Andretti Autosports' reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will be competing in the 51st GRAND-AM Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona event later in January, it's been confirmed.
Hunter-Reay will be one of the drivers of the #10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype entered by Wayne Taylor Racing. His co-drivers will be Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor. It will be Hunter-Reay's seventh consecutive appearance in the event, and his 16th outing in GRAND-AM.
"I look forward to once again be driving for Wayne and working with the team that catapulted my career resurgence in 2006," said the 32-year-old who now lives in Florida. "After winning the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship with Team Chevy, I'm delighted to be an integral part of Chevrolet's biggest US endurance event of the year."
Although Hunter-Reay was in the driver line-up of the winning car in the 2007 season-ending 1,000-mile endurance race at Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City, he has yet to clinch a podium in the Daytona race. Last year he finished in tenth place in a Starworks Motorsport car, with his IndyCar team mate Marco Andretti as one of his fellow drivers.
Andretti is not taking part in the event this year, but other competitors already announced for this year's 24 hour endurance race include Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson. Wilson was one of the drivers of the winning car in 2012, along with AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri and John Pew. (See separate story
This weekend sees the last three-day pre-race test opportunity for the drivers ahead of the race itself, which will be run on January 26-27.
Hunter-Reay is also currently celebrating the birth of his first child, after his wife Beccy delivered 6 pound, 8 ounce Ryden Hunter-Reay on December 28. "I thought we would be dealing with this in mid-January, so it was unexpected," Hunter-Reay admitted. "He was born on December 28, which is my car number, so I guess it was meant to be.
"His name is Ryden because my wife Beccy really wanted him to have the initials RHR. He's amazing, it was such an amazing experience," he added. "The first time through is a magic experience but as a dad standing alongside, it was very nerve-racking."Waltrip teams with AF Corse for Daytona
Michael Waltrip Racing will be entering a Ferrari 458 GT in association with AF Corse in this year's GRAND-AM Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona, with MWR team co-owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman themselves forming part of the driver line-up.
"Daytona is always special whether it's the 24 Hours or the Daytona 500,” said Waltrip. “Last year was my first year in the Rolex 24 and it was so cool. The road course is awesome." As well as fielding a previous entry at Daytona, MWR has also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans event.
As well as Waltrip and Kauffman, the team has also called up Clint Bowyer to drive the car during the endurance event. Bowyer was the runner-up in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with MWR.
“I'm not really sure what I got myself into,” admitted Bowyer. “Rob asked me to race and I said I would do it. Everyone has told me how much fun this race is. So, I'm ready. Running 24 hours is a long time, but we will give it our best shot.”
Waltrip - a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 NASCAR season opener - is a big fan of the venue. "During the day you can see families walking around the infield taking in all the sights and at night the place comes alive when the Ferris Wheel and all the race cars light up," he explained. "The drivers are having fun and the fans are having fun.”GRAND-AM appoints new race director
Veteran road racing official Paul Walter has been hired as GRAND-AM's new race director with immediate effect, including the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona. Walter already holds the same position in the American Le Mans Series, and the appointment is in advance of the merger of the two series in 2014.
“I'm honoured to join GRAND-AM for this landmark 2013 season,” said Walter said. “As everyone at GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series work together in preparation for the future of professional sports car racing, we have an unprecedented opportunity to share insights and ideas. I'm looking forward to being part of that."
Walter has been the race director for the USF2000 open-wheel series since January 2010 and will serve as competition director for USF2000 and the Pro Mazda Championship in 2013 at events that do not conflict with his GRAMD-AM/ALMS commitments. Walter was previously operations manager for Tasman Motorsports Group/Forsythe Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series from 1996-2001 and was race director of the Formula BMW Series from 2005-2009.