Shank Squad Fast In Daytona Test

John Pew and Ozz Negri will share the driving duties in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley in the inaugural season of the all-new TUDOR Championship, (Grand-Am Photo)
Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 Daytona Prototype, seen here during the 2012 Rolex 24, was fastest on the first day of the Road Before the 24 Grand-Am Rolex Series test session at Daytona Int’l Speedway Friday. (Grand-Am Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Roar Before The Rolex 24, the annual three-day testing session in advance of the 51st anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27, kicked off on Friday at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Fifty-nine Rolex Sports Car Series machines including 17 Daytona Prototypes, 36 GT class entries and six GX class cars turned test laps on the 3.56-mile road course in advance of the prestigious twice-around-the-clock challenge. In the Continental Tire Sports Challenge, 56 cars were testing for the season-opening Grand-Am 200 on Friday, Jan. 25.

The speed charts following the first day of testing look much like the race results from last year’s 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Fastest of the day in the Rolex Series was the defending race champion No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley with A.J. Allmendinger, who turned a lap of 124.526 mph.

“As soon as I got in it, the first couple of laps, I was like this thing feels pretty good,” said Allmendinger, who along with Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson and John Pew captured the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona. “Obviously conditions are going to change and you’re going to have to stay up with the race track but when you can go out there right away and be fast and not even push the car too hard is a good feeling.

“Coming in here, you see everybody’s faces, Michael Shank especially and the crew guys. It’s exciting to come back and be defending champions but it also inspires us to go do it again because we know what it was like to be in (Gatorade) Victory Lane and what that feeling was and to be able to celebrate with each other.”

Last year’s GT class champions in the Rolex 24 – Magnus Racing – was fastest in class on Friday with the No. 44 Porsche GT3 Cup and driver Andy Lally, who posted a speed of 117.232 mph.

In the newly formed GX class, the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman with David Donohue was fastest with a lap of 109.104 mph.