Saturday, January 18, 2014

Past, Present, and Future Indycar Drivers Representing at Rolex 24

Past, present, and future Indycar drivers will highlight the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with the newly formed TUDOR United SportsCar Series. I went through the entry list and picked out ALL of the past Indycar drivers and thus some of the drivers you should watch out for next weekend! Here's a list of all of the drivers in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona field with Indycar experience (Driver, Team, Chassis, Class, * next to drivers name designates they are signed for the 2014 Indycar season):

AJ Allmendinger
#60 Michael Shank Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 46
Rolex 24 Starts: 8

Racing veteran AJ Allmendinger has been back and fourth between NASCAR and Indycar for a long time now. Dinger split time between both series in 2013, racing in Indycar with Team Penske. 2014 has shaped up well for AJ, with a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for JTG Daugherty Racing. Dinger is back with his usual Rolex 24 squad in Michael Shank Racing. He was a part of the Shank team that won the 2012 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona DP Class. Expect a strong showing from Dinger.

AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson - Rolex 24 - Testing
AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson with MSR in 2013 (Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images NA) 


Townsend Bell
#555 Level 5 Motorsports / Ferrari 458 Italia / GT Daytona Class
Indycar Starts: 36
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

Surprisingly enough, Townsend Bell has never raced in the Rolex 24. That's about to change, as Townsend joins Level 5 Motorsports to race not only the Rolex 24, but also the entire USCC season. The driver, known recently by his one-offs at the Indianapolis 500 and his broadcasting work for NBCSN-Indycar, has plenty of sports car experience.


Sam Bird
#8 Starworks Motorsport / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 0
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

Sam Bird has come to North America after failing to get into Formula 1. The GP2 ace is looking for a way into Indycar, but no deal has been announced yet. The 27 year old Englishmen will be making his Rolex 24 debut for Starworks Motorsport.


Sebastien Bourdais*
#5 Action Express Racing / Corvette DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 113
Rolex 24 Starts: 4

Sebastien Bourdais is a sports car ace, which shouldn't come as a surprise given his success in Indycar. The four time Indycar champion will make his fifth Rolex 24 start. He has also started in ten 24 Hours of Le Mans races, which is quite literally in his backyard. Born in Le Mans, France, Bourdais has what we would like to call "Home Field Advantage". One of Indycar's most decorated driver leaves Dragon Racing after two seasons and will drive for KV Racing next season.


Ryan Briscoe*
#3 Corvette Racing / Chevrolet Corvette C7.R / GT Le Mans Class
Indycar Starts: 111
Rolex 24 Starts: 6

Ryan Briscoe has had quite the offseason! He and his wife Nicole welcomed their first child into the world! Briscoe also was slated to take over the Panther Racing ride before they lost their sponsorship. He then signed on with Chip Ganassi Racing to take on the fourth seat for the next three years. Briscoe will be making his seventh start at the Rolex 24.

Ryan Briscoe - Roar Before the Rolex 24
Ryan Briscoe at the 2012 Rolex 24 (Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images North America)

Gabby Chaves
#0 DeltaWing Racing Cars / DeltaWing DWC13 / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 0
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

Although I don't foresee Chaves cracking Indycar this year, I do see him eventually getting into Indycar. The young 20 year old Colombian had a great season in Indy Lights in 2013, finishing second to Sage Karam in the Championship. Gabby will drive in the DeltaWing car for his first Rolex 24.


Conor Daly
 #09 RSR Racing / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 1
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

Open-wheel stud Conor Daly makes his first trip to Daytona to add yet another car to his list of series run. Daly teams up with fellow Indycar driver and friend Alex Tagliani. Like with every car he drives, I expect Daly to have a solid showing. Daly, who looks intent on racing Indycar in 2014, made his Indycar debut last season at the Indy 500 for AJ Foyt's team.


James Davison
#007 TRG-AMR North America / Aston Martin Vantage GT3 / GT Daytona Class
Indycar Starts: 2
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

James Davison worked hard and it payed off, as the Indy Lights veteran finally made his Indycar debut last season for Dale Coyne Racing. Davison can knock another thing off his bucket list, racing in his first Rolex 24 Hour race. Not only is he racing in an Aston Martin, but he is racing in the #007 car. Badass much?


Scott Dixon*
#02 Chip Ganassi Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 220
Rolex 24 Starts: 10

Current Indycar Champion and overall legend Scott Dixon will look to win his second Rolex in his eleventh start. Dixon, who has now worked his way up to 7th on the all time Indycar wins list with 33 career wins, will not surprisingly be back with Chip Ganassi in 2014. Winning only increases his legendary status.

