DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2008) – Reigning “Dancing with the Stars” Champion and two-time Indy 500 Champ Helio Castroneves already has a “Mirror Ball” Trophy for winning the national dancing competition. Now he has his sights set on something else – a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph watch.
“Well, I already have a “Mirror Ball” trophy” said Castroneves, who could pick up a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Daytona Cosmograph as champion of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 26-27. “So now I’m focused on the Rolex. It was a great experience – Dancing With The Stars – but this is what I enjoy. I’m glad to be back here and I’m looking forward to racing again”
Castroneves is testing at “The World Center of Racing” preparing for the 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27 and is part of the No. 9 Toshiba Pontiac Riley Penske-Taylor race team along with open-wheel and sports-car veteran Ryan Briscoe and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch.
Castroneves, who drives the No. 3 Penske Racing Dallara/Honda in the IndyCar Series, made his Rolex 24 debut this past season in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing entry with former IndyCar teammate Sam Hornish Jr., Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr. where they finished ninth overall. The 32-year-old Brazilian won back-to-back Indianapolis 500s in 2001 and 2002.
“My goal is to focus on every lap – that’s the key to this race,” he said. “Right now I need to get comfortable and continue working hard.”
Danica in the house: Although she is not taking part in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, that didn’t stop Danica Patrick from visiting Daytona International Speedway over thee weekend. The Indy Series driver was in town taping segments for the Speed Performance Awards. Patrick, along with Tommy Kendall, will co-host the program scheduled to air Feb. 7.
Kurt Busch extends offer: In a Saturday afternoon press conference, Penske-Taylor driver (and NASCAR driver) Kurt Busch noted “it’s funny to listen to (teammates) Helio (Castroneves) and Ryan (Briscoe) say this car (the No. 9 Pontiac Riley) is heavy and doesn’t turn well. I’d really like to invite them to drive my heavy stock car and see how heavy that is!” Busch also said he has plenty of experience in 24-hour racing. “I have to borrow this line from (fellow NASCAR driver) Matt Kenseth – My experience would have to be the 24 hours of Pocono that we run twice a year. That race is so long it seems like it takes forever.”
Patrick “Zoom Zoom” Dempsey: Patrick Dempsey, star of the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy paid a special tongue-in-cheek thanks to the striking television and movie writers. “At least I’ve had plenty of time to drive a race car,” he said. And for those of you who don’t know, Dempsey is the “Zoom Zoom” voice you hear on the Mazda commercials.
Roar Before The Rolex 24: The final day of the three-day Rolex 24 test session on Sunday will be the Fan Fest event known as the Roar Before the Rolex 24. Admission is $10 and gates open at 9 a.m.