrecked, and we finished third!" Grade: A+ 4. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Despite being collected in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, McMurray scored his first top five of the season. It was his seventh at Talladega, tying the superspeedway with Charlotte for McMurray's most top-five finishes. Grade: A 5. Chase Elliott, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott started from the pole and led the first 13 laps and 27 overall. Even though he posted his third top-five finish in the past four races, Elliott said the No. 24 team was "pretty lucky to get where we got to." He avoided trouble -- and all the wrecks -- by running near the front most of the race. Grade: A 6. Tony Stewart /Ty Dillon, No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart made his second start of the season, but unlike last week at Richmond, he didn't finish the race. Stewart, who missed the first eight races of the season because of a back injury, gave way to Dillon -- as planned -- during the second caution. Dillon then navigated through two big, multicar accidents to bring home the No. 14 with its second top 10 of the season. Stewart gets the points and the top-10 finish, but it doesn't take away the spotlight from Dillon. Grade: A+ 7. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Bowyer survived involvement in the 12-car wreck on Lap 161 to post his best finish of the season and second top 10 in the past three races. Grade: A 8. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Busch was the catalyst for the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 when he got into the back of Jimmie Johnson while running in the top 10. Busch emerged unscathed to restart fourth. Later, he couldn't hold the lead after the last restart on Lap 186 and is now 0-for-61 in restrictor-plate races. Grade: C. 9. Ryan Blaney, No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney survived the 21-car wreck on Lap 161, and the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 happened right behind him. His good fortune resulted in his third top 10 of the season. Grade: A 10. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. A speeding penalty on his first pit stop was no omen. Bayne spent plenty of time in the top five on Sunday, while leading 22 laps. (He led 12 laps in the previous nine races.) His average running position was 8.6, fourth best, and that -- along with good fortune -- kept him out of every wreck Sunday. Grade: A 11. Landon Cassill, No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Cassill had an eventful day to find himself just outside the top 10 with one lap to go after surviving a pit-road penalty on his first stop and eluding big trouble in the race's two biggest multicar wrecks. But his grade drops a notch because it was Cassill who started the final multicar wreck. He was running 12th when he turned Cole Whitt into Kevin Harvick , touching off a seven-car wreck and a caution just before the leaders reached the finish line. Grade: B- 12. Michael Waltrip , No. 55 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Making his 60th start at Talladega, Waltrip posted his best finish at the superspeedway since finishing fourth three years ago. Waltrip survived an early scare on Lap 59 when Joey Logano pushed Martin Truex Jr . into the back of Waltrip, who was running fifth at the time. Waltrip went onto the apron but came back onto the track and spun, narrowly avoiding contact. Grade: B+ 13. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing. Truex was running in the top 10 immediately behind Kurt Busch when Busch made contact with Jimmie Johnson to ignite the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Truex's Toyota returned to the track all taped up before sustaining even more damage in the seven-car wreck that happened just before Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag. Grade: B- 14. AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. The multicar wreck at the finish had Allmendinger on his knees next to his battered Chevrolet, but it couldn't overshadow his fourth top-15 finish at Talladega in 13 starts and his first lap led of the season. Grade: B 15. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick raced among the leaders for most of the afternoon and led four times for nine laps before sliding across the finish line sideways in a damaged car, one of seven cars involved in a crash leading up to the checkered flag. Grade : A 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Stenhouse was able to avoid major damage in the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 but sustained heavy damage coming to the finish line when he was collected in the seven-car pileup. Grade: B 17. David Gilliland , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Gilliland survived the late wrecks for a top-20 finish in first start of the season (he failed to qualify at Daytona). It was his best finish since an 11th in the 2015 Daytona 500 . Grade: B 18. Cole Whitt, No. 98 Toyota, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was just outside the top 10 with one lap to go but couldn't improve his position before taking a hard hit against the outside wall as he approached the finish line. It was the fifth top-20 finish of his career and first since his career-best 13th at Talladega a year ago. Grade: A 19. Bobby Labonte , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing. Making his second start of the season (he finished 31st at Daytona), Labonte avoided major damage in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181 and scored his first top 20 since the 2014 Daytona 500 . Grade: A 20. