Jan 07 | Pruett, Ganassi 'Roar' In Opening Day Of Testing

Picking up where he left off last year, Scott Pruett ran the fastest laps Friday at Daytona International Speedway to lead the opening day of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" in the car that dominated last year's Daytona Prototype championship.

No. 01
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Picking up where he left off last year, Scott Pruett ran the fastest laps Friday at Daytona International Speedway to lead the opening day of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" in the car that dominated last year's Daytona Prototype championship.

The three-day session is giving competitors in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 an opportunity to prepare for the 49th runnning of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, set for Jan. 29-30.

"The Rolex 24 is our Super Bowl," Pruett said. "A lot of energy goes into this event. It's monumental."

Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas -- they pilot the No. 01 TELMEX/Target  BMW/Riley, for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates -- won nine of 12 races en route to the 2010 DP title. Ganassi's organization won the Rolex 24 three times from 2006-08, and finished second the past two years. Joey Hand tested with the team for the first time on Friday, and will be joined by second-generation IndyCar star Graham Rahal on Saturday.

Spencer Pumpelly was fastest in GT testing with an afternoon lap of 1:50.170 (116.329 mph) in the No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup co-driven by Andy Lally, Steven Bertheau, Wolf Henzler and Brendan Gaughan. That lap was quickest than Bill Auberlen's time of 1:50.377 that led the morning session in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 co-driven by Boris Said, Paul Dalla Lana and Matt Plumb.

The test was the first official GRAND-AM event on the repaved speedway section of the 3.56-mile road circuit.

"The paving is phenomenal," said Ozz Negri, who shares the No. 60 Crown Royal XR Ford/Riley with John Pew, Marc Goossens and Michael Valiante. "It's  smooth as can be. It is a real joy going through the oval without the car going up and down. The transitions are very smooth, and I like the chicane better. I wouldn't do a single thing differently."

Saturday's testing begins at 9 a.m., and concludes with a 6:30-8 p.m. night session. Sunday activities run from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. All-access tickets are $15 both days - free to Rolex 24 ticket holders - with admission located at either of the speedway tunnels.

NOTES: A.J. Allmendinger, Michael McDowell and Justin Wilson were introduced as drivers of the No. 6 Curb Records Ford/Dallara, part of a three-car effort by Michael Shank Racing. ... John Edwards and Adam Christodoulou, who co-drove for SpeedSource in 2009, will join Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8, looking to give the team its third Rolex 24 GT victory in four years. ... NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Colin Braun was added to the Starworks Motorsport lineup on the team's No. 8 Corsa Car Care Ford/Riley, joining defending Rolex 24 winner Ryan Dalziel, Mike Forest and Tomas Enge. Dalziel was second-fastest in Friday afternoon testing. ... Scott Maxwell led both Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge sessions in the Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R. The Camaro of John Edwards and Matt Bell was second in the morning in the Stevenson Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro, while Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. were second in the afternoon in the Roush Performance Ford Mustang.

Jan 07 | 2011 Budweiser Shootout At Daytona Lineup Announced

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The field for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will feature former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, a host of former outstanding rookies and a collection of previous winners at the “World Center of Racing.”

Budweiser Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The field for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will feature former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, a host of former outstanding rookies and a collection of previous winners at the “World Center of Racing.” Adding to the drama of the 33rd annual season-opening event, this field of drivers will compete for the first time on Daytona’s new asphalt.

Criteria are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series within the last two seasons:
• The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
• Past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions
• Past Budweiser Shootout champions
• Past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola champions
• NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year drivers from 2001-2010

Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said, “Race fans expect to see NASCAR’s best drivers compete in the Budweiser Shootout to kick off the 2011 racing season, and this star-studded line-up will not disappoint when they take the green flag for the first time on the new asphalt.  The Budweiser Shootout has showcased some of the most thrilling racing over the years, and our fans are in for an exciting night on February 12th.”

