DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2016) – A former championship team established itself Friday as one of early favorites in the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The No. 60 HONDA HPD Ligier JS P2 entry of Michael Shank Racing With Curb/Agajanian led both practice sessions on the opening day of the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” preseason test at Daytona International Speedway. The Roar is the first action of the year for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, enabling preparation for the season-opening Rolex 24 on Jan. 30-31.
In 2012, Shank fielded a Rolex 24-winning foursome; this year he has Ozz Negri Jr., Olivier Pla, John Pew and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular AJ Allmendinger in the No. 60. On Friday, Negri and Pla had the Prototype entry atop the two practices’ speed charts. In the morning session, Negri tuned a fast lap of 1 minute, 39.655 seconds (128.604 mph) on the 3.56-mile road course. Pla, who joined the Shank lineup officially on Thursday, led the afternoon session – and the first day overall – at 1:39.445 (128.875).
There also were two practice sessions for the BMW Performance 200, the Jan. 29 season-opener for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The fastest laps of both sessions were posted by the No. 15 Ford Shelby co-driven by Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson of Multimatic Motorsports.
In addition to the on-track action, many drivers and teams were treated to their first look at the nearly completed $400 million DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project that has transformed the facility into the world’s first true motorsports stadium.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said NASCAR star Jamie McMurray who last year joined Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to win both the Rolex 24 and the DAYTONA 500.
“The first thing I noticed … when you immediately look over [from the infield] you realize how big the grandstands are on the frontstretch and how long that is from Turn 4 all the way to Turn 1. The view on the outside of the track I think is the biggest change … it looks more like a stadium. So it’s really, really cool.”
Tickets for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can follow sports car racing at www.imsa.com and go on Twitter (@IMSA). Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million front stretch redevelopment project at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.