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. That Biffle finished 20th should come as little surprise. His average finish at Talladega is 19.7, and he finished 20th last October at Talladega, too. Grade: C 21. Michael McDowell, No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. McDowell produced his second-best finish of the season (he finished 15th at Daytona) despite being involved in two of the day's biggest wrecks along with drawing the ire of Danica Patrick . Grade: B- 22. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. The No. 48 was caught up in two wrecks, the second the 21-car monster on Lap 161, which sent the 48 to the garage for repairs. Johnson returned and finished six laps down. Grade: C 23. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hard-luck Kenseth's eventful day didn't end when his car got airborne after contact from Danica Patrick and came down on its roof on the backstretch with eight laps to go. Well after the race, he had heated words for nemesis Joey Logano , who had forced him below the yellow line with 15 laps to go. Those two events obscure the fact Kenseth led 39 laps, second only to winner Brad Keselowski 's 46. Grade: B 24. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick's race ended with her hitting the inside wall violently with eight laps to go after contact from behind by Michael McDowell . "I've hit the inside wall of a superspeedway I think maybe like four times now and that was the worst," she said. "I know I got drilled from behind and turned sideways … and hello wall." Grade: C 25. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Logano was still sore from his wreck on the final lap of Saturday's XFINITY race, and his day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. His aggressive driving initiated the second caution, and there also was his contact with Matt Kenseth that resulted in an earful from Kenseth after the race. Logano didn't want to discuss what Kenseth said, instead saying, "Two days in a row, a couple big hits; can't wait to get out of this place." Grade: C- 26. Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard was in the top 10 having a good run -- but at the wrong time. He was running beside Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson on the outside when Busch turned Johnson right into Menard's Chevrolet, setting off the 21-car wreck on Lap 161. Twenty laps later Menard's day ended in the 12-car wreck on Lap 181. Grade: C 27. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola was collected in two wrecks, with the second one, a 12-car mashup on the backstretch with eight laps to go providing the knockout blow to the No. 43. Grade: C 28. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman was running around 15th place when the 21-car wreck on Lap 161 began right in front of him. His Chevrolet sustained damage and left the scene trailing flames. He finished 10 laps back. Grade: D 29. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson led nine laps and had the lead three-quarters of the way through the race. Larson was running just outside the top 10 when Kurt Busch hit the back of Jimmie Johnson two cars in front him, touching off a 21-car accident that collected his Chevrolet. Grade: C 30. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The rookie's promising day was derailed after the big wreck on Lap 161. He finished 16 laps back, his most off the lead this season. Grade: D 31. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin's trouble on the track extended to pit road, where he had two incidents and several penalties. He also sustained damage in the 21-car pileup on Lap 161. Grade: D- 32. Regan Smith, No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Smith was running in the top 10 with 30 laps to go but was collected the Lap 161 wreck and finished 20 laps back. Grade: D 33. Casey Mears, No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. Mears spun into Aric Almirola on Lap 59 after he was hit by Michael Waltrip , sending the No. 13 to the garage for repairs. It wasn't Mears' fault, but he still finished 22 laps back. Grade: C 34. David Ragan, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Ragan was running 24th and within a second of the lead when his engine expired on Lap 151. Grade: D 35. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards' two-race winning streak came to an abrupt halt. On Lap 110 "something let go" and the No. 19 ran up the track and pinned Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s No. 88 to the wall, ending the day for both drivers. Grade: F 36. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. The No. 83 suffered damage in the first wreck of the race. Engine issues ended his day after 98 laps run. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. Just past the halfway point, Buescher's car became the first of the day to go airborne and flip. Buescher called the wreck "miserable" and a "bummer." He was right. Grade: F 38. Michael Annett, No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. Annett was collected in the same wreck that sent Chris Buescher flipping. Annett's Chevrolet smashed hard into the inside wall, ending his day. Grade: F 39. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne followed his best finish of the season (fourth at Richmond) with a two-crash dud, the second a single-car accident that brought out the fifth caution. Grade: F 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Terrible day for the 88. Earnhardt's first crash was similar to his crash in the Daytona 500 -- the back of his car came around. "We missed something this morning," he said. "It shouldn't have been on the splitter that hard." Then when he returned to the track after repairs, his steering wheel came off. On Lap 110, Earnhardt's day ended when Carl Edwards ran up the track and smashed into his Chevrolet. Grade: F.
