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Valiante `roars` to quickest Daytona time.

Michael Shank Racing took first blood ahead of the Grand-Am 24 Hours at Daytona after Michael Valiante secured the fastest lap of the day in the 'Roar Before the Rolex 24'.

Kicking off three days of testing for the Grand-Am contingent ahead of the race in a fortnight's time, Valiante ran a time of 1min 41.760secs to haul himself and co-drivers AJ Allmendinger, John Pew and Ian James to the top of the timesheets.

Settling into the team well having switched from SunTrust Racing, Valiante praised Michael Shank Racing for making him feel welcome.

"The car is working real well, and the team has been phenomenal. The team is working well together in the short amount of time I've been here, and they've made it real easy for me to come in and drive the car. We've been working well since the first test here in October."

The opening session was topped by reigning champions and last year's Daytona winners TELMEX Target Chip Ganassi Racing, with Scott Pruett fronting their effort. He will be joined by Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya for this year's race.

"It's always nice to pick up after a winning season," Pruett said. "Last year was huge for Ganassi Racing, winning our third in a row. Now, we're going for four, and that says a lot about the team and the commitment Ganassi has made. We haven't been in these cars since the end of last season, and we missed the testing here in October and November. To come here right out of the box and be fastest in our opening practice is a great way to start the year."

Franchitti, who was also part of the 2008 winning team, jumps to the sister Ganassi car for 2009, where he will race alongside fellow single-seater racers Scott Dixon and Alex Lloyd. He is confident of posing a race win challenge again

"Chip's going for four in a row, so it should be pretty exciting," Franchitti said. "That's an amazing statistic, and it speaks volumes for the job that this team does. The team has done a great job preparing the car, as usual, and it's always exciting to come back to Daytona. It's good to be in the car with Scott.

“We've raced against each other for a long time, so it's nice to be in the same car now, because it gives us a chance to work with each other. My engineer, Chris Simmons, is engineering the No. 02 car, so that will also help get us ready for the IndyCar season. If you look at the entry list, there are many, many strong teams. But these guys are up to the challenge."

Elsewhere, David Donohue led the evening session until the closing minutes, his Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, which he will share with Darren Law and Buddy Rice, ensuring a mix of engine providers in the leading positions.

"The Brumos guys did a great job, because we had issues with the engine in the afternoon session. It started making funny sounds, so the guys went ahead and changed it between sessions. We went out towards the end of the session, and what can I say, the car is good. We've done a lot of testing here, so we're pretty pleased."


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Negri/Patterson/Rahal/Wilson - Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am media]
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Matt Bell, drivers of the # 9 Camaro GS.R, race to second place Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Wilkins/Frisselle - AIM Autosport [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Spencer Pumpelly - TRG Porsche [Pic credit: Grand Am]

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