The Rolex 24 hours kicks off the American racing season at Daytona at the end of January, two weeks before the 500. Chip Ganassi’s Grand-Am operation has been the team to beat in recent years, winning the race in 2007 and ’08 and finishing a close second in ’09. Ganassi’s Lexus-powered Rileys have been rebranded with Toyota engines for this coming season. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, the 2008 Grand-Am champions, will head the driving team, aided at Daytona by the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.
Among those hoping to beat Ganassi are defending Grand-Am champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty aboard Bob Stallings’ Gainsco Riley-Pontiac. Gurney and Fogarty also won the championship in 2007, but they have yet to seriously challenge for victory at the season-opening Rolex 24. With Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser once again joining them at Daytona, they hope to do so this year.
Other contenders include 2009 Rolex 24 winner Brumos Racing, with a pair of Porsche-powered Rileys led by David Donohue, and Wayne Taylor’s Dallara-Ford with Max Angelelli leading the driving team. Roger Penske’s team will not run in Grand-Am this year, moving its Verizon sponsorship to Will Power’s third Indycar.