With the long winter about to end and baseball's pitchers and catchers about to report to spring training, it's about time to get back to the track for the first major race of the year - the Rolex 24! Before the green flag drops on Saturday afternoon for the iconic 24 hour showdown, here are some storylines to follow.
This year's Rolex 24 field is as diverse as past editions, featuring more than 200 drivers in 61 cars across five classes. The drivers represent all disciplines of motorsports from IMSA to IndyCar to NASCAR and beyond. As for country representation - over 30 countries and all 6 inhabitable continents are well-represented in the field this year.
The IndyCar contingent is led by New Zealander and 6-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, partnering with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande in the 01 Cadillac factory entry while Colton Herta will be pulling the double, alternating between driving the 24 and 25 BMW factory cars. Also among the IndyCar delegation are Simon Pagenaud and Rinus VeeKay.
Meyer Shank Attempts To Defend
Meyer Shank Racing is back with last year's championship team, led by 4-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who himself is looking for his third straight Rolex win having won in 2021 with Wayne Taylor Racing as well as last year with Meyer Shank. Of course, looking to stop Castroneves and the Meyer Shank team is the old standby of Wayne Taylor Racing. The 10 Konica Minolta team let by Wayne's son Ricky and Portuguese driver Felipe Albuquerque. Joining them is Swiss driver Louis Deletraz and New Zealander Brendon Hartley from the World Endurance Cup.
With the checkers falling at last year's Petit Le Mans in October also came the end of the half-decade era of the Daytona Prototype International - DPI - class. In its place comes the all-new Grand Touring Prototype class. Expect speeds comparable to the old Daytona Prototypes and DPIs, but more competition, more action and an all-around better on-track product. It will be a learning curve at first for driver and team, but once we get to Long Beach in April or the Six Hours of the Glen in June, working on and racing these cars may just end up being second nature to those involved.
The first test comes Saturday afternoon in the 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.