DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Rolex 24 At Daytona Weekend began Thursday with qualifying in preparation for the 51st anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona set for 3:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge also qualified on Thursday for Friday’s BMW Performance 200 with 64 GS and ST class cars competing for starting position on the 3.56-mile road course.
Rolex 24 qualifying: The No. 01 and No. 02 DP cars -- both Chip Ganassi Racing/Felix Sabates Target TELMEX BMW Riley cars -- qualified first and second Thursday afternoon.
Scott Pruett, who will share the wheel with Memo Rojas, NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya and IndyCar star Charlie Kimball, earned his third career pole position for the Rolex 24 driving the No. 01 BMW Riley. He garnered the pole position with a lap of 127.455 mph.
Pruett is racing for his fifth Rolex 24 At Daytona trophy, which would tie him with the legendary Hurley Haywood for the most Rolex 24 victories.
“It’s always exciting (to qualify on the pole),” Pruett said. “I joked with some of the guys beforehand that I don’t know how many of these I have left, so I better get it done.”
Scott Dixon drove the No. 02 Ganassi entry to the outside pole with a lap 127.337 mph. Dixon will share driving duties with Dario Franchitti, 2010 Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray and Joey Hand.
In the GT class, Nick Tandy, driving in his third Rolex 24 At Daytona for Konrad Motorsport/Orbit Porsche GT3 Cup, was fastest with a lap speed of 119.047 mph.
Shane Lewis from Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman came in first among the GX class cars with a lap speed of 111.827 mph. The Rolex 24 will be the first race for the newly formed GX class.
BMW Performance 200: Jade Buford in the No. 55 Aston Martin Vantage took his first career Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport pole position during qualifying for Friday’s BMW Performance 200. Racing for Multimatic Motorsports, Buford had a lap speed of 109.997 mph. Buford came in just 0.319 seconds ahead of Jack Roush Jr., who won last year’s race with co-driver Billy Johnson. Joey Atterbury was third in the No. 51 Roush Mustang with a lap speed of 109.504 mph.
Next up: On tap Friday will be the Ferrari Challenge Recon and Race #1 at 11:45 a.m., followed by the BMW Performance 200 at 1:45 p.m. The pre-race/fan walk autograph session for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series drivers is scheduled for 12:40 p.m.
Saturday’s Rolex 24 is set for 3:30 p.m. The weekend off-the-track fan entertainment includes the Boardwalk Experience Carnival, Sprint FANZONE festivities, the Taste of the 24, and the Chili Cook-Off. For a complete list of the Rolex 24 Weekend At Daytona activities, please visit: http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Tickets-Events/Events/2013/Rolex-24-At-Daytona/Event-Info.aspx.
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona Weekend as well as Budweiser Speedweeks At Daytona are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.