“For more than 30 years, the NASCAR Sprint Cup season has kicked-off with the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, and we’re proud to continue that tradition,” said Mark Wright, vice president of media, sports & entertainment marketing, Anheuser-Busch.  “With the new qualification rules allowing for more of today’s biggest stars to compete under the lights at Daytona, fans can expect a great race at this year’s Budweiser Shootout.”

The race distance will continue to be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps.  Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count.  Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit and change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. 

Tickets for the Budweiser Shootout start at $39, with special advance pricing available for tickets purchased in January, and admission is free for children 12 and under.  Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Friday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4.  The Draw Party is free to the public.

The Budweiser Shootout – a “non-points” event for NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors – was first held in 1979, originally known as the Busch Clash. Kevin Harvick has won the last two events. The green flag is set for 8:10 p.m. on Feb. 12, with FOX and MRN broadcasting live.   

Tickets for the 33rd Budweiser Shootout and all 2011 Speedweeks events are now available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Drivers eligible for the 2011 Budweiser Shootout include:

2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers
Jimmie Johnson
Denny Hamlin
Kevin Harvick
Carl Edwards
Matt Kenseth
Greg Biffle
Tony Stewart
Kyle Busch
Jeff Gordon
Clint Bowyer
Kurt Busch
Jeff Burton

Others (criteria in parentheses)
John Andretti (Coke Zero 400)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
Kevin Conway (Series rookie of the year)
Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
Bill Elliott (Series champion, Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
Kasey Kahne (Series rookie of the year)
Bobby Labonte (Series champion)
Terry Labonte (Series champion, Budweiser Shootout)
Joey Logano (Series rookie of the year)
Sterling Marlin (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Mark Martin (Budweiser Shootout)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Series rookie of the year)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Series rookie of the year)
Ryan Newman (Daytona 500, Series rookie of the year)
Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)
Regan Smith (Series rookie of the year)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)

Jan 06 | DIS ready for Roar Before The Rolex 24

The first major event on the international motorsports calendar will take place this weekend when GRAND-AM Road Racing rings in the new year with the "Roar Before the Rolex 24," a three-day test featuring a star-studded lineup at Daytona International Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The first major event on the international motorsports calendar will take place this weekend when GRAND-AM Road Racing rings in the new year with the "Roar Before the Rolex 24," a three-day test featuring a star-studded lineup at Daytona International Speedway.

Many of the stars entered in the season-opening 49th running of Rolex 24 At Daytona - set for Jan. 29-30 - are expected to test this Friday through Sunday (Jan. 7-9).

The reigning Daytona Prototype champions of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, along with series regulars including Alex Gurney, Max Angelelli, Jan Magnussen and David Donohue - are expected to be joined by NASCAR standouts including Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, plus international stars including Dario Franchitti, Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Jorg Bergmeister and Scott Dixon.

Forty-seven cars are entered for Rolex Series testing, including multi-car DP lineups from defending race winner Action Express Racing, three-time winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Michael Shank Racing, Starworks Motorsports and Level 5 Motorsports. One-car efforts come from GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, SunTrust Racing, Doran Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing, Krohn Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports. GT teams with multi-car lineups include defending winners SpeedSource, TRG, Dempsey Racing, Team Sahlen and Magnus Racing.

The Rolex Series will be joined at the test by the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, which opens its season with the GRAND-AM 200 at Daytona on Jan. 28.

Friday's sessions run from 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. (ET). Saturday testing begins at 9 a.m., and concludes with a 6:30-8 p.m. night session. Sunday activities run from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. All-access tickets are $15 each day - free to Rolex 24 ticket holders - with admission located at either of the speedway tunnels.

NOTES: Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian will announce its Rolex 24 lineup in a Saturday press conference, followed by the introduction of Dempsey Racing's fourth driver and a special paint scheme for the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8. Team owner Patrick Dempsey is tentatively scheduled to attend. ... SpeedSource, seeking its third Rolex 24 GT victory in four years, will announce the remainder of its driving lineup on Friday for its No. 70 entry. ... Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is expected to test on Saturday for in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet/Riley. ... SPEED's live television coverage of the Rolex 24 runs from 3-10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29 (ET), and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30. ... The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will return with live radio coverage and updates. ... The Rolex 24 will take the green flag at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.

