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Verizon Festival of Speed preview

Last year's Verizon Festival of Speed at Laguna Seca produced a first-time Rolex Series winner when Ryan Dalziel and Henri Zogaib teamed up to give SAMAX its first victory and, with three of the last four series races doing likewise, there are good odds on the return to the historic circuit doing it again.

The most recent Rolex Series event saw Krohn Racing's Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson give the Proto-Auto Lola chassis its first victory, as well as Zonta's first triumph, while John Pew and Ian James won for the first time for Michael Shank Racing in the 2008 season finale at Miller Motorsports Park, and Darren Law scored his first Daytona Prototype victory in the 2009 season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

That trend could continue this weekend, as Penske Racing's Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas have qualified on the front row for all three races this season, and led each event too. Dumas won the pole at New Jersey in what was his first Rolex Series qualifying attempt, and both drivers led in Penske Racing's #12 Verizon Wireless Porsche Riley. A cut left-rear tyre led to an unscheduled pit-stop late in the race, however, with Bernhard battling back to finish third.

While SAMAX is not entered in this weekend's race, team manager Peter Baron is directing the Orbit Racing Daytona Prototype effort. Bill Lester - who is yet to win in the class - is paired with Dalziel in the same car that won last year's event, now running as the #45 entry.

Another winless team, Supercar Life Racing, finished fourth in its most recent outing at Virginia International Raceway with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut, and could be a candidate for victory, along with other teams looking for their first victory, such as Childress-Howard Motorsports and Beyer Racing, the latter now fielding a Comptech/Honda-powered DP for the first time in the hands of Jordan Taylor and Jared Beyer. The Beyer team will also race the #13 Lennox Pontiac Riley for Ricky Taylor and Mike Forest, who will be making his Daytona Prototype debut.

Rolex 24 winners Law and David Donohue, co-drivers of the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley, enter the race with a four-point lead over Virginia winners Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who share the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley.

Meanwhile, three teams are within three points of the lead in the hotly-contested Acxiom GT championship chase after Leh Keen and Dirk Werner won at New Jersey Motorsports Park to pull into a tie for second. While he has yet to win this season, Spencer Pumpelly has finished second twice in TRG's #66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber Porsche GT3 to hold the series lead with 89 points.

Tied for second with Keen and Werner - who both return this weekend in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 - are VIR winners Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, who drive Stevenson Motorsports' #57 Bryan Mark Financial Pontiac GXP.R.


Related Pictures

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The #16 Penske Racing entry [Pic credit: grand am]
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)
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]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
Michael Valiante/Joh Pew - Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Ricardo Zonta/Nic Jonsson - Krohn Racing Lola-Ford   [pic credit: Grand-Am]
Ricardo Zonta/Nic Jonsson - Krohn Racing Lola-Ford   {pic credit: Grand-Am]

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