Jan 18 | Montoya on the drive toward the Daytona 500

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Montoya, along with PGA pro Nicholas Thompson, participated in a drive, pitch and putt contest with South Florida media at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa.

Juan Pablo Montoya

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Before Juan Pablo Montoya goes driving on the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway, the driver of the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet did a different type of driving on Monday.

Montoya, along with PGA pro Nicholas Thompson, participated in a drive, pitch and putt contest with South Florida media at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa promoting the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Golf is one of Montoya’s favorite hobbies away from the race track and it showed when he sank a nice 20-foot putt on Monday morning during the putting contest.

“I do play a lot of golf,” said Montoya, who resides in the Miami area but is a native of Colombia. “I can hit it pretty far and I can actually hit it pretty straight as well. I don’t spend enough time on it for it to be as good as it needs to be.”

Next month, Montoya will look to add the Daytona 500 to the list of prestigious races that he has won, which includes the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.

“It would be pretty cool,” Montoya said about the potential of winning the Daytona 500. “I’ve won all the big races except that one. I’m pretty good on restrictor plates and our cars are pretty good. Jamie (McMurray) won last year, and at Talladega, I’ve had so many chances at winning those races. It’s matter of giving yourself a chance. That’s all I ask for.”

Tickets for Speedweeks 2011 and the 53rd annual Daytona 500 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/DISUpdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway)

Jan 18 | Teams ready to roll for NASCAR Preseason Thunder

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This week’s three-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International Speedway brings the first official engine firings of 2011.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — This week’s three-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International Speedway brings the first official engine firings of 2011.

Don’t think for a second that it represents the new year’s first official work.

“I don’t ever remember being this busy in my life,” said Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet). “We are so full-speed ahead already.”

Wide-open shops mean wide-open anticipation. Teams participating in the 2011 edition of NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona will use the time to prepare for both the 53rd Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20 and the track’s new asphalt surface.

The test – scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 22 – runs from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET daily, weather permitting, with a noon-1 p.m. lunch break each day.

“It’s a very demanding time of the year,” Gustafson said, “but it’s very gratifying because you see projects get started and you see them come to fruition.”

A successful Goodyear tire test on Dec. 15-16 set the stage for next week’s session.

Last year’s repave – only the second at 2.5-mile Daytona and the first since 1978 – began after the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on July 3 and ended in early December. During the tire test (open to all series teams), those attending validated Goodyear’s compound selection for the Daytona 500, the series’ traditional season-opener, plus drivers and crew chiefs provided the sport’s first on-track feedback about the new pavement to track and NASCAR officials.

“The upcoming test at Daytona should go a long way in helping the teams get their setups right for next month’s Speedweeks,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “We received a lot of positive feedback from the competitors about the new racing surface at Daytona following the Goodyear tire test last month. We believe the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 has all the makings of being the most exciting one we’ve ever seen.”

Expect some re-affirmation next week, but NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona means three days to shake down new equipment, personnel and strategies. And long, detailed checklists.

“It’s a huge race for everyone,” Gustafson said of the Daytona 500. “A race that everybody wants to win; the biggest race of the year. Everybody had some reservations, so going down there with the tire test and coming back, it just confirms that Daytona is Daytona – it’s the track we all love. That’s wonderful to know. So going back there now, it’s trying to exploit what little nuances of speed we can.”

Fans can join the fun by attending the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona – the companion event to on-track activity. Along with watching NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing, fans can enjoy three Fan Fest sessions in Daytona’s Sprint FANZONE – from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20 and from 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21.

Among the offerings: Driver question-and-answer and autograph sessions. Fans also can watch each day’s testing at no cost, beginning at 9 a.m. Visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com for more information on NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona.

Jan 14 | Budweiser Party Porch to provide great views of the chicane during the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona

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During the first day of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday, Jan. 29, sports car fans will have a great place to view all of the action in the chicane from atop the 46-foot high Budweiser Party Porch.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The chicane, located near the end of the Superstretch, traditionally produces many of the most dramatic moments of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, America’s most prestigious sports car race and the kick-off event to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

During the first day of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday, Jan. 29, sports car fans will have a great place to view  all of the action in the chicane from atop the 46-foot high Budweiser Party Porch.

