Penske Racing brought a pair of brand-new Porsche-powered Riley Daytona Prototypes to the Grand-Am November Test Days at Daytona International Speedway, driven by NASCAR champion Kurt Busch, three-time 2008 IndyCar Series winner Ryan Briscoe, and Timo Bernhard.
Penske Racing finished third overall in the 2008 Rolex 24 at Daytona in a joint effort with Wayne Taylor Racing, but this year, the team will be going up against the rest of the field in its own right.
Romain Dumas tested a single Porsche Riley at Daytona during October test days but for November, he was joined by drivers from the respective Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar Series teams.
"The first step in the Rolex 24 is to surround yourself with a good team, and the Penske team is very qualified," Busch said. "All the crew guys, all the team officials that make calls, it's exciting for me to be part of something this strong. I know I'm the weakest link and I've got the most homework to do."
This will be Busch's third attempt at the Rolex 24. He debuted in the event in 2005, finishing 27th in a Ford Multimatic co-driving with Scott Maxwell and Matt Kenseth.
"It's a treat to get in the sports cars," he said. "I'm learning more and more about the chassis manufacturers and the engines. It's a change of pace, obviously, but at the same time, it's an opportunity to gel with the Penske team. This year I have the opportunity to do it with Timo and Romain, and we're going to be competing with Helio (Castroneves) and Briscoe, where I was with those guys last year. It's a unique balance and chemistry change."
Briscoe said the preparation for the 2009 event is a major change from the 2008 Rolex 24 - Penske Racing's first time in the enduro since 1973.
"We've got more time to prepare this time around," Briscoe said. "Last year it was a late decision, and everything was put together very quickly. We had all the help and information from Wayne Taylor Racing, and they helped us get the car prepared. It was great to partner with Wayne Taylor Racing. This year, Penske Racing is getting serious about it and running it themselves."