Larson, McMurray to drive in Rolex 24 At Daytona
Chip Ganassi Racing's Sprint Cup drivers will help pilot one entry Chip Ganassi Racing announced Thursday that Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the season-opening event in the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammates for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be making return trips to the 24-hour endurance event, which will take place Jan. 24-25 at Daytona International Speedway . They will team with a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners in Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan for a four-driver effort in the No. 02 Ford-powered Riley Daytona Prototype chassis. McMurray will mark his seventh appearance in the road-racing classic; his best Rolex 24 finish was a runner-up performance in 2011. Larson, the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Sprint Cup Series, will be making his second Rolex 24 start, one year after finishing 15th overall in the No. 02 with Dixon, Kanaan and Marino Franchitti. Ganassi will also field the No. 01 entry for primary driver Scott Pruett , who has scored all five of his Rolex 24 triumphs with the venerable team owner. Pruett will team with road racer Joey Hand, IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball and developmental driver Sage Karam. "I love this race because it is one of the few times that we are able to bring all of our drivers and partners together in one race," Ganassi said. "NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA drivers and partners are all represented in this unique endurance event. We have had the good fortune of having success in this event, which is the result of a lot of hard work by the crew, talent behind the wheel and at some level, a little luck. But I think the best thing about the Rolex 24 is that it is the first event of another season. I can't wait." The 53rd running of the Rolex 24 signals not only the kickoff event for the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, but also offers a prelude to Daytona's Speedweeks MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Rolex 24 At Daytona impossible to predict
Strong field includes Sprint Cup Series drivers and actor Patrick Dempsey DAYTONA BEACH -- When the checkered flag falls on the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona at 2:10 p.m. Sunday afternoon, there's only one thing we now know for sure: The car that's the first under the flag will have earned the victory. "This is a strong field," said Scott Atherton, IMSA president and chief operating officer. "A very strong field." That may be an understatement. One year ago, the 2014 Rolex 24 was the first race for the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which consisted of the combined GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Cars, personnel and schedules were combined, and no one really knew what would happen the first time the new TUDOR Championship took to the track. What happened was a race that ran at an absolutely frantic pace for the full 24 hours. Long gone are the days where teams could cruise at 90 percent, saving their equipment for the last few hours. Now, it's flat out, all day and all night. Bringing home the overall victory last year was the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais. That car was followed by three more Corvette DPs and a Nissan ORECA P2 car in fifth. For 2015, there are four Corvette DPs in the field, including the No. 5 Action Express entry, all sporting the new Stingray styling in the front and rear. For the stars to align and have all four Corvettes up front again is a long shot – even through the top three cars were all on the same lap at the finish, 695 laps after the start – the Prototype field is very strong this year. There are 16 Prototypes, including a pair of brand-new Honda HPD ARX cars racing under the Tequila Patrón ESM banner, as well as a Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 that Michael Shank Racing is bringing to the party. There's another new Ligier fielded by Krohn Racing, but it has Judd power. Mazda is back for its second year with a pair of diesel-powered Prototypes built and raced by SpeedSource that are showing a lot more speed than last year. And you can never count out the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates twins, both powered by Ford EcoBoost engines in Riley chassis. With a driver lineup that includes Scott Pruett , Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Kyle Larson , Jamie McMurray , Joey Hand, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam, the two Ganassi cars have to be counted among the favorites. And, of course, there's those other three Corvette DPs – the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP, a sister car to the Action Express No. 5; the VisitFlorida.com No. 90 and the always-formidable Konica Minolta No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing, which has brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor teaming with veteran Max Angelelli. Looking