Scott Dixon - 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Dixon at the 2013 Rolex 24 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Christian Fittipaldi
#5 Action Express Racing / Corvette DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 136
Rolex 24 Starts: 10

One of the bigger names in the entire field is Christian Fittipaldi. Son of legendary racer Emerson Fittipaldi, Christian has pretty much raced everything, and he's a personal favorite of mine. Not sure what it is about him but I just love his aggressive driving style. Fitti spent three years in F1 followed by eight years in CART. Christian was the overall Rolex 24 winner in 2004 with Bell Motorsports. Can he collect a second Rolex?


Memo Gidley
#99 GAINSCO - Bob Stallings Racing / Corvette DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 39
Rolex 24 Starts: 14

A guy I've always rooted for is Memo Gidley. The duel citizen of Mexico and America with German and Canadian ancestry will make a whopping fifteenth Rolex 24 start. I'm still part of that group that thinks Memo is lucky to be living after suffering a terrible crash in 2001 at Road America. Gidley is just another name in a loaded Prototype Group. Can he triumph and collect his first Rolex?

Memo Gidley - Rolex 24 - Testing
Memo Gidley at the 2013 Rolex 24 (Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images North America)

Jan Heylen
#58 Snow Racing / Porsche 911 GT America / GT Daytona Class
Indycar Starts: 23
Rolex 24 Starts: 4

Jan Heylen of Belgium made a brief stint in Indycar during the 2006-2007 Champ Car seasons. His open wheel career sputtered after the Indycar-Champ Car merger. Jan raced in the 2010 Indy Lights opener (where I now point out he finished second) but nothing came about after that. Never had a true chance. Hopefully Jan can take his 911 to a GT Daytona Class victory.


James Hinchcliffe*
#70 SpeedSource Race Engineering / Mazda SKYACTIV-D SDR-14 / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 50
Rolex 24 Starts: 3

The Mayor of Hinchtown is back for a fourth chance at the Rolex 24. Hinch had a breakout 2013 season, recording three wins and a lot of solid runs for Andretti Autosport. Hinch highlights one of the many drivers to watch in the Prototype Class. Hopefully they get him in the pressbox for a bit so we can see Hinch work his commentating magic.


Ryan Hunter-Reay*
#91 SRT Motorsports / SRT Viper GTS-R / GT Le Mans Class
Indycar Starts: 151
Rolex 24 Starts: 7

Ryan Hunter-Reay will make his eighth career Rolex 24 start. A man who has had a career full of hard work would love to add a Rolex watch to his trophy mantle that includes 2012 Indycar Champion and 2007 Indycar Rookie of the Year. Hunter-Reay will once again be back with Andretti Autosport for 2014.


Stefan Johansson
#9 Delta-ADR - Action Express Racing / Corvette DP - Oreca 03-Nissan / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 77
Rolex 24 Starts: 5

Swedish great Stefan Johansson will make his sixth Rolex 24 start. The five year CART veteran and former Formula 1 driver of both McLaren and Ferrari is definitely one of the more talented individuals in field. Expect Stef to hang in with the best of 'em in the Prototype Class.


Bruno Junqueira
#08 RSR Racing / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 123
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

Bruno Junqueira was a pretty damn good Indycar driver. He started 123 races and finished second in the championship three straight season between 2002-2004. He also won the 2002 Indianapolis 500 pole. Bruno fizzed out of Indycar, losing a full time seat after 2008. Quite surprising that he's only made one previous start at the Rolex 24.

Bruno Junqueira - Rolex 24 - Testing
Bruno Junqueira at the 2013 Rolex 24 (Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images North America)

Tony Kanaan*
#02 Chip Ganassi Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 276
Rolex 24 Starts: 2

Tony Kanaan makes his Chip Ganassi debut at the Rolex 24. Tony Kanaan will take over the #10 Chip Ganassi car following the retirement of Dario Franchitti. Dario was the successor to Dan Wheldon in the #10 car, making it one of the most prestigious seats in North America, and maybe even the world. Kanaan will make only his third career start at the Rolex 24. Ganassi has won five of the last eight Rolex 24s, but the #02 entry hasn't won since 2006. Dan Wheldon was on the team that year, and in his debut with Chip Ganassi, he won. Can Kanaan do the same?


Sage Karam
#01 Chip Ganassi Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 0
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

Sage Karam may raise some eyebrows at Daytona. The young 18 year old 2013 Firestone Indy Lights champion is looking for a way into Indycar for the 2014. A strong showing at his first Rolex 24 could be a great start. Not only is this kid full of talent, but he is also racing in the entry that has won four of the last seven Rolex 24s. With veteran teammates that include Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Jamie McMurray, expect Sage to be in contention for a win.


