Twenty-seven of the 45 entries for the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona took to the track Friday morning for a 45-minute practice at Daytona International Speedway. It was warm, sunny and bright. The schedule calls for twenty-minutes of Qualifying and then final practice at noon EST for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask 16. Then they’re done for the day.

HURLEY HAYWOOD/No.59 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype, five-time winner at the 24 Hours of Daytona, was fastest in the morning practice session.

No.23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 GT. Photo by Mark Weber
No.23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 GT. Photo by Mark Weber

MARTIN RAGGINGER/No.23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 was the fastest GT driver, in sixth place. This was his first foray back on track since his big crash Thursday morning which necessitated all day and night to repair. Obviously, it’s working well now.

The Grand-Am qualifying rules call for the Thursday qualifying to set the top twenty in each category, Daytona Prototype and GT. For the remaining grid positions, a second, twenty-minute qualifying session for all Rolex Series cars is run Friday. For the GT’s, the top twenty have to rest on their times, while the two who have yet to qualify, will vie for P21 and downward. Also, any other GT who qualified twenty-first or lower can try to better its position. In the DP class, only 12 cars qualified, so the remaining three will be running for the bottom three slots.

Of the cars not on course, many are being taken apart and put into race trim. Others may choose not to run the car any more to save it for the race and avoid problems. One car still thrashing to get ready for qualifying was No.95 Crown Royal/NPN Racing BMW Riley DP. It will be qualified by owner SCOTT TUCKER. The sister car, No.55 was qualified sixth by CHRISTOPHE BOUCHET. Tucker and Bouchet are listed as drivers on both cars, as they are going for the points. The sister car, No.55, was having its race engine installed during the Friday morning practice.

The Phoenix arose from the ashes overnight. The No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley DP was repaired by 3-4 am Friday morning, depending on with whom one spoke. The engine and trans axle were removed to cut out the broken frame. It was replaced and welded in place – hours of welding. Then the race motor was installed and removed more than once, to double check that everything was straight and square. Finally, the gear box was installed and lined up. Last night the car was on set up tires. For the Friday morning session, practice tires were used.

No.99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley DP Friday am. Photo by Mark Weber
No.99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley DP Friday am. Photo by Mark Weber

Throughout the process, driver JIMMIE JOHNSON was on site helping and watching. He did whatever was needed. His motor home was parked close by. Many of the NASCAR drivers have already moved their motor homes into the designated area, in preparation for NASCAR’s Speed Week.

Also present to the end Thursday night-Friday morning were BILL FINGERLOW, hired Thursday afternoon by BILL RILEY of Riley Technologies to oversee the restoration project, and GERRY JOLES, from GM Racing, whose speciality is engine calibration and mechanics.

As Johnson’s accident occurred in the first Thursday practice, JIMMY VASSER had not yet driven the car. Owner BOB STALLINGS said Friday morning the driver lineup for practice is first to put Johnson back in the car as he was the last driver, and then Vasser, followed by team regular driver JON FOGARTY. Hopefully ALEX GURNEY will also drive the car.

One car yet to be on course is Sigalsport No.08 Ferrari 430 Challenge GT. It has had all kinds of mechanical issues. The team was awaiting car parts from Italy, which arrived just two days ago, and then missing bits and pieces, bolts, etc. The parts are all metric so they aren’t easy to locate. The team tried to get on track for Night Practice and got all the way to the pit lane and something wasn’t right, so they returned to the garage. Friday morning the team was still working on the car. One driver was in the car, and another – ROGER YASUKAWA, was suited up with ear pieces and all. However, it was not to be. They still hope to qualify.

Pirelli is set for all kinds of weather this weekend. There are 10,000 tires on site, 3,000 being rain tires. A Pirelli spokesman said the two tire issues Thursday were due to debris for the No.10 Sun Trust Racing Ford Dallara, and for the GT car it was tire rub on the body.