Harvard, Massachusetts USA

Field of 80 Set for Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 2, 2001) - The field of 80 was set today for Saturday's start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, with qualifying once again being combined due to wet track conditions. Race officials believed they would be able to run today's qualifying under dry track conditions, using three separate qualifying sessions, however only minutes before the SportsRacing Prototype (SRP) and SportsRacing Prototype II (SRPII) classes took to the track for the first 15-minute session, a light rain began to fall on Daytona International Speedway, forcing officials to enforce wet track qualifying procedures.

As in Thursday's qualifying, all classes took to the track in a 45-minute combined qualifying session in order to fill the remaining 78 open positions for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The front row for the race was previously set during Thursday's qualifying. The light rain stopped during today's qualifying, allowing track conditions to improve.

Two cars were able to set new Grand-Am class track records during qualifying, with the #44 Team Amick Motorsports Corvette recording a lap time of 1:51.295 at a speed of 115.154 mph, shaving 2.781 seconds off Craig Conway's previous American GT track record. Joe Varde piloted the #44 for Team Amick Motorsports, which is known for their 'Hands On Racing' program benefiting the Grant-A-Wish Foundation.

"I always like to break records. Craig and them are great racers," Varde said. "That is who I came here to race against. We had to use our race engine today, so I only hope we didn't push it too hard."

Conway qualified second in the AGT class in the #09 Team X-1R Chevrolet Camaro with a time of 1:54.098.

Thed Bjork also picked up a Grand-Am class track record in the SRPII division with a lap time of 1:47.035 at a speed of 119.737 mph in the #79 Team Sweden Nissan Lola.

"The traffic was terrible," said Bjork, who is competing in his first Grand-Am race. "But I found spots where I could pass easy. The team is very good."

The fastest qualifier for the GTS class was #0 Bytzek Motorsport Porsche GT1 driven by Scott Maxwell, whose best lap time was 1:46.848 at 119.946 mph. The Corvette Racing Team's #2 and #3 cars qualified in the GTS class' second and third positions, respectively. The #2 Corvette had Ron Fellows behind the wheel, while Andy Pilgrim drove the #3 car, which has Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kelly Collins completing its
driver lineup.

Joao Barbosa had the fastest lap time for the GT class in the #02 Morrison/Mosler Racing Mosler at 1:52.346. The #54 JET Motorsports BMW M3 recorded the second fastest time in the GT class with 1:52.767.

The green flag will fall on the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Saturday at 1 p.m. Live timing and scoring will be available on the Grand-Am web site at www.grand-am.com. The entire 24-hour race will be televised live on Speedvision. MRN Radio will also have a live broadcast at the start and finish of the race, with updates throughout Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

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For more information, you can contact me by email: rick@rickaracing.com