Located  across from the chicane on the Superstretch, the 20,000-square foot Budweiser Party Porch platform will be open to fans for the first time during the sports car race and provide a prime viewing spot of the drivers navigating their way through one of the tricky portions of the 3.56-mile road course.

“The Budweiser Party Porch is going to be a great spot to enjoy all the drama of the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” track President Joie Chitwood III said. “Entering and exiting the chicane has always been one of the more challenging areas on the track and the Budweiser Party Porch will now provide a great vantage point for fans.”

The Budweiser Party Porch, which will be open on Saturday, Jan. 29 between noon and midnight, will be available to ticket holders with garage pass upgrades.

Garage access will be available for purchase at the Sprint FANZONE ticket booth and trams will provide transportation from the Sprint FANZONE to the Budweiser Party Porch.

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Jan 09 | Ryan Dalziel fastest as Rolex 24 test wraps up

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Baron's Starworks Motorsport No. 8 entry unoffically snaps track record during the final day of the 'Roar.'

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Dalziel won the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Action Express Racing, and finished second with Peter Baron's operation in the 2007 event. Sunday, Dalziel served notice that Baron's Starworks Motorsport is a team to watch in the 49th running of the Rolex 24 later this month, unofficially breaking the Daytona International Speedway track record with a lap of 128.194 mph (1:39.973)  in the No. 8 Corsa Car Care Ford/Riley.

Dalziel's fast lap came during the final hour of the final day in the "Roar Before the Rolex 24," a three-day test session for the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season opener on Jan. 29-30.

"We are contenders, and we've proven that this weekend," said Dalziel. "We do the best we can with what we've got. I think we could have gone faster. I didn't put together a perfect lap, and we didn't have a qualifying setup on the car. We know we've got more."

Dalziel will co-drive with Mike Forest, Colin Braun, Tomas Enge and Jim Lowe in the Rolex 24.

"Having the fastest time in the test pretty exciting," said car owner Baron. "We've put in a lot of hard work since last fall, and Ryan's a phenomenal driver, and you can say enough about Bill Riley's engineering. Our car came off the trailer awesome, and got even better."

Defending Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champion Scott Pruett also bettered the track mark in the Sunday morning session in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley co-driven by Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, running a lap of 127.740 mph (1:40.329). David Donohue set the track record in 2009 with a lap of 1:40.540 in a Porsche/Riley.

"Running a fast time was not necessarily our intention," said Pruett, who won nine of 12 races last year en route to capturing his third DP title. "We are focused on going racing and getting to the checkered flag first."

The final day also produced the fastest speeds in the GT class. Leh Keen led the way with a lap of 116.649 mph (1:49.329) in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

"We tried a simulated qualifying run and I nailed a lap," said Keen, the 2009 GT champion. "Brumos really has its act together - they squeeze every bit of speed out of these Porsches."

Keen and regular co-driver Andrew Davis will be joined at the Rolex 24 by Hurley Haywood - the lone five-time winner of the event - and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb.

Practice and qualifying for the Rolex 24 begins Thursday, Jan. 27. The race takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Jan. 29.

Jan 08 | Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson hungry for a Rolex 24 crown

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Jimmie Johnson owns five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships and the Harley J. Earl trophy as the 2006 Daytona 500 champion. One title though is still missing from his resume -- Rolex 24 At Daytona champion.

Jimmie Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson owns five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships and the Harley J. Earl trophy as the 2006 Daytona 500 champion.


One title though is still missing from his resume -- Rolex 24 At Daytona champion.


Johnson, who took part in the second day of testing during the Roar Before the Rolex 24, is hoping to join Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


For the fourth straight year, he will co-drive the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings entry with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the Rolex 24 on Jan. 29-30, the season-opening event to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.


“I’m excited for the race,” Johnson said. “I certainly hope to make three guys that won the 500 that have gone on to win the Rolex 24. We have been awfully close. This year, the team has worked awfully hard again to get us in position and hopefully we learn some more this afternoon and tomorrow and come back buttoned up and ready to go.”


