Petty, Earnhardt and Allison are names synonymous with Daytona International Speedway. These NASCAR giants have seen Victory Lane at the famed tri-oval multiple times.
Haywood, Bell and Gregg are also names associated with Daytona’s Victory Lane. These sports car legends are part of the storied winning lore on the Florida high banks.
At the end of January, the stock car and road racing worlds will collide in the 24 Hours of Daytona. This is the crown jewel of the Grand American Series and plenty of NASCAR stars will make up the driving teams in the speedy Prototypes.
Jimmie Johnson has used his time in the Bob Stallings Racing Riley chassis to hone his road racing skills over the years. The five-time consecutive Cup champion will be teamed with regular pilots Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney for a run at the coveted winner’s Rolex watch.
Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya come out of Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR stable to join Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti from Ganassi’s Indycar lineup. The quartette make up the group that will steer a second entry from the CGR Grand Am shop. Montoya is a former 24-hour race winner and McMurray scored a huge win in the Daytona 500 one year ago.
Richard Petty Motorsports driver A.J. Allmendinger and former Michael Waltrip Racing pilot Michael McDowell will make up the NASCAR part of a Michael Shank Racing team. Indycar star Justin Wilson will be the third man in the Prototype. Allmendinger will make his sixth start in this race and he has led in every attempt so far.
Kenny Wallace and Brendan Gaughan will be part of the TRG driving teams. The Racers Group had a strong background in road racing before venturing over to NASCAR. A pair of Porsches will be fielded out of the Mooresville, NC headquarters for the GT class. Wallace and Gaughan will be drivers but not on the same team. Each will share duties with a separate group on each entry.
Jeffrey Earnhardt will be in the GT field as well. Dale Earnhardt’s grandson will be behind the wheel of a Porsche for Rick Ware Racing. Ware also has fielded entries in the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series.
Boris Said is well known to NASCAR fans with his stock car road-racing prowess. But putting him in his Turner Motorsports BMW is like giving him a home game. This is what Said does. Said is a favorite to win the GT class and pick up yet another trophy to add to his collection.
Former Roush Racing Truck and Nationwide Series driver Colin Braun returns to the form of racing where he gained all of his full-size car experience. Braun will team with defending 24-Hour race champion Ryan Dalziel in Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsports team.
The NASCAR crowd runs a high majority of its races on ovals. This can suppress the sometimes hidden road racing talents of the men in the “Left Turn League.” Some effective road course driving can come from NASCAR and be a strong spot on a team’s roster.
A lot can happen in a 3-hour, 500-mile stock car race. Even more can happen in a 24-hour, 2500-mile endurance grind.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Mondays at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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