Daytona Beach, FL – January 26, 2007 – Six Lexus-powered Daytona Prototypes are set to
take the green flag on Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the Daytona
Scott Dixon will lead the way among the Lexus contingent in the ninth starting position in his Target/Telmex Lexus-Riley. He’ll be followed by A.J. Allmendinger (11th – Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley), Scott Pruett (13th – Telmex/Target Lexus-Riley), Mark Wilkins (18th – Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley) and Oswaldo Negri (22nd – Fresh From Florida Lexus-Riley) in tomorrow’s starting grid.
Ironically, it was Negri and the #60 Fresh From Florida Lexus-Riley that was the fastest car on the track leading up to the race. Unfortunately, a multi-car incident on the opening lap of qualifying took away any chance for the pole position. Negri’s fastest practice time was nearly two-tenths of a second faster than the pole-winning time and the fastest seen this week.
The twice-around-the-clock extravaganza will receive 15 hours of television coverage combined between FOX Sports and SPEED. The race will be shown in four parts beginning on FOX Saturday from 1-2:30 p.m. SPEED takes over at 2:30 p.m. and will feature 13.5 hours of coverage in total over three segments. The first will run from 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. The network will rejoin from 8 – 10 p.m. on Saturday night and then bring the race home on Sunday morning, beginning at 6:00 a.m. and running through the checkered flag and post-race interviews.
PRUETT SEEKS RECORD: Scott Pruett can become the winningest driver in Rolex 24 history with a win this weekend. He currently is tied for the all-time lead in class wins with six.
BACK-TO-BACK: Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon can become the first back-to-back winners in 20 years with a victory this weekend in their Lexus-Riley. It would mark the first repeat winners since Al Holbert, Derek Bell and Al Unser Jr. won in 1986 and 1987.
ROLEX WINNERS: Four Lexus-powered drivers have previously won the Rolex 24 overall title – Elliott Forbes-Robinson (1997 and 1999); Scott Pruett (1994), Scott Dixon (2006) and Dan Wheldon (2006)
500 WINNERS: The current Lexus stable includes the winners of five of the last seven Indianapolis 500s – Juan Montoya (2000), Helio Castroneves (2001/2002), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006).
OPEN-WHEELING – No less than eight Lexus-powered drivers in tomorrow’s field have won an IRL or Champ Car race. Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon have won in the IRL, Scott Pruett, A.J. Allmendinger, Juan Montoya and Paul Tracy all won in CART, and Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves have won in each series.
AGE IS ALL IN THE MIND – The Southard Racing team will feature two drivers who are separated by 45 years in age. Rising young open-wheel star Graham Rahal just turned 18 earlier this month, while Hall of Fame racer Elliott Forbes-Robinson is 63.
Mark Wilkins, driver #61 Exchange Traded Gold Lexus-Riley: "We have a very good race car for a 24-hour. We did what we wanted to accomplish, which was to qualify in the top 20, which means the guys have lots of time to get the other engine in the car tomorrow. That was our main focus. It’s fantastic to come out and run with these guys – these are huge names, so to go out and get in the top 20 our first year, I’m really happy. I think the Riley-Lexus is the best package. Lexus gave us a great motor; we’ve got lots of power. I think it’s going to be the engine to have in the 24-hour. The Lexus guys are great – they’ve given us tons of support and they’re working on ways to make us go faster."
Scott Pruett, driver #01 Telmex/Target Lexus-Riley: (Is the old adage true about the racing not beginning until the sun comes up?) I think the racing begins at the green flag. It’s going to be hard racing. Maybe I’ll be wrong in looking at it. But having driven these cars as long as I have, and having raced in this race as many times as I have – from coming here in times when you just sit back and cruise and other times pushing it 100 percent simply because that’s what the team wanted you to do – I see a hard, difficult race.
Michael Shank, Michael Shank Racing team owner: “We think we lost this race in the garage last year, not on the track, so we’ve done everything we can to be prepared for every eventuality. We are really excited to have the driver line-up that we do, Lexus power, and the team of guys we have in place to support this enormous effort. If we don’t win this race, we are definitely going down fighting.”
Steve Southard, Southard Racing team owner: “The crew worked incredibly hard to get the new car ready after the incident in testing. We have a lot of experience as a team, and I think it paid off in our being able to completely rebuild a car and make this race in just two weeks. The race is an endurance classic and we should be right there. We have a fantastic group of drivers ready to go, and a great team. It will be fun to get out there and show what we have.”
Credit: Lexus Motorsports
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