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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.
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.
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.
Moffitt hopes third-place run opens more doors
RELATED: Full race results LONG POND, Pa. -- Brett Moffitt finished the 2015 season as the Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. He started the 2016 season without a ride -- in any national series. After completing his rookie campaign behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports ride currently inhabited by reigning XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher, Moffitt found himself seatless heading into this season with more questions than answers regarding his career trajectory. Fill-in duty came calling earlier this month as Red Horse Racing needed a driver for its No. 11 Toyota at Kentucky, with Matt Tifft sidelined following surgery to remove a low-grade brain tumor. After starting second, an engine failure while running in the top five relegated Moffitt to a 31st-place finish. RELATED: Tifft tweets upbeat video post-surgery The 23-year-old was again behind the wheel at Pocono Raceway for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150, carving his way through the field -- and a wreck-heavy, race-record nine cautions -- to finish third after starting 15th. Despite the lack of seat time this season, it appears Moffitt hasn't forgotten what to do when his team gives him a machine capable of competing. "We didn't make a single adjustment on it during the race; we really had a good truck. (Crew chief) Scott (Zipadelli) called a great race; great strategy. Got us up front when it mattered," Moffitt said. " … We were actually really lucky (to stay out of the wrecks). It seemed like when it happened, it would happen right in front of us, so we were able to duck to the bottom and avoid before cars get stacked up three and four-wide trying to avoid it and you get forced into a lane. "It worked out alright for us, we just saw a lot of attrition right in front of us. Part of qualifying getting rained out was that we started mid-pack and we had to do what the leaders didn't. So that's why we went with that strategy and it ended up working out, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking through the middle section of the race there." With the finish -- his best across all NASCAR national series in 43 starts -- Moffitt is hoping it results in keeping his name fresh in people's minds, as he has no other opportunities lined up at the current moment. Regardless, he'll be ready at the drop of a hat should any team, Red Horse Racing included, call him up for a spot start or more. "(Red Horse) like to keep it last minute, so I found out about a week ago Friday," he said. "It's a little stressful during that week to get everything ready and it's hard on the guys at the shop, but they do a great job adjusting to multiple drivers this year and they continue to prove that. "I don't think I've had a clear path my whole career. I've kind of been riding each opportunity I get, you know? Last year it was in the 55 car when Brian (Vickers) was out and this year it's in the 11 truck with Matt Tifft being out. Not the way I want to get opportunities, by someone else's hard fortune, but it's good to make the most of them. "Hopefully this opens the door for some more races."
Truex tames Pocono for Coors Light Pole Award
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car in the field LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr. found a lot more than light at the end of the Tunnel on Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Gaining time on the rest of the field through Turn 2—the Tunnel Turn—at the 2.5-mile triangular race track, Truex put his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on the pole for Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400 (on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET; MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), knocking fellow Toyota Camry driver Carl Edwards out of the top starting spot. It's not that Truex and his team made a special point of emphasis on that particularly tricky corner. It just worked out that way, earning Truex his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Pocono and the 10th of his career. "For whatever reason, today—all day long—I felt comfortable there, more so than past times here," said Truex, who ran his fastest lap of the day (179.244 mph) in the third and final round of knockout qualifying for the 21st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. "The first race here (in June) we really struggled in the Tunnel Turn. "We kind of focused on it a little bit coming back, as far as just making sure it was closer to Turn 1 and Turn 3 and not something that would really handcuff us so bad. So maybe that had something to do with it—I'm not sure—but it just kind of worked out that way, for whatever reason. "Each round I felt a little bit more comfortable and was able to gain a little more time there, and the third round I was able to just kind of sail off in there and get a little bit lucky and hit it right. It's one of those corners that, if you take a risk going in, nine out of 10 times it doesn’t pay off coming out of the corner. This time it did, and we were able to take advantage of it." On the strength of his run through the Tunnel Turn, Truex covered the distance in 50.211 seconds, .104 seconds faster than Edwards (178.873 mph), who thought he had the pole won when he completed his lap in the final round. "As I crossed the line, I felt like, 'That’s it'," said Edwards, who was a close second to Kyle Busch in pole qualifying last week at Indianapolis. "But after seeing what (Truex) ran, I thought 'Well, maybe I could go back and change this or that,' but that was a really good lap for me. It just was. "You can always go back and pick your lap apart, but the last two weeks, Indy and here, I was pretty proud of my lap, and they just got us." Paul Menard (178.671 mph) qualified third, the fastest of three Richard Childress Racing drivers in the top 12, with Ryan Newman placing fifth and Austin Dillon placing 12th. That's the first time all three RCR Chevrolets have cracked the top 12 for the same race since August of 2014 at Michigan. Denny Hamlin claimed the fourth spot on the grid. Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano will start from positions six through 10, respectively. Subbing for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr., six-time Pocono winner Jeff Gordon advanced to the second round but went no farther, qualifying 24th. Gordon made two runs in the first round to ensure he would make the second, and that eventually cost him. "The first time out, the car was pretty close, a little bit tight, but we should have been better that first time out, and then we wouldn't of had to gone out the second time," Gordon said. "But overall just too tight over the Tunnel (Turn). "The car is really good down in (Turn) 1. I picked up speed every time we went out. I think having to do that last run our third time on tires didn’t really give us a good chance to advance and get the lap that we wanted. It's still a work in progress." NASCAR competition officials delayed the start of qualifying by 20 minutes to allow teams extra time to make their way through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS). Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said that a glitch early Friday forced the wait time in the inspection process. "I'm not exactly sure of the exact technical thing that happened (with the LIS), but it got back online really quick," Miller said. "One thing I want to make clear is, the reason we're moving this back is because we had a little bit of ownership in it with our equipment. On a regular weekend, if everything … if we had our time block and our equipment worked fine and this was a team issue getting through templates and they didn't get out there, we would be inclined not to extend qualifying and if they miss qualifying it's on them." Despite the delay, all teams made it through inspection in time for the first 20-minute round of qualifying. The last of those was the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota team for driver Kyle Busch, who cut it close but made his first qualifying pass with roughly five minutes left in the opening session. No. 18 crew chief Adam Stevens told NBCSN that the car was initially out of tolerance with the rear-axle toe. Busch will start 16th after missing out on the 12-driver cut after qualifying's Round 2. His brother Kurt, who won the Sprint Cup tour's most recent race at Pocono, was 15th-fastest and will start alongside him in the eighth row. Contributing: Staff reports &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Michigan's August race will use provisional 2017 aero rules package
NASCAR competition officials announced Thursday morning that the Sprint Cup Series' Aug. 28 race at Michigan International Speedway will feature an additional, final test of the provisional 2017 aerodynamics rules package. The reduced downforce rules setup will be the same that was used in the series' June 12 stop at the 2-mile oval. NASCAR's top division also used forms of the package during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and the series' stop at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month. RELATED: How repave, aero package worked at Kentucky in July The most prominent visible changes from the current rules package are a smaller rear spoiler -- reduced 1 inch to a 2.5-inch height -- and the removal of rear-axle offset or "skew." Those adjustments -- combined with modifications to cooling fans, the front splitter and the rear-deck fin -- continue the trend in NASCAR's premier series of limiting the effects of downforce and sideforce on the cars. The effects have favored driver control over an overly stabilized car in an effort to promote passing and side-by-side racing. Before Thursday's announcement, the series' July 9 Quaker State 400 at newly repaved Kentucky was to be the final audition for the 2017 base package. Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said after that race that he wouldn't rule out an additional tryout, but indicated that the sanctioning body would likely avoid tinkering with aero rules for the final 10 races that make up the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "After tonight we'll go back and we'll sort of reconvene with the drivers and the owners and the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and decide where we're going," Miller said July 9. "We're open to a lot of different options, and if something like that bubbles up and we have industry support for it, nothing right now is out of the question." Miller added that the Kentucky race was originally intended to be the proposed package's final event to provide teams "the most runway" toward preparations for next season. But when asked, drivers said they supported one final demonstration, singling out Michigan as a possible venue. RELATED: New rules on display at Michigan 'a promising direction' "I think, obviously subject to change after this weekend is over, but my initial thought is I would like to see it back at Michigan with just a few subtle changes that can be ascertained from what we've learned over this weekend and the previous Michigan weekend," Brad Keselowski said July 7. "Maybe a small tweak from what we've learned and go again at Michigan in the second race would kind of be my initial thought, so I would say yes." Said Matt Kenseth, the defending race winner of Michigan's August 400-miler: "I think Michigan is a pretty good judge. I mean, there's only the one race on it, but that place is starting to wear in a little bit. They've been able to bring a little bit softer tire. The groove has been widening out because it's been a few years since the repave, so I think that's our fastest top-speed track we go to. I think that's a pretty good place to evaluate it." Next month's Pure Michigan 400 will mark the first time in three races that the 2-mile track has hosted consecutive Sprint Cup events with the same rules package. Last August, competition officials experimented with a high-drag aero configuration before trying out the potential 2017 package in June. The set-up was also used by four teams during a Goodyear tire test at Michigan on May 17. Michigan was last repaved ahead of the 2012 season.
Scott Miller comments on Kentucky repave, lower downforce package
NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller, comments on the effectiveness of the lower downforce rules package used at Kentucky Speedway and how the track raced after the repave.
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.