DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 wrapped up a two-day Rolex 24 At Daytona test session on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
The test featured 24 teams shaking down Pirelli tires as well as preparing for the daunting task of the twice-around-the-clock challenge – the 48th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31 at the “World Center of Racing.”
Among the teams in attendance included defending Rolex 24 champions Brumos Racing, SunTrust Racing, Michael Shank Racing, Spirit of Daytona, Krohn Racing, Doran Racing, TRG Motorsports, Dempsey Racing, Doran Racing, Racers Edge and Turner Motorsport.
Brumos Racing, which captured the 2009 Rolex 24 in the No. 58 Porsche Riley with drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice, will be defending their race victory in the famous No. 59 Porsche Riley with drivers Donohue, Law and sports car legend Hurley Haywood, who will be making a record 37th Rolex 24 start.
“The most important thing is to get use to the new 2010 tire from Pirelli,” said Haywood about the two-day test. “We are quite pleased with the performance of that tire. We’re not really testing a lot of things. We’re very happy with the setup we had here in January and that proved to be good for us. We’re just polishing the corners and making sure everything is working properly and getting everything out of the way so when we come back here in January we are ready to run. We will run through all the drivers in the lineup and then park the car and wait for the race.”
Haywood, who owns a record five Rolex 24 wins and also serves as a Vice President at Brumos, says preparing for the grueling test of the Rolex 24 has changed through the years because the competition has gotten so much tighter.
“With the intensity of this race, it’s no longer a race that you can figure out a game plan and run according to the game plan,” Haywood said. “You have to run absolutely 100 percent out of the gate or you are going to find yourself a lap down or two laps down. The wear and tear on the equipment is pretty strenuous. When you try to make everything mechanically perfect, it increases your chances of doing well.”
The 61-year-old Haywood says that this will be his final drive in the Rolex 24 and hopes to cap off his history in the Rolex 24 in grand style.
“We have a great team, we have a great driver lineup,” Haywood said. “This is going to be my last one here. I’m going to try really hard to make this my sixth time (winning the Rolex 24).”
Allmendinger: A.J. Allmendinger, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, participated in the second day of Rolex 24 testing behind the wheel of the No. 60 Ford Riley for Michael Shank Racing.
Allmendinger, who has four previous Rolex 24 starts all with Michael Shank Racing, has a best finish of second in 2006. He plans on competing with Michael Shank Racing in the 2010 Rolex 24.
“Mike (Shank) and I are married until we win this race,” Allmendinger said. “We’re sticking together until we win this thing. I love running with Michael Shank Racing. All the guys on this race team are hard workers.
“The test went well. It’s good for me because only doing this one time, you got to get use to it. The January test, there are so many cars here it’s hard to get into rhythm. I won’t be in a Cup car much before I come back here. Now that I have done test day, I’m in the rhythm of the Prototype.”
But even before the Rolex 24, Allmendinger plans on being back at Daytona competing in the Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket events on Dec. 28-30. Allmendinger will join fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray in the annual post-Christmas karting event at DIS.
“I love go-kart racing,” Allmendinger said. “Unfortunately I don’t get enough of it. I’ve never really had a chance to come down here and do the race. I’ll be living here in Daytona for like two months.”
With Rolex 24 testing wrapped up, next on the Speedway calendar is the three-day test session featuring the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards on Dec. 18-20. The test will be highlighted by Izod IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick, who will turn her first laps around Daytona in a stock car for JR Motorsports.
The three-day test session is open to the public with free access to the Oldfield Grandstands through the lobby of Daytona 500 Experience. In addition, trams will be available to transport race fans into the Sprint FANZONE to view all the testing action for $15.
Tickets for the 48th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP and fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).