The second Rolex 24 on-track day at Daytona International Speedway for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask 16 had sparser participation, mostly by design. A veteran race engineer said that unless there’s a problem which needs on-track attention, many teams opt to use the first Friday practice time to finish changing into race mode with new engines, transaxles, gears, etc. Most aren’t in need of the second qualifying session and even if they did, some just plan on starting at the back of their respective field. The session most opt for is the last practice before the race.
Friday 27 cars turned out for the first Rolex 24 practice. Eight GT cars qualified in the second session, while the three not-yet qualified Daytona Prototypes did not go out at all.
LUCAS LUHR/No.95 Crown Royal/NPN Racing BMW Riley DP hit the wall and had to be towed in, necessitating the qualifying session to be used for repairs. Team Owner and starting driver, SCOTT TUCKER, said whether he started thirteenth or fourteenth was not really relevant, given the circumstances, and would have no effect at all on his race.
No.2 Beyer Racing Chevrolet Crawford DP suffered from a fried clutch by one its newer drivers, which had to be repaired during qualifying, with the team opting to also do its engine change as well. Beyer’s car did run the final practice, but lost five laps in the pits due to faulty spark plug wire.
No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley DP deliberately chose not to qualify, wanting to start last.
Thirty-eight cars ran the final practice, and most of the other seven wanted to save their new race trim and car.
For those three Grand-Am DP’s who did not qualify, it is up to Grand-Am to determine their qualifying order. On the preliminary Rolex 24 Starting Lineup, the three are listed in numerical order.
The starting drivers in each of those cases are the drivers who would have qualified the car – DANE CAMERON for No.2; Tucker in No.95; and ALEX GURNEY for No.99.
GAINSCO owner, BOB STALLINGS, said his driver lineup is simple: Gurney, JIMMIE JOHNSON, JIMMY VASSER, and JON FOGARTY. Repeat as necessary. The crew estimate that the drivers stint/pit stop schedule will last about an hour, give or take – maybe 45 minutes or 75 minutes. It hasn’t been determined yet if there will be double stints for the drivers. But the order stays.
Tucker runs two cars for the Rolex 24 – No.55 and No.95. All the drivers met the media Friday morning. RICHARD WESTBROOK of England, who is in the No.95 car said this was his first time in a DP, after having driven GT’s. “I don’t have to spend as much time looking in mirrors.”
Tucker thinks the race will be faster with fewer DP’s. Luhr said it is not normally a big deal handling all the GT cars. “If you get hit in the rear, you deal with it. We had our come together already so it won’t happen in the race.”
Two of the Tucker’s eight-driver lineup are previous Rolex 24 winners – EMMANUEL COLLARD in 2005 and CHRISTOPHE BOUCHUT in 1995. Bouchut said it is impossible to contrast/compare the fields in 1995 and now. It’s always a pleasure to race a winning car. It’s important to win.”