Rolex 24 Preview

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season kicks off this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, where 54 cars and 216 drivers will participate in the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Verizon IndyCar Series will once again be well represented, with an impressive group of talented drivers.

Chip Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan enter the race on Daytona International Speedway’s road course as the defending overall champions of the prestigious endurance event, along with Ganassi NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. The group will once again pilot the No. 02 Ford Ecoboost/Riley Prototype in its swansong event as the Ganassi sports car program shifts focus to the Ford GT.

While Dixon and Kanaan are bringing down the competition curtain with their car, Graham Rahal will be part of the unveiling for BMW’s M6 in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans competition with the BMW Team RLL that his father co-owns.

Dixon, Kanaan, and Rahal are among nine current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers scheduled to compete in the 24-hour marathon race that kicks off the North American sports car season. Others slated to drive include Mikhail Aleshin, Sebastien Bourdais, Jack Hawksworth, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Spencer Pigot.

GraphicIn all, the Rolex 24 roster boasts 24 drivers who have competed in an IndyCar event, including 11 who have won an IndyCar race. The past five Rolex 24 overall winning teams have included at least one Verizon IndyCar Series regular. Dixon, fifth on the all-time Indy car wins list with 38, has driven IndyCars for Ganassi since 2002, and has been a part of the Daytona team nearly as long.

“I think I’ve done every one of the Rolex 24-hour races since Chip started the program back in 2004,” Dixon said. “For the team, it’s become a tradition in January for us and it’s a great way to start the racing season in Daytona. I really enjoy driving the Prototype cars and the 24-hour races are something totally different from what we usually do in INDYCAR. This is the last time we’ll be running the Prototype, so we obviously want to end on a high note.”

Rahal will team with Lucas Luhr (who drove in one Verizon IndyCar Series race in 2013), John Edwards and Kuno Wittmer in the debut for the No. 100 Team RLL BMW M6. The car number is significant since BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. It was also 40 years ago that BMW collected its first overall Rolex 24 win.

“I am thrilled to be joining BMW for a third year in a row and now in the new M6,” Rahal said. “I think they have once again assembled a great team and, with the top-notch mechanics and team at RLL behind us, I think we should have a great shot to pick up my second Daytona 24-hour win in a BMW-powered machine.”

Practice and qualifying for the Rolex 24 will be held on Thursday(1/28) with a final practice session on Friday. The 24-hour race begins at 2:40 PM ET on Saturday (1/30). The finish (Sunday) comes six weeks to the day before the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series opener – the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13.

Information for the Rolex 24 at Daytona is listed below.

The full Television schedule for the event can be seen below.

sched

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