DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 3, 2009) -- Add Danica Patrick to the long list of motorsports stars that have signed up to compete in the 47th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 24-25.
On the first day of the three-day Rolex 24 test on Saturday, the IndyCar star was introduced as part of the four-driver lineup with Childress-Howard Motorsports.
Joining Patrick in the No. 2 Pontiac Crawford is NASCAR star and former Rolex 24 champion Casey Mears, three-time Rolex 24 winner Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay.
It will be Patrick’s second start in the Rolex 24. She competed in the 2006 Rolex 24 with Howard-Boss Motorsports driving a Porsche Crawford with Jan Lammers, Allan McNish and Rusty Wallace.
“I had such a good time,” said Patrick of her 2006 Rolex 24 start. “So many drivers come together for this event. Of course everyone wants to win and do well. But there’s such camaraderie at this event different from at least my IndyCar season. I just had a really great time and the cars are wonderful to drive and just the difference of doing a 24-hour race.
“Unfortunately, I think we were running maybe third when we fell out of our race. We were doing pretty well but we only made it nine hours. I was getting in for my second stint, my first double stint. It was just something so fresh and new for me. I remember stretching in my bus before I went out to drive for the second round. It was getting late like 11 or 12 o’clock.
“It was just really cool and I’m just really grateful to come back to this team again and run. I had such a good experience, not only with the car and the fun, but with the people. To be with a group of drivers like this, we have a great chance at winning this race.”
Patrick, who races with Andretti-Green Racing in the IndyCar Series, will spend this weekend’s test getting familiar with the Daytona Prototype again. But she feels that she has plenty of memories from her lone 2006 start.
“There wasn’t a ton of running so it was hard to get a real feel of how the rhythm of the race goes and how it goes through the night and into the next day,” Patrick said of her 2006 Rolex 24 experience, which cut short due to mechanical failures. “I’ll definitely be asking questions as we go along about that. I remember what it feels in the car and how it was around here and I think that will be able to carry over but also the car has improved too.”
There will be plenty of Rolex watches on the wrists of her fellow drivers in the Childress-Howard Motorsports team. Wallace owns three Rolex 24 overall wins in 1990, 1997 and 1999 while Mears won the 2006 Rolex 24 with Chip Ganassi Racing and co-drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
The test session continues on Sunday and Monday with more than 50 sports cars in attendance.
Among the drivers expected to drive at the test include three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, Mears, five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood, Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and Memo Rojas, SunTrust Racing and Altamonte Springs’ Wayne Taylor, 2007 Daytona Prototype co-champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty and motorcycle stars Jason Pridmore and five-time Daytona 200 By Honda winner Scott Russell.
Sunday’s schedule runs from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. with the Monday session running from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. All the test sessions are open to the public with access to the infield, Sprint FANZONE and garage. Tickets, which are $10, are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or at the gate.
Rolex 24 At Daytona tickets are on sale now. If purchased by Jan. 9, race fans can save $15 per ticket. Special pricing is available for admission tickets including access to both infield and general admission grandstands. Regular price is $55 – advance price when purchased before Jan. 9 is now only $40. To order, call 1-800-PITSHOP or go online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com