Anthony Lazzaro
#2 Extreme Speed Motorsports / HPD ARX-03b / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 6
Rolex 24 Starts: 15

Anthony Lazzaro is one of the most decorated sports car drives in the field. Lazzaro did have a brief a stint in Indycar in 2001 and 2002 for Sam Schmidt's team. With five Rolex 24 class wins to his name, expect a strong showing from Lazzaro this weekend.


Katherine Legge
#0 DeltaWing Racing Cars / DeltaWing DWC13 / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 39
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

Katherine Legge and her teammates will be rather noticeable on track this year. She is behind the wheel of the innovative Delta Wing in the Prototype Class. Legge was in Champ Car, but was silent from open wheel racing until returning in 2012 with Dragon Racing. Following a controversial firing from Dragon in early 2013, Katherine joined ALMS and DeltaWing Racing Cars for seven rounds of the season. She also ran in the 2013 Indy 500 for Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing. Look for a strong showing from Katherine and the bunch.


Lucas Luhr
#6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing / Oreca 03-Nissan / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 1
Rolex 24 Starts: 11

Lucas Luhr is a beast. The one and done Indycar driver, and one of the great sports car drivers of the last decade, will return to Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. With the merger of ALMS and Grand-Am looming, Gary Pickett wasn't sure if USCC was in the cards, so he and Sarah Fisher combined for a joint effort at Sonoma in 2013 with Luhr behind the wheel. Although the weekend provided a lot of valuable info for Pickett and Luhr, Pickett decided to join in the merger, with Luhr coming back as well. Look for him to make a strong showing.


Jan Magnussen
#3 Corvette Racing / Chevrolet Corvette C7.R / GT Le Mans Class
Indycar Starts: 11
Rolex 24 Starts: 10

Former F1, Indycar, and four time 24 Hour of Le Mans class winner Jan Magnussen will make his eleventh start at the Rolex 24. Father of new McLaren F1 driver Kevin Magnussen, Jan is definitely one of the greats in the field of driver for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.


Raphael Matos
#38 Performance Tech / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 38
Rolex 24 Starts: 6

Raphael 'Rafa' Matos will make his seventh start at the Rolex 24. The 2008 Indy Lights champion and once fabled young gun found himself out of a full time ride in 2011 after two unsuccessful years at Dragon Racing. The last we saw of him in Indycar was DNQ'ing for the 2011 Indianapolis 500. With plenty of experience, expect a strong showing from him in the PC Class.

Raphael Matos - 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Matos at the 2013 Rolex 24 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Simon Pagenaud*
#2 Extreme Speed Motorsports / HPD ARX-03b / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 51
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

One of the most talented guys in Indycar, Simon Pagenaud, will make his second start at the Rolex 24. The driver of the #77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports won two races last year and will look to make a championship run for the 2014 Indycar season. For now, a Rolex 24 win would kick off the year in style.


Max Papis
#31 Marsh Racing / Corvette DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 116
Rolex 24 Starts: 19

'Mad Max' Max Papis will make his 20th start at Daytona for the Rolex 24. Papis, one of the many drivers who highlighted the last stages of CART greatness in the 90s and early 2000s, leads all active drivers in laps raced in the Rolex 24, with 10175 laps run. Papis has also collected two wins, including the overall win in 2002. 


Scott Pruett
#01 Chip Ganassi Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 149
Rolex 24 Starts: 20

Scott Pruett is tied with Hurley Haywood for most Rolex 24 wins all time with five (1994, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013). Pruett has been dominant at Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing recently. If you need a to make a bet on someone, take a bet on him. Also, note how many times he says "I'd like to say hi to my wife and kids" throughout the 24 Hours. Pruett was very good Indycar driver in the CART days, with his most notable win coming at the 1995 Michigan 500.

Scott Pruett - 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Pruett, pictured here at the 2013 Rolex 24, has been one of the most dominant drivers at
Daytona in recent memory (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Graham Rahal*
#56 BMW Team RLL / BMW Z4 GTE / GT Le Mans Class
Indycar Starts: 110
Rolex 24 Starts: 4

Graham will make his fifth Rolex 24 start, but this will be his first start with his father's team BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Graham collected a Rolex 24 overall win in 2011 with Chip Ganassi Racing.  Graham made his full time Indycar debut with his dad's team last year and will be back again this year.


Mika Salo
#72 SMP Racing / Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 / GT Daytona Class
Indycar Starts: 4
Rolex 24 Starts: 0

A very brief Indycar tenure for Formula 1 veteran Mika Salo means he makes the list! Not too many people know that Mika Salo raced in four races in the 2003 CART Season, recording a podium along the way, which is quite impressive! He is best known for racing in Formula 1 from 1994-2002. Surprisingly enough, the Finn has never raced in the Rolex 24.


