Rolex 24 At Daytona Company press release.
In motorsports racing, every driver aims to win pole position whenever and wherever they race, bringing to mind the old adage 'Lead, follow or get out of the way.' With the completion of the qualifying sessions for the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona, three drivers can enjoy the knowledge (and bragging rights) associated with earning pole position for their class as just over 48 hours remains to prepare for the iconic endurance race which starts at 1530 EST on Saturday, 26 January 2013.
Posting a lap of 1:40.553 (127.455mph) during Daytona Prototype (DP) qualifying, American driver Scott Pruett will start from pole position in the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley. 'It was exciting to go out there and get it done,' said Pruett of his third career pole at the Rolex 24. Pruett, who comes into the race as the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champion, has won this race eight times in class and four times overall and is unconcerned that he is one away from tying Hurley Haywood's record five wins of the twice-around-the-clock challenge. 'If it's meant to be it is. The good Lord's blessed me with this incredible career. I'm going on my 45th or 46th year of driving and I wake up every morning and pinch myself. To come to a place like Daytona…I get goose bumps just being here.'
Starting from pole allows these drivers to avoid traffic, as well as the mistakes of other drivers. Cars approach turn one at close to 200 mph, and applying their brakes while downshifting into the corner on the first lap leads cars in mid-pack to crowd each other and even touch, causing one or both cars to spin out -- obviously not an ideal way to begin a race.
Britain's Nick Tandy, driving the #32 Konrad Motorsport/Orbit Porsche GT3 Cup car, won the GT pole with a time of 1:47.631 (119.074 mph). 'We went out later in the session in order to preserve tyres and brakes,' said Tandy of his team's strategy. 'It is huge to have pole position because we won't need to be chasing the race right from the start and in this way we don't stress the car, the tyres and the brakes. At the Rolex 24 At Daytona every single lap you have to be on, so having a little less pressure from the start by being on pole is huge.'
As he was at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month, Florida resident Shane Lewis was fastest in GX with a lap of 1:54.606 (111.827 mph) at the wheel of the #16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman. He becomes the first-ever pole winner in the class which debuts at this race.
'I ran faster in practice than I did in qualifying because I couldn't find anyone to draft with,' said Lewis who is marking his 16th time racing the Rolex 24 At Daytona. 'Daytona is a very special place. To start on the pole when thousands of fans are going to be here is very special.'
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Rolex has been a partner of the Daytona International Speedway since its earliest beginnings, and title sponsor of the Rolex 24 At Daytona since 1992. A Press Pack about the Rolex 24 At Daytona is available to download here and Photo Story highlighting the race's heritage and atmosphere is available to view here.
Further information on the Rolex 24 At Daytona may be found at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com and http://www.grand-am.com.
1st photo: Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper
2nd photo: Photo By: Rolex / Tom O'Neal