Jan 06 | DIS, Daytona Chamber create Speedweeks Decorating Contest

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The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Daytona International Speedway has created the inaugural Speedweeks 2011 Decorating Contest.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Gentlemen, start your decorations.

The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Daytona International Speedway has created the inaugural Speedweeks 2011 Decorating Contest.

Businesses that are members of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce can participate by decorating in a NASCAR/racing/Daytona Beach theme to welcome visitors to the Daytona Beach region for Speedweeks 2011, which begins with the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend on Jan. 27-30 and concludes with the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Businesses will be judged on the following criteria:
• Originality
• Theme- effective presentation of theme
• Creativity
Entries must be received on or before January 20, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. and businesses should be decorated and ready for judging by 9:00 a.m., January 24, 2011.

All participating businesses will receive recognition on the large screen video displays during Speedweeks 2011 and prized will be handed out for first, second and third place. The first place business will receive two suite tickets to the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, while second place will receive a pair of Sprint Tower seats and 5th Turn hospitality admissions for the Daytona 500 and third place receives two Daytona 500 grandstand tickets and 31 Degrees hospitality admissions.

Tickets for Speedweeks 2011 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

 

Jan 05 | Ryan Tolley Joins DIS As Director Of Sales

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Daytona International Speedway has hired Ryan Tolley as Director of Sales.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway has hired Ryan Tolley as Director of Sales effective February 7, 2011.  In addition, Andrew Booth has been promoted to Senior Manager of Media Relations and Joann Mantovani has been promoted to Senior Manager of Advertising and Promotions.

Tolley will oversee all hospitality and sponsorship sales for the “World Center of Racing.”  He comes to Daytona from Watkins Glen International, where he was most recently the director of sales and business development.  During his five year tenure at Watkins Glen, Tolley was responsible for building strong regional partnerships with McDonalds, Sikorsky Helicopters, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Sahlen’s Packaging, among others. He will report to DIS Vice President of Corporate Development John Guthrie.

“Ryan brings a strong background in sales and motorsports sponsorship to Daytona,” said Guthrie.  “His track record in the industry speaks for itself and we’re glad to have him join our team.”

Booth has been with the speedway since 2000. He oversees all media relations for Daytona’s motorsports events including NASCAR, GRAND-AM, AMA, and others.  Mantovani, who joined Daytona in 2008, oversees the facility’s advertising and promotions. In addition, she is responsible for Daytona’s social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others.

“Joann and Andrew continue to be vital members of our marketing team and are relentless promoters of our events,” said DIS Vice President of Marketing Sean Belgrade.  “Their efforts have helped increase media awareness of Daytona and have broadened our outreach to fans through traditional and social media channels.”

Jan 04 | Ganassi announces formidable two-car lineup for Rolex 24 At Daytona

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Owner Chip Ganassi Racing announces a star-studded driver lineup for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper.

Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray - and team owner Chip Ganassi.

GRAND-Am Road Racing got one of those cards.

Tuesday, GRAND-AM - and its fans - got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming (Jan. 29-30) Rolex 24 At Daytona, one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion.

Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/TELMEX BMW/Riley prototype by GRAND-AM veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

In the No. 02 TELMEX/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets - two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti.

Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s.

Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not.

Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season - and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series.
•         Pruett and Rojas dominated the GRAND-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time.
•         McMurray won the marquee event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Daytona 500, plus the Brickyard 400.
•         Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time.

"The Rolex 24 At Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours."

Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers.

McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and GRAND-AM sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time.

"They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his GRAND-AM guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there."

Testing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona - the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" - is Friday-Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Jan. 29.

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