The road racing contingent of Team Super Chevy headed down to the Rolex 24 at Daytona last January, a storied event that also included the Koni Challenge Series three-hour race on Friday.
While taking nothing away from the 24-hour race, the Fresh From Florida 200 saw a field of 103 cars take the green flag, split between 59 Grand Sport machines and 44 Street Tuner cars, each fighting for class victories on the famed 3.56-mile Daytona road course. The series features production-based cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Acura TSX, Dodge Neon SRT4, and the Mazda RX-8, with some suspension modifications and mostly stock motors. Last year's series-dominating Cobalts gave a little away on straight-line speed, but finished very respectably, with two Bow Tie machines finishing in the top 10. The top finish came from Team Cobalt California, with drivers Thomas Lepper and Bo Roach charging up from a 16th qualifying position to finish ninth.
"The car was really good under braking," Roach said. "I really had to work the draft on the high banking to try and keep up."
In the grueling 24-hour, a race that's considered the official opening of Speedweeks at Daytona, three new-for-2007 Chevy Corvettes took the green flag at 1:30 p.m. on January 27th, racing in the GT class of the event.
In the Rolex series, two types of vehicles compete, the slick Daytona Prototypes and the production-based Grand Touring machines. Daytona Prototypes are purpose-built racers, with tube-framed chassis, carbon-fiber bodywork, and extensive ground effects. The GT class features cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Pontiac GXP.R. While similar to the Koni Challenge cars on the exterior, the GT cars have mostly silhouette bodies, and feature a tube-frame chassis, exotic suspension setups, and heavily modified motors.
As with any new racing program there are always some teething problems, but each Vette showed the pace that will carry them through the 2007 Rolex season. The top finisher was the No. 42 HRPWorld/Team Sahlen Corvette driven by Joe, Will, and Wayne Nonnamaker, perennial Rolex stalwarts, along with Joe Sahlen. The team finished 21st in class, out of a massive 42-car field.
The Chip Ganassi No. 01 Lexus/Riley Daytona Prototype was the overall winner, completing 668 laps in the 24-hour timed event, with Scott Pruett, Salvador Duran, and Juan Pablo Montoya sharing driving duties.