rolex24The 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona takes place this coming weekend, once again pitting top drivers and teams against one of the toughest challenges in endurance motor sport. The 24-hour race at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, January 26. When the green flag drops, 59 cars are expected to cross the start line. This event officially starts the Daytona Speedweeks.

Grid positions for the race will be determined on Thursday. Official race practice sessions take place in the morning and early afternoon, before qualifying begins at 3::40 p.m. for the Daytona Prototypes (DP) and at 4:10 for the GT and GX classes. A night practice session then gets underway at 6 p.m. just after sunset. The final practice opportunity is on Friday morning.

During the three days of testing at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month, several markers were laid down. Defending champion in the DP class, Michael Shank Racing #60, set the fastest lap time of 1:42.918 (an average speed of 124.526 mph) on the first day of testing with one of the team’s 2012 winning drivers, Anthony ‘AJ’ Allmendinger, at the wheel. Then, on the third day, Michael Valiante, driving the team’s second car #6, set the fastest lap for the entire weekend with a time of 1:42.058 (125.576 mph).

The fastest overall times in the GT and GX classes were set on day two of testing. In the GT class, Patrick Long turned in a lap average of 118.045 mph in the Park Place Motorsports #73, while Shane Lewis in the Napleton Racing #16 was the fastest of the new GX class with a lap average of 110.324 mph.

On Saturday afternoon these statistics will be consigned the archives as the real test is set in motion.

Familiar NASCAR names such as Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip along with Rui Aguias of Portugal will team up to race a GT Class Ferrari. Also with that NASCAR connection, there’s A.J. Almendinger a winner last year, and Marcos Ambrose will also be among the large number of entries in that 24 hour race held on the Daytona infield road course.

Fall-Line Motorsports enters the first of eleven rounds in the 2013 Grand-Am Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) this weekend at Daytona International Raceway. There is a single mission in mind for the team and their three BMW M3s: improve just one position from last year’s race result. This doesn’t seem like such a lofty goal except that the Fall-Line cars finished 2-3-4 at the 2012 event. A sweep of the podium in the GS class is the only way to top last year and the team knows they have the talent and determination to do it.

Team Manager Michael Harvey has been leading the Fall-Line camp for the past two seasons. “Fall-Line is very excited to be starting the 2013 season with the BMW Performance 200. We are very proud to bring some new partners in Trim-Tex & Beverage Flavors to the Grand Am paddock along with a new to Fall-Line driver, Brett Sandberg. The whole Fall-Line crew has worked tirelessly over the winter and we look forward to bringing BMW back to the winners circle.”

Back again for their 3rd season with Fall-Line and driving the #45 Eagle/B+Positive Racing BMW M3 are Al Carter and Hugh Plumb. The pair has been racing together for four years and are pulling double-duty, competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona following the CTSCC race.

The #46 TRIM-TEX/ BCKSTGR entry will be once again piloted by team owner, Mark Boden and second year Fall-Line veteran, Bryan Sellers. The pair finished 3rd last year after both drove impressive opening stints throughout the 200-mile race.

The #48 car will be driven by a driver who is a newcomer to the team and a driver who is a longtime member of the Fall-Line family. Brett Sandberg joins Charles Espenlaub in the #48 for Daytona after a successful pre-season test. The car will be carrying sponsorship from Beverage Flavors International.

Green flag for the BMW Performance 200 is at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, January 25 and live timing and scoring can be followed at www.grand-am.com.

Rolex has been a partner of the Daytona International Speedway since its earliest beginnings, and title sponsor of the Rolex 24 at Daytona since 1992.

The Speed Channel will offer extensive coverage of that twice around the clock event.

Information for the story came from carracing.com, Fall Line Motorsports, NASCAR and personal notes.