CORNELIUS, N.C. — Sports car racers from around the world gather this weekend at Daytona International Speedway for the 51st annual Rolex 24. The 24-hour endurance race takes the green flag Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on SPEED-TV. Making its second start on the 3.56-mile road course is the AF Waltrip Racing team featuring drivers Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman, Rui Aguas and Clint Bowyer driving the No. 56 Ferrari 458 GT. The entry is a joint project of the Italian sports car team AF Corse and Michael Waltrip Racing.
KAUFFMAN: “We had a really good test a few weeks ago and are quite optimistic about the 24 Hours. Clint (Bowyer) took to the Ferrari very quickly and was up to speed. He’ll have a great time. If we can keep it on the black stuff (pavement) and out of the garage, I think we have a good competitive position. This is just such a great event, we are all very please to be able to participate.
BOWYER: “I got talked into the Rolex deal. What a deal. I went down there and tested and I was struggling to find where I needed to be on the race track. There was cars that were way faster than me and that’s something that was new for me. It was a lot of fun to be able to race with both bosses — Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip were my teammates. It’s just kind of an enjoyable weekend to be able to test down there. Looking forward to the race and hanging out with the guys for a long time. Twenty-four hours is a long time to stay focused. There’s going to be plenty of 5-hour ENERGY used during the race.”
WALTRIP: “Last year was a lot of fun to get to race in that historic famed event. I always grew up admiring the guys that got to run in that race, and it was quite an honor to be part of it. It’s pretty dramatic as far as the way the cars perform. The Cup cars have so much horsepower. That’s their main commodity is all the power that it has. They don’t stop real well, and honestly they don’t handle too well. And the Ferrari is the opposite. It has a significant amount of power, but nothing like a Cup car. But when you go to hop on the brakes, that baby comes to a stop, and you can really whip it through the infield. So that’s what’s so fun about getting to drive the Ferrari. It’s diversely different than the discipline that I’m accustomed to racing, and it makes it a lot of fun.”
• AF WALTRIP DRIVERS: Waltrip and Kauffman are co-owners of Michael Waltrip Racing that fields three Sprint Cup teams in NASCAR. Bowyer was a three-time winner and runner-up finisher in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Aguas is one of the top GT drivers in the world.
• TWITTER: Follow the AF Waltrip team’s fortunes on twitter at @mwrteam
NAME: Clint Bowyer
HOMETOWN: Emporia, KS
RESIDENCE: Clemmons, NC
NAME: Michael Waltrip
HOMETOWN: Owensboro, KY
RESIDENCE: Huntersville, NC