for a dark horse? The DeltaWing Racing Cars Claro/TracFone was fast in practice, as was the Starworks Dinan-powered Riley, which has an all-star driver lineup that includes Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rubens Barrichello. Of the four classes racing in the Rolex 24, the aforementioned Prototypes are the fastest, but not far behind are the open-cockpit Prototype Challenge cars, which use ORECA FLM09 chassis and Chevrolet engines. It's tough to pick a favorite from the eight entries, but expect the Starworks No. 8, the CORE Autosport No. 54, the RSR Racing No. 11 and the BAR1 Motorsport No. 16 to contend during the 24 hours. The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class is invariably among the most competitive and the highest profile, as the production-based cars are all backed by the manufacturers, and bragging rights are a strong motivation. Corvette Racing has its usual two-car entry and is always a threat to win, especially at a horsepower track like Daytona. There are three Porsche 911 RSR entries, two backed by Porsche North America, and one by Falken Tire, coming off an end-of-the-season victory at the 2014 Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. The Bobby Rahal-led BMW Team RLL has a pair of BMW Z4 GTEs, and there are two Ferrari F458 Italias, one from AF Corse and one from Risi Competizione. But don't forget the lone Gulf-sponsored Aston Martin Vantage V8, which has a world-class roster of drivers. At 19, the largest of the four classes is GT Daytona (GTD), which – like GTLM, are familiar production-based cars – but don't have quite the power, or the price tag, of the GTLM entries. GTD is impossible to handicap, though the fact that there are nine Porsche 911 GT Americas in the field gives them the numerical advantage. There are three Ferrari 458 Italias, two Aston-Martin V12 Vantages, two Dodge Viper SRTs, a pair of Audi R8 LMS entries, and a lone BMW Z4, but that car is fielded by he respected Turner Motorsport, so don't write it off. If you have to play favorites, the two Alex Job-prepared Porsches (Nos. 22 and 23) should be there in the end, because few have mastered race strategy as well as Job. The No. 63 Ferrari of Scuderia Corsa seems to love the longer races, as does the Magnus Racing No. 44 Porsche. If you are looking for star power, that would be the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Brumos Porsche, with "Grey's Anatomy" actor Patrick Dempsey leading the four-driver team. Bottom line: Don't expect a runaway winner in any of the four classes – competition is simply too strong. Weather could be a factor, if the forecast for some damp weather for the weekend comes true – some cars, and some drivers, seem to thrive on wet pavement, and a slick surface tends to cripple the highest-horsepower entries, leveling the playing field and enhancing the importance of driver finesse. So keep your money in your pocket this weekend – the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona is simply too close to call. The Rolex 24 at Daytona will be broadcast from 2-4 p.m. Saturday on FOX; 4-8 p.m. on FOX Sports 2; 8-10 p.m. on FOX Sports 1; 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on IMSA.com , and on Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1. All times are Eastern. For more information on where to watch or listen to the 2015 Rolex 24, log onto IMSA.com .
McMurray, Montoya to drive in Rolex 24 for Ganassi
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper. Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett , Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Jamie McMurray -- and team owner Chip Ganassi. Grand-Am Road Racing got one of those cards. On Tuesday, Grand-Am - and its fans -- got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona (Jan. 29-30), one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley prototype by Grand-Am veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IndyCar Series. In the No. 02 Telmex/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets -- two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti. Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s. Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not. Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season -- and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series: Pruett and Rojas dominated the Grand-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time; McMurray won the marquee event in the Sprint Cup Series, plus the Brickyard 400; and Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours." Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers. McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and Grand-Am sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time. "They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his Grand-Am guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there." Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the Roar Before the Rolex 24 -- is Friday-Sunday at Daytona. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.
