DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The clock doesn’t start on the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona until Saturday but there was plenty of drama on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
SunTrust Racing’s Max Angelelli posted a fast lap of 127.293 mph, 1 minute, 40.681 seconds to best Michael Shank Racing’s Oswaldo Negri to win the pole for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
“It was important for us (to win the pole),” said Angelelli. “I can’t deny this. It’s nice after everything we went through last year, losing the championship in the final race. It’s good for morale, it’s good for everybody.”
Meanwhile, the defending GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series champions had a setback.
During the morning practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the team’s No. 99 Chevrolet Riley was severely damaged as four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was passing a slower GT class car in the infield road course.
Johnson spun off course and the No. 99 GAINSCO car made heavy contact when it backed into a safety barrier.
Johnson’s teammates in the Rolex 24 At Daytona are defending Rolex Sports Car Series Champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney and open-wheel veteran Jimmy Vasser.
The team abandoned plans to bring a new car -- the No. 98 – from the team’s shop in Texas after engineers from Riley Technologies determined the car could be repaired on-site.
“I put myself in a position with a GT car that I shouldn't and paid the price,” said Johnson, who was uninjured in the incident. “I hate it that I tore up equipment and put the guys in this spot. It looks like we will get this fixed and hopefully everything will be good for tomorrow.”
“We’re not happy about it but it is what it is,” said owner Bob Stallings.
Scott Dixon to run the Daytona 5k: If 24 hours of racing isn’t enough, Scott Dixon decided to run in Saturday’s Daytona 5K & Fun Walk.
“I haven’t really run too many 5K’s – more 10K and triathlon-style events traditionally,” said Dixon. “I heard about the Daytona 5K last week and thought it would be a nice tune-up before starting the 24-hour race on Saturday. It should be fun to do.”
Opening Ceremonies: Hershey’s Milk & Milkshakes Speedweeks 2010 officially got underway as Ormond Beach resident Gordon Goodman waved the green flag to begin practice for the Rolex Series.
Goodman was named the Mayor of Hershey’s Milk & Milkshakes Speedweeks 2010 after his 100-word essay received the most votes from fans of Daytona International Speedway on Facebook.
Fresh From Florida 200: Sports car veteran Andy Pilgrim, in the No. 46 BMW M3 for Fall-Line Motorsports, captured the pole for Friday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race with a lap of 107.125 mph.
The Fresh From Florida 200 goes green at 1:45 p.m. on Friday.
Tickets for all Hershey’s Milk & Milkshakes Speedweeks events, including the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.