You can add two Indianapolis 500 champions to the star-studded list of racers competing in the 45th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28 at Daytona International Speedway.
Michael Shank Racing announced that Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., who have three Indianapolis 500 victories between them, will team with Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson in the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus-powered Riley in the 2007 Rolex 24.
Following the team's announcement, Castroneves turned laps in the No. 60 Lexus Riley during the final day of the two-day Rolex 24 test session and is excited about his participation in the twice-around-the-clock challenge.
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Castroneves, a native of Brazil, and Hornish join an All-Star list of names that will compete in the Rolex 24, the season-opening event to the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve.
Four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon has already committed to competing while other major names being tossed around include Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Competing against the best in motorsports is something Castroneves is anxious to do.
"The Daytona 24 Hours is known all over the world," Castroneves said. "It's great to have the best drivers together and race together. As a true racer, this is an important one. We talk about Indianapolis and they put the best drivers together but it's only for 3 or 3 ½ hours. Here, it's 24 hours. So many things can happen. It's so long and that's why you put so many good drivers in one event. I always wished to race here."
Hurley Ready For No. 34: Five-time Rolex 24 champion Hurley Haywood is preparing for 34th start in the Rolex 24. While he says the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series season will probably be his final full-time year of racing, he plans on competing in a couple more Rolex 24s before hanging up the driver's suit.
"I think next year will be my last year of full-time racing," said Haywood, who wheels the No. 59 Porsche Riley for Brumos Racing. "I think I'll probably do the 24-hour race a couple more times. I'm just hoping we can put together a good team. Brumos has been doing this for a long time and we've got a good chassis. With a little bit of luck and you definitely need luck in these long distance races, we might be able to win it."
Bobby Labonte In Attendance At Test: Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, shook down the No. 19 Ford Crawford as he looks for a ride in the Rolex 24.
"One thing led to another, and the team invited me to come down here and test," Labonte said. "I appreciate them letting me come down here and do this. These guys have won races - and are going to win more races - and I'm real excited to have an opportunity to sit in their race car. There are a lot of guys standing around looking for something to drive in, and a lot of them would pick this car if they had the opportunity."
Labonte has made two Rolex 24 starts and has participated in several Rolex Sports Car Series events at other tracks. He enjoys the Daytona Prototype and the close competition that it brings.
"I'm attracted to the Rolex 24 because of the excitement level that's there, the competition that's there," Labonte said. "There's not a runaway team. The competition is equal. I've always liked road racing - I've never done a lot of it."
Legge Takes First DIS Laps: Champ Car rookie standout Katherine Legge participated in the two-day test driving the No. 84 Robinson Racing Pontiac Riley. The laps were Legge's first at DIS.
"It was a lot of fun," Legge said. "I'm taking it easy at this stage. I don't want to do anything stupid. I'm getting used to the car and which way the track goes. I like the track. The car's a lot of fun to drive. It's very different to what I'm used to. The team is doing a great job, and obviously Paul (Dallenbach) being very helpful with all of his
"It's interesting to have watched Daytona on TV and now to actually drive it. It's one of the ones you want to take off the list of ones you want to do in your career, but you want to treat everything as professionally as you can as a driver. You just get on and do your best."
Tickets for the 45th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
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