Logano leads final practice, No. 14 team practices switch
Practice 2: Full results Joey Logano launched to the fastest speed in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway . Logano, winner of the series' most recent race here last October, posted a best lap of 196.290 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford. He was just .013 seconds ahead of Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Blaney , second-fastest at 196.238 mph in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford. Fellow rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 196.185 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Danica Patrick (195.094 mph) and rookie Brian Scott completed the top five in the final 55-minute prep for Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Few drivers participated in large packs, with most spending time concentrating on single-car runs to prepare for Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX). But with inclement weather in Saturday's forecast, several drivers attempted to better their position in the practice order should qualifying be washed out. Among those was Blaney, one of five drivers attempting to qualify for the four starting berths reserved for open, non-chartered teams. He received aerodynamic help from Logano, whose Penske team shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers, a fellow Ford operation. Ty Dillon , on standby for Tony Stewart in his second race back from a back injury, was 16th-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet. The team spent the majority of the session practicing in the garage for a quick driver change, something the team plans to do midstream in Sunday's 500-miler as Stewart eases his way back from his injuries. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . was seventh-fastest at 193.584 mph around the 2.66-mile track. Practice 1: Full results Two-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jamie McMurray topped opening practice. The wheelman of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 199.737 mph. Rookie Chase Elliott was second-fastest during the 55-minute session, propelling the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet around the 2.66-mile track at 199.729 mph. Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kurt Busch rounded out the top three with his No. 41 coming in at 199.409 mph. Busch's teammate Danica Patrick was next in her No. 10 Chevrolet (199.384 mph) while the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne earned the fifth-quickest lap (199.317 mph). The back-to-back race winner of 2016, Carl Edwards was 23rd (196.552 mph) in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Tony Stewart and Ty Dillon took turns wheeling the No. 14 throughout practice and earned 29th (195.884 mph). Dillon will fill in as a relief driver for "Smoke" during qualifying and the 500-mile event. Six-time Talladega winner, and defending race champ, Dale Earnhardt Jr . finished practice 32nd (195.150 mph).
Sprint Cup qualifying order for Talladega
# Car Driver Team 1 7 Regan Smith Golden Corral Chevrolet 2 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Hungry Jack/Crisco Chevrolet 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 4 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 5 83 Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 6 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 7 30 * Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 8 32 Bobby Labonte Rimrock Devlin Ford 9 23 David Ragan Schluter Systems Toyota 10 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Nationwide Chevrolet 11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 12 43 Aric Almirola Fresh From Florida Ford 13 14 Ty Dillon (i) Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 14 15 Clint Bowyer AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet 15 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 16 34 Chris Buescher # Love's Travel Stops/CSX-Play it Safe Ford 17 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fifth Third Bank Ford 18 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 19 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota 20 78 Martin Truex Jr Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota 21 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 22 44 Brian Scott # Twisted Tea Ford 23 38 Landon Cassill FR8Auctions Ford 24 3 Austin Dillon Dow - Energy & Water/Intellifresh Chevrolet 25 98 * Cole Whitt RticCoolers.com Toyota 26 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 27 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Marvel Toyota 28 35 * David Gilliland Shaw's Southern Belle Seafood Ford 29 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 30 55 * Michael Waltrip Peak & BlueDEF Toyota 31 16 Greg Biffle Ford EcoBoost Ford 32 95 Michael McDowell Thrivent Financial Chevrolet 33 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet 34 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 35 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 36 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Fishing Chevrolet 37 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 38 10 Danica Patrick Aspen Dental Chevrolet 39 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Chevrolet 40 24 Chase Elliott # NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 41 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series