The 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona offered plenty of racing action over the past weekend, with Juan Pablo Montoyo of the Chip Ganassi Racing Team taking the checkered flag in the 51st edition of this popular annual event. It was Montoya’s third overall win in Daytona, and a fifth for teammate and lead driver, Scott Pruett, putting him on a par with Hurley Haywood’s record for wins in the two-day endurance race. Together with Charlie Kimball and Memo Rojas, Montoya and Pruett proved to be a winning combination crossing the finish line close to 22 seconds ahead of defending champion AJ Allmendinger of Michael Shank Racing.
Run on a 3.56-mile course combining an infield road course with parts of the NASCAR tri-oval, the 24 Hours of Daytona started in 1962 as a three-hour sports car race called the Daytona Continental, with points counting towards the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. The event became the Daytona 2000 in 1964 and the 24 Hours of Daytona between 1966 and 1971 before changing to the 6 hours of Daytona in 1972 because of the fuel crisis of the time as a result of the OPEC oil embargo. The race never took place in 1974, but resumed as the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1975, with the name later changing to include the names of various sponsors, including Pepsi and SunBank. Rolex has been the sponsor since 2002
The off-season timing of the Rolex 24 affords many top drivers the opportunity to participate, and it is generally a star-studded event. With teams consisting of between three and five drivers, world-class participants from other types of racing often sign up for the race. NASCAR drivers have included Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon, while Indianapolis 500 winners to participate include Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Buddy Rice, Juan Pablo Montoyo, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish.
This is the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the start of Speedweeks 2010, as well as the beginning of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Previously known as the 24 Hours of Daytona, this event is a sports car endurance race held on a combination 3.56-mile course.
Date: 30 – 31 January 2010
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
City: Daytona Beach, FL
Country: United States of America
No doubt this weekend’s NASCAR Rolex 24 at Daytona was an emotional race for David Donohue who managed to follow in his late father’s footsteps (winner of the race almost forty years ago). The victory didn’t come easy and it was careful timing and skill that took Donohue to the front of the pack to cross the finish line just split-seconds ahead of other competitors.
Until now Chip Ganassi Racing seemed to have a strong competitive edge as the team has taken home the winner’s trophy for the past three races. In the end, however, it seems that some really sharp driving was all that was needed to end the winning streak. David Donohue started from pole position in a Brumos Porsche Riley when the race got underway on Saturday afternoon, with little hope of coming home with the winner’s trophy. He was facing the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya who replaced teammate Scott Pruett in the Ganassi Lexus Riley at some point during the race and it seemed that this much more experienced driver had the edge to keep the lead during the 53rd hour of the race. But Donohue was not to be outdone. Working with teammates Buddy Rice, Antonio Garcia and Darren Law, Donohue came out of the cockpits with 53 minutes to go in the No. 58 Porsche just behind Montoya. He struggled for a while, almost overtaking him or bumping Montoya a number of times over the course of several laps until finally he was able to take advantage of slower GT class traffic and slip ahead of Montoya’s Lexus, taking the lead on lap 711. Montoya wasn’t about to go down easy. He chased Donohue relentlessly for the remainder of the race, keeping him on his toes. But Donohue was clearly up for the challenge and Montoya ended up finishing just 0.167 seconds behind him. The victory was a new record, with the previous closest 1-2 finish being 30.879 seconds. Hurley Haywood finished third in a Porsche Riley.
Speaking about his victory, a teary Donohue said: “We’re just a small part of what this team could do. I’m just glad I could carry the flag.” What was especially interesting was that four of the new, sleek prototypes finished on the lead lap. This was the most ever, since no more than two cars had ever finished in this way before. To top it off, the four cars spent most of the final two hours of the race nose-to-tail, showing that the cars have incredible potential to dominate the season.
NASCAR hosts a number of exciting auto racing championships every year and this year will be no different. Not only will the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series be kicking off in less than three weeks time, but a number of great drivers, such as Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Casey Mears, are set to return to the racetracks for another great season.
So far it seems as though NASCAR enthusiasts cannot wait the last few weeks before the Daytona 500 officially kicks off the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. A large number of drivers and car owners will be heading down to the Daytona International Speedway this Saturday to take part in the Rolex 24. So far the line-up is looking pretty good. NASCAR stars have been participating in this pre-sprint cup race since 1962, making the most of the race and enjoying a fun-filled weekend that also gives them a great season warm-up. Casey Mears, who won the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype in 2006, and Juan Pablo Montoya who took the title in 2007 and 2008, will both be returning to Daytona for this year’s race. Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson will also be making an appearance, as will other greats such as Kyle Petty, AJ Allmendinger and Colin Braun. Roger Penske, Richard Childress and Kevin Buckler have also submitted entries for the event. More than fifty different Daytona Prototype and GT cars are expected to be entered for the event, making the Rolex 24 at Daytona action packed and exciting.
So far the race is set to start at 15:30 on Saturday, but practice runs and qualifying will get underway long before on Thursday. All eyes will be on Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas to see if they can again burn up the tarmac on the “Roar Before the 24” test to determine the fastest speed. Both Pruett and Rojas are defending Rolex 24 at Daytona winners and they have taken the Daytona Prototype trophy home before. Montoya has remarked that his car is â€˜pretty quick’ and said he is excited about the event. It won’t be long now before fans crowd the Daytona stadium ready to warm up for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with a little pre-championship racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.