Grand-Am Ready For Brickyard Debut
INDIANAPOLIS – Consider it one-stop shopping for the die-hard race fan.
With former Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 competitors set to join the starting grid, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Brickyard Grand Prix could well be the summer’s ultimate motorsports ticket this Friday.
The entry list for the Rolex Series’s Indy debut is a Who’s Who of racing.
The 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner – and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star – Juan Pablo Montoya, 2002 Indy 500 runner-up Paul Tracy, 2010 Brickyard 400 champion Jamie McMurray and four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais headline an impressive list of “crossover” talent who will co-drive in the Daytona Prototype class, hoping to be the first to claim glory in GRAND-AM’s initial foray on Indy’s high-speed 2.534-mile road course.
Five former Indy 500 starters – Montoya, Tracy, Bourdais, Eliseo Salazar and Rolex Series regular Scott Pruett – are entered in the Brickyard Grand Prix. McMurray, Montoya and Grand-Am regulars Pruett, Boris Said and Andy Lally bring Brickyard 400 experience. Said, Lally and Salazar will drive in the Rolex Series’ GT class.
Additional intrigue regarding the “one-off” entries: Indy is the three-hour finale of the Rolex Series’ inaugural North American Endurance Championship presented by VISITFLORIDA.com. The special three-race competition began with the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and continued with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen on July 1.
The NAEC champion team in the Daytona Prototype class gets $100,000; Montoya and McMurray are coming aboard to help team owner Chip Ganassi’s chances. They’ll be in the No. 02 Chevron BMW/Riley while Pruett and Memo Rojas will drive the team’s headlining No. 01 TELMEX-sponsored ride. A team’s highest-finishing car earns points toward the championship; Ganassi’s group is third in the NAEC standings coming into Indianapolis.
With the same goal in mind, Bourdais is joining Starworks Motorsport, the NAEC’s second-place team.
Of course, even these great talents from other racing disciplines know they face a formidable group of Grand-Am regulars starting with Pruett, the current Daytona Prototype points leader with Rojas and a four-time series champion. Pruett has his own solid record at the historic track with a combined six starts in the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400.
“Obviously with Juan, Jamie and Scott – who is the poster boy of Grand-Am and sports car racing because he’s so competitive – it’s going to be a great event and I’m excited to get going,” said Tracy, whose controversial runner-up finish to Helio Castroneves in the 2002 Indianapolis 500 is still one of the most talked-about finishes in the iconic track’s long history.
“Whether I won or got second place, it was still a great achievement,” Tracy said. “And now, to be involved in GRAND-AM and the first North American-based sports car series to run on the road course track that was purpose-built for Formula One … it’s a real feather in the cap not only for Grand-Am and all of endurance racing but for all the drivers who have a chance to go there.’’
Bourdais is with Starworks for the second time in the NAEC, following his appearance at Watkins Glen.
“I enjoyed the test in the Daytona Prototype (July 6-7), and found the road course technically demanding,” said Bourdais, who has two Indy 500 starts. “Running with Starworks gives me a great opportunity but I don’t think anything that I learned from the Indianapolis 500 is going to carry over, because the road course is very unique.”
In addition to the Brickyard Grand Prix, Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will have a two-and-a-half hour event on July 27 starting at 1 p.m. Popular NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace, who has 10 Brickyard 400 starts, will make a “guest appearance” in that race, the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge, driving for Rebel Rock Racing.
Collectively, it will amount to one long – and epic – day.
“This is [going to be] kind of crazy with pretty much everything with four wheels,” said Montoya.
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