Scott Sharp
#1 Extreme Speed Motorsports / HPD ARX-03b / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 167
Rolex 24 Starts: 9

Scott Sharp will be making his tenth Rolex 24 start. The Indycar veteran who recorded nine career wins and the 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole has been a full time sports car driver in ALMS since 2008. Sharp was also the overall Rolex 24 winner in 1996. He will definitely bringing his experience and great driving abilities to the track this year.


Alex Tagliani
#09 RSR Racing / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 201
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

Indycar veteran Alex Tagliani has found a home in USCC. He will be driving full time for RSR Racing in 2014. The man with 201 starts in Indycar and the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole winner lost his ride in Indycar after Toronto for Barracuda Racing. Later in 2013, Tags raced in the Grand-Am series. May he have found his full time home in Sports Cars?


Tristan Vautier
#07 SpeedSource Race Engineering / Mazda SKYACTIV-D SDR-14 / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 19
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

Tristan Vautier will be looking for a fresh start. The Mazda Road to Indy Ace and Indycar Rookie of the Year was not retained by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2014 season, leaving Tristan without a ride. A great performance could go a long way to at least earning a part time gig in USCC.


EJ Viso
#87 BAR1 Motorsports / Oreca FLM09 / Prototype Challenge Class
Indycar Starts: 100
Rolex 24 Starts: 1

EJ Viso looks to move on after starting 100 races in Indycar. Viso appears to be moving to sports car racing for good after being let go from Andretti Autosport after the 2013 season. His 2014 season starts at Daytona, and hopefully more races materialize for him in the future.


Justin Wilson
#60 Michael Shank Racing / Ford EcoBoost Riley DP / Prototype Class
Indycar Starts: 150
Rolex 24 Starts: 6

Justin Wilson will be racing for the first time since suffering a nasty crash in the Indycar season finale at Fontana. The crash saw Wilson fracturing his pelvis. Having made a full recovery, Justin will look to collect another Rolex. Wilson and Michael Shank Racing were the overall Rolex 24 winners in 2012. Wilson is not signed for the 2014 Indycar season, but it should be coming any day.



Other drivers you may have heard of:
  • Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray
  • American F1 hopeful and GP2/GP3 driver Alexander Rossi
  • Former Indy Lights driver Oliver Webb
  • David Brabham, former F1 driver and son of three-time F1 champion Sir Jack Brabham
  • Current Junior Porsche driver and former Pro Mazda ace Connor De Phillippi
  • Former Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman 
  • Long time F1 test drive Brendon Hartley
  • Driver with the 7th most starts in F1 history, Giancarlo Fisichella
  • Former NASCAR driver Andy Lally
  • Alex Brundle, son of Martin Brundle 
  • Former Pro Mazda driver Gustavo Menezes
  • NASCAR road course ace Boris Said
  • Personal friend of mine and class winner last year Dion von Moltke
  • Former F1 driver Markus Winkelhock 
  • Sports car driver and brother of Dario Franchitti, Marino Franchitti 
  • NASCAR young gun Kyle Larson 
  • Former Pro Mazda and Indy Lights driver Rusty Mitchell
  • Alex Gurney, the son of legendary racer Dan Gurney 
  • McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey.

With all of that being said, here's the drivers I think you should keep an eye out for by racing class:


Prototype Class
  • AJ Allmendinger
  • Sebastien Bourdais
  • David Brabham
  • Alex Brundle
  • Gabby Chaves
  • Scott Dixon
  • Christian Fittipaldi
  • Marino Franchitti
  • Memo Gidley
  • Alex Gurney
  • Brendon Hartley
  • James Hinchcliffe
  • Stefan Johansson
  • Tony Kanaan
  • Sage Karam
  • Kyle Larson
  • Anthony Lazzaro
  • Katherine Legge
  • Lucas Luhr
  • Jaime McMurray
  • Simon Pagenaud
  • Max Papis
  • Scott Pruett
  • Alexander Rossi
  • Boris Said
  • Scott Sharp
  • Tristan Vautier
  • Gustavo Yacaman
  • Oliver Webb
  • Justin Wilson

Prototype Challenge Class
  • Sam Bird
  • Conor Daly
  • Bruno Junqueira
  • Raphael Matos
  • Gustavo Menezes
  • Rusty Mitchell
  • Alex Tagliani
  • EJ Viso

GT Le Mans Class
  • Ryan Briscoe
  • Giancarlo Fisichella
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay
  • Jan Magnussen
  • Graham Rahal

GT Daytona Class
  • Townsend Bell
  • James Davison
  • Connor De Phillippi
  • Patrick Dempsey
  • Jan Heylen
  • Andy Lally
  • Mika Salo
  • Dion von Moltke
  • Markus Winkelhock


Bring on the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona!

-Matthew Hickey

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