Johnson has experienced his near misses at the Rolex 24 crown. He finished second in 2005 and 2008.

Johnson says he enjoys competing in the prestigious twice-around-the-clock challenge and believes that racing in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series has made him a better driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I do feel driving this (Daytona Prototype) does help me grow as a driver,” Johnson said. “I think running with Bob (Stallings) and these guys the last few years has made me a better road course racer and I was finally able to get my first road course win out in Sonoma.

“Growing up, I raced all types of vehicles, and in my Cup career, this is the first time that I have been in one vehicle for so long. I like to mix it up and I like to feel different things. The adjustments that are made on these cars are different than a Cup car and I think it opens my mind up to another way of looking at things and maybe where our (NASCAR) cars could end up someday.”

The sports car test session has also given Johnson his first look at the new racing surface of the Daytona International Speedway.

He’ll begin his pursuit of a sixth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title with the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20.

“I think this Daytona 500 will be the best one that we’ve had that I’ve been a part of as driver,” Johnson said. “What is fun about the Daytona 500 (is that) we all look at it as a single event.  With it being our biggest race of the year, a fresh surface, the fact the we can run three wide and I’m sure we will try four wide around here and as smooth as it is, it’s going to be one exciting race. I think everybody is going to get their money’s worth. It’s going to be an awesome show.”

Dempsey geared up for fourth Rolex 24: Actor/racer Patrick Dempsey unveiled a bright yellow Visit Florida on his No. 40 Mazda RX-8 and a special Dempsey Racing ticket package on Saturday. Dempsey is looking to make his fourth Rolex 24 start, co-driving with Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Tom Long.

In last year’s Rolex 24, he finished 13th overall and sixth in the competitive GT class.

“To come back to Daytona is always phenomenal,” Dempsey said. “It’s the greatest race for us. Hopefully we will have a good run this year. You never know what’s going to happen. I love being a part of this series. I love racing with these guys.

“We’ve got really good energy this year. We’re a little more relaxed but yet very focused and very professional.”

Daytona International Speedway and Dempsey Racing have partnered on a unique ticket package that will let fans experience the excitement of Rolex 24 At Daytona while benefiting two important causes.

Available for $59 per ticket, the Dempsey Racing package includes:
-- Two-day infield/grandstand admission (Saturday, Jan. 29 and Sunday, Jan. 30)
-- Group meet and greet with Dempsey Racing drivers on Saturday morning prior to the start of the Rolex 24
-- Dempsey Racing hero card
-- Rolex 24 event hat

A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold will benefit both the Team Seattle Guild and the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing.

To purchase tickets for the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29-30, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

 

Jan 08 | DIS, Dempsey Racing Team Up On Special Rolex 24 Ticket Package

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Daytona International Speedway and Dempsey Racing have partnered on a unique ticket package that will let fans experience the excitement of America’s most prestigious race – the Rolex 24 At Daytona– while benefiting two important causes.

Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway and Dempsey Racing have partnered on a unique ticket package that will let fans experience the excitement of America’s most prestigious race – the Rolex 24 At Daytona– while benefiting two important causes.

Available for $59 per ticket, the Dempsey Racing package for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29-30 includes:
-- Two-day infield/grandstand admission (Saturday, Jan. 29 and Sunday, Jan. 30)
-- Group meet and greet with Dempsey Racing drivers on Saturday morning prior to the start of the Rolex 24
-- Dempsey Racing hero card
-- Rolex 24 event hat

A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold will benefit both the Team Seattle Guild and the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing.

Dempsey Racing will field a two-car effort in the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season-opening event for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

Patrick Dempsey, the star of the ABC hit show Grey’s Anatomy, will compete in the GT class with teammates Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Tom Long behind the wheel of the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8 GT while Dane Cameron, James Gue, Ian James, Don Kitch Jr. and Dave Lacey will drive the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving & Salvage Mazda RX-8.

Both teams will race in support for Team Seattle Guild and the Dempsey Center throughout the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season.

Space is limited for the Dempsey Racing package. To purchase tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

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