Star-studded lineup highlights 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona

John Harrelson

Over the last few years the Rolex 24 at Daytona has become a de facto all-star race of sorts with drivers from a variety of series signing on to compete in the prestigious sports car event.

This year is no exception, as plenty of prominent drivers continue to submit entries for the around-the-clock race held at Daytona International Speedway.

From the NASCAR ranks, Michael Waltrip Racing owners Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip have filed an entry to run a Ferrari 458 GT. The two co-owners of MWR will be bringing along with them MWR driver Clint Bowyer, who is coming off a Sprint Cup Series season where he won three races and finished second in points.

This will be Bowyer's first foray into sports car racing and one that he isn't sure he's quite ready for.

"I'm not really sure what I got myself into," Bowyer said in a statement. "Rob asked me to race and I said I would do it. Everyone has told me how much fun this race is. So, I'm ready. Running 24 hours is a long time, but we will give it our best shot."

Bowyer and Waltrip won't be the only Cup drivers taking to the 3.56-mile road course as they will be joined by Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, who will racing a pair of cars from the Chip Ganassi stable. Montoya is a two-time Rolex 24 winner, having gone to Victory Lane in 2006 and '07 in a Ganassi-owned Lexus.

But NASCAR isn't the only series well represented as there are a plethora of IndyCar drivers preparing for what is considered North America's No. 1 endurance race.

Most prominent is defending Izod IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has joined Wayne Taylor Racing and will drive the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara in the Daytona Prototype (DP) class. In this race last year, Hunter-Reay finished 10th overall.

Hunter-Reay will be joined on the track by fellow IndyCar drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon. Not only are both drivers former IndyCar champions and Indianapolis 500 winners, but they have also been victorious in this race.

Franchitti and Dixon will be racing for the powerhouse Ganassi team, which includes Montoya and McMurray; four-time Daytona winner Scott Pruett; two-time Daytona winner Memo Rojas; IndyCar pilot Charlie Kimball; and Joey Hand, who is not only an overall winner at Daytona, but a class winner in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

"When you make it to Victory Lane in this race, you know that you have accomplished something really special," Ganassi said in a statement. "In addition, it is not often when we can bring such a diverse group of drivers from NASCAR, Indycar, GRAND-AM and ALMS (American Le Mans Series) together to compete in one race. It is a great kick off to our racing season."

Other notable IndyCar drivers on the Rolex 24 entry list include Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello and Paul Tracy. Kanaan and Barrichello will be teaming up to run a Porsche GT3 in the GT class. This will be Kanaan's first start at Daytona since 1998, while Barrichello will be competing for the first time in the Rolex 24.

In addition to the above names, other drivers of note include Sebastien Bourdais, Christian Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet Jr., Colin Braun, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Scott Sharp, Max Papis and James Hinchcliffe.

The Rolex 24 at Daytona will be held Jan. 26-27 and will air live on Speed.

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