The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the Daytona 500 for the Grand-AM sports car series. Since NASCAR owns Grand-AM, many NASCAR drivers participate in this 24-hour endurance race which has grown to become one of the most iconic races in the world. Besides NASCAR drivers, drivers from all types of series including the IZOD INDY Car Series, Formula 1, etc. participate within this event.
Several NASCAR drivers highlighted the Rolex 24 this year. Two drivers were in the mix at the end of the event which proves how talented NASCAR drivers truly are. There were a few part-time and former NASCAR drivers in the event such as Christian Fittipaldi who drove for Petty Enterprises in 2003, Max Papis who will run a part-time Nationwide Series schedule for Richard Childress Racing, Scott Pruet who’s now full-time in Grand Am and has been for quite some time now, Paul Tracy who ran six Nationwide Series races and a Camping World Truck Series race a few years ago, Colin Braun who was once a promising driver for what was then Roush Racing, but was unable to continue in NASCAR because his sponsor dropped out of the sport, Boris Said who’s always a fan favorite at the road courses, Jan Magnussen who made one Sprint Cup Series race in 2010 with James Finch, Patrick Long who start and parked for Inception Motorsports at Watkins Glen in 2012 and ran in the top-15 for Eddie D’Hondt at Road America in 2010 and Tony Ave who raced a few times for TriStar Motorsports in the Nationwide Series a few years ago at the road courses.
The list of drivers that have made attempts in NASCAR goes on and on, but they all seem to be racing against each other every year at the Rolex 24. This year, current NASCAR drivers made highlights throughout the 24-hour event. A.J. Allmendinger came back from several laps down to end up in third, that’s just flat out sick. He didn’t do it on his own though. He had some help from his former Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Marcos Ambrose who was one of the four co-drivers for Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 car. The great run shows that Allmendinger still has the will to win even after the events that occurred last July at the same place, Daytona.
Jamie McMurray was in the No. 02 car for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, but that was a failed effort after that car had some mechanical issues. McMurray was able to lead a few laps though and he had a rather sporty McDonald’s uniform which will probably be the one he uses throughout the season. Ganassi’s other entry, the No. 01 car, had Pruet with Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya flat out dominated the day and took Ganassi back to victory lane in the Daytona Prototype class in dominating fashion. It was also Pruet’s fifth Rolex 24 win.
Michael Waltrip’s entry was surprisingly competitive throughout the Rolex 24. AF Waltrip raced their Ferrari to a top-10 finish with Clint Bowyer helping out as well. Bowyer and Waltrip piloted the car and definitely raised some eyebrows in their first attempt at the Rolex 24.
Nelson Piquet Jr. piloted the No. 5 car for Action Express Racing to a top-10 finish as well. Piquet is attempting to make it into NASCAR and raced rather competitively during his seat time during the Rolex 24.
Overall, drivers with a background in NASCAR which were involved in the 2013 Rolex 24 were upfront for the majority of the event. It seems like America’s most grueling racing event has definitely taken to the liking of some of NASCAR’s superstars.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.