FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PREVIEW: ROLEX 24
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 2nd, 2005)
The Crown Royal Ford "Team of Champions" returns to the site of one of
Multimatic Motorsports greatest ever triumphs at Daytona International
Speedway this week.
Multimatic won the first ever race for the new Daytona Prototype class
at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2003, but the Toronto-based squad is well
aware the 2005 challenge will be significantly tougher.
A huge star-studded field of 64 cars including 29 Daytona Prototypes
are entered for the 43rd running of the Rolex 24. The Crown Royal squad
features some of the biggest names in the sport including 2004 NEXTEL
Cup Champion, Kurt Busch; 2003 Winston Cup Champion Matt Kenseth;
NASCAR season-closing Ford 400 winner Greg Biffle; and Multimatic's
2003 Rolex 24 stand-out, Scott Maxwell.
The three Nextel Cup stars collected seven wins, 22 top fives and 45
top ten finishes in 2004 with Busch winning the title for the first
time, taking over the crown from Kenseth's 2003 championship.
While the three Roush Racing drivers will make their debut at the
Rolex 24 at Daytona, all of them recorded top ten qualifying
performances on road courses in Nextel Cup in 2004 with Busch and
Kenseth also scoring top ten finishes.
Ford will be chasing its fourth overall victory in the Rolex 24 at
Daytona this year. After winning the first ever 24 Hour in '66, Ford
also powered the winning Dyson Racing, Riley & Scott entries in
1997 and '99.
However, Multimatic Vice President and team Technincal Director, Larry
Holt knows the Crown Royal squad faces a big challenge ahead.
"This is an amazingly competitive grid and I am really thrilled
for everybody at Grand-Am - however, it does make our job tougher,"
"We do however, have an outstanding driver line-up. Scott Maxwell
has done hundreds of hours developing this car and our three guys from
NASCAR have an enormous amount of natural ability.
"I was very pleased with their efforts at the test day. Kurt is
an incredible talent, Matt is extremely methodical and very technically
minded while Greg is a hard charger who is extremely focussed.
"They are all different but a lot of fun to work with. The chemistry within the Crown Royal team is really fantastic."
"We are excited that Crown Royal will kick off the 2005 racing season
with four championship drivers in the Rolex 24," said Jerry Knight,
brand director, Crown Royal. "This all-star team provides us not only
with a great opportunity to start out the season with a trip to victory
lane, but also provides us with a highly-visible platform to promote
and advance our message around responsible drinking."
This week's 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona features some of the biggest names
in the world of motorsport including NASCAR stars Busch, Kenseth,
Biffle, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby & Terry Labonte, Casey
Mears and Jamie McMurray; IRL IndyCar series aces Buddy Rice (2004 Indy
500 winner), Scott Dixon (2003 IRL Champion), Darren Manning, Dario
Franchitti, Dan Weldon, Bryan Herta and Scott Sharp; Toyota F1 test
star and new IRL signing, Ryan Briscoe; ex-Formula 1 drivers Stefan
Johansson, Jan Magnussen, Karl Wendlinger, Christian Fittipaldi and
Roberto Moreno; CART stars Sebasien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta;
movie legend Paul Newman; Australian V8 Supercar champion, Marcos
Ambrose; plus a host of international sports car stars led by reigning
Rolex Series champions Scott Pruett and Max Papis.
"It seemed like it was a couple of weeks ago that I was able to hold up the NEXTEL Cup trophy, and the next time I'm in a car I'm a rookie in the Rolex Series at Daytona. Again, it's another challenge in my resume that I want to try to complete.
"I had the opportunity to run a Champ Car a few years ago and treated the opportunity as an audition, but it's obvious my primary background is with oval racing.
"It's a great opportunity Ford has put together. Crown Royal is our primary sponsor, which will be on my NEXTEL Cup car for a few races this year. It gives me a great chance to work with them.
"I'm exited about learning a new track and style of car and working with a different group of guys."
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"It's all a big difference. They don't drive anything like our Cup cars, which is good because our Cup cars don't drive very good at road courses, at least mine doesn't. This is a lot of fun and I think the car is going to be there.
"It's going to be fun to race with all of these guys all in the same car. It's fun, but it's also kind of pressure in a way.
"It's a 24-hour race and you think about that, yet it's hard not look at each other's lap times and try to keep up. It's a lot different.
"They stop a lot quicker, they accelerate quicker, they turn faster; they do everything more like a race car should compared to what our cars are. I'm real excited about it."
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"This is a whole other world for me. I can't say enough for the Multimatic team and Scotty for helping me transition into this car. He's probably getting tired of me asking questions, but he's been very, very helpful and everybody has.
"I just need to keep it off of the grass and on the race track; there's a little more traction there. I've learned a lot in a short amount of time. I've never been around this race track before and never driven a sequential shift car, and I'm adapting to it fairly quickly. I feel like I'm picking it up pretty good.
"It's probably the most fun that I've ever had in a race car."
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"This is going to be a fantastic weekend because I have three very talented team-mates who are very keen to learn.
"I have a different kind of role this week because I am also coaching the guys - not telling them how to drive - but helping them with all the different aspects of sports car racing that they are not familiar with.
"All three are extremely talented and it is just going to be the case of getting used to the night driving, the traffic and the length of time in the car - it will be a whole new experience for them. I really enjoyed working with them at the test. All three were very intense and professional, but also fun to be with."
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