Endurance race has become all-star event


Published: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

DAYTONA BEACH — NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon? Check.

Facts

Unser Jr. charged with DUI after crash

  • LAS VEGAS — Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. was charged with driving under the influence after leaving the scene of a freeway crash.
He was arrested after he was identified as the driver of a car that sideswiped another on the Las Vegas Beltway on Thursday, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Honea said. Unser's vehicle had little damage, but the other car crashed into a cement center median. The driver reported no injuries at the scene, Honea said Friday. Honea said Unser failed several field sobriety tests before being taken into custody. Unser was charged with driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident. — The AP5p6 BREAKOUT COLUMNTodayon TVAT A GLANCE
  • Rolex Sports Car Series, 24 Hours of Daytona, 2:30 p.m., SPEED
  • IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr.? Check.

    Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya? Check.

    It's a who's who of auto racing for today's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

    And there they were Friday, millions of dollars' worth of auto-racing talent, sitting on a concrete wall — NASCAR champions Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Labonte, alongside open-wheel stars Hornish Jr., Helio Castroneves, Paul Tracy, Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon. Not to mention Montoya, who's making the big jump to NASCAR this year.

    They, plus a few other big names — such as NASCAR's Tony Stewart and Champ Car's Jimmy Vasser — neither of whom made the all-star Victory Circle photo op Friday — will take part in the twice-around-the-clock endurance battle.

    "Phew, this is some company to be in," said Jorg Bergmeister, one of the road-racing stars rubbing shoulders with the big-name visitors in Victory Circle.

    Last year, the German driver became the only driver to win championships in both American sports cars series — Grand Am and the competing American Le Mans Series.

    It's the season-opener for everyone, and the starting lineup will include about 70 cars in two classes.

    Montoya, whose previous endurance experience consists of some 12-hour go-kart races and a couple of six-hour events more than 10 years ago in his native Colombia, is getting used to trying new things.

    He's about to begin his first full season of stock-car racing for his one-time open-wheel boss Chip Ganassi, who owns the Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype that Montoya will share this weekend with defending Grand Am champion Scott Pruett and Salvador Duran of Mexico.

    One big difference for Montoya and the other big-name drivers in the race is sharing the responsibility.

    "You don't want to be the guy that causes the problem," Montoya said. "You've got to learn that you win together and you lose together. I think races like this build great driver relationships."

    Endurance racing isn't necessarily head-to-head racing like NASCAR and open-wheel.

    "The thing is you never know who you're really racing against here," Montoya explained. "You get in the car, and it could be any of the drivers on that team."

    Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

    Comments are currently unavailable on this article

    ▲ Return to Top