Pruett looks to make history in Daytona’s 24 Hours

Scott Pruett will aim for the record books during the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Pruett, a four-time Rolex 24 winner, will try to tie Hurley Haywood’s record of five victories this weekend. Pruett was part of last year’s race-winning team in the headlining Daytona Prototype class.

“Tying Hurley’s record would be incredible,” Pruett said. “It’s always exciting — no matter what the sport — to be able to get close and then tie or even surpass one of the great records. Looking at the quality of the teams this year, the Rolex 24 has turned out to be an incredible show.

“It’s going to take a lot of effort, and a bit of luck, to be able to win.”

Qualifying starts on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. The twice-around-the-clock race begins on Saturday.

Pruett is again part of the star-studded entries from the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization. He’s teamed in a BMW/Riley DP entry with Memo Rojas, IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal and sports car veteran Joey Hand.

The second Ganassi team is made up of IndyCar stars Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon and NASCAR drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. Franchitti and Dixon have combined to win six of the last nine IndyCar championships.

A year ago, the race came down to a fight between the two Ganassi cars. Pruett pulled away from Dixon on a smooth final restart to beat his teammate by 2.42 seconds. It gave team owner Ganassi a sweep of sorts in American auto racing — it was his fourth major victory in the United States during a one-year period, adding to the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Except for the Rolex win, Ganassi drivers were shut out of all those races in 2011.

The Ganassi teams this year will be challenged by a five-car contingent of new Corvette DPs, which was unveiled late last year amid great hype because of body designs inspired by Chevrolet’s production Corvette.

Two other heralded cars will debut this weekend with the Corvettes: The Ferrari 458 Italias and Audi R8s were both built specifically for Rolex Series competition. Two-tome Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip will co-drive one of the Ferraris, along with X-Games star Travis Pastrana, Rob Kauffman and Rui Aguas.

The entry is a joint effort of the Italian sports car team AF Corse and Michael Waltrip Racing.

“It’s Daytona, and there’s no place I’d rather race,” Waltrip said. “The Daytona 500 will always be the most important race to me, but this weekend’s race is really special. I’m looking forward to seeing all the drivers from around the world. It’s like all the drivers you have heard about or seen on television gather for this one race. Plus, I can’t wait to spend the week with Rob, Rui and Travis. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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