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Pruett's DP team starting on pole

Rolex 24 veteran Scott Pruett, who will share driving chores with Max Papis and Jimmy Morales in the Lexus Riley owned by Chip Ganassi Racing, was picked to run in qualifying Thursday and put the car on the pole for today's Rolex 24.

Despite a relatively short testing time in the Daytona Prototype car, Pruett found the car to be quite responsive and quick.

"If you had seen the car the way it got delivered to us back at Christmas you would have thought we'd be hard-pressed to get turned around here," said Pruett, whose 121.154 mph lap was more than 5 mph faster than last year's pole-sitter, David Donohue.

"When you roll (the car) off the truck, you're focused on how to make the car easier to drive for 24 hours. The setup we had was kind of a quick balance between trying to qualify and trying to go race. All in all, we're pleased."

The No. 2 spot in qualifying went to Wayne Taylor of Altamonte Springs and his co-drivers, Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard, at 120.797 mph.

Cars from the Daytona Prototpye class took up the first 15 spots on the grid. The fastest outside the race's premier class was the Porsche GT3 car, driven by Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman, Lonnie Pechnik, Peter Cunningham and Mike Rockenfeller in the GT class. The fastest car in the Super Grand Sport class was the Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Randy Pobst, Marc Bunting, Andy Lally, John Littlechild and Michael Levitas, 29th overall.

EARNHARDT REMEMBERS: Quite familiar with running the 2{-mile oval, NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will co-drive a Crawford-Chevrolet Daytona Prototype with fellow Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart and Andy Wallace, also knows the road racing skills needed to navigate Daytona Speedway's twisting 3.56-mile infield track.

Three years ago he co-drove a factory-backed Corvette with his late father, an experience he didn't soon forget.

"I had to drive in the rain and at night, and there was a few times I was luckier than I should have been," Earnhardt said. "Still, it was pretty fun."

The team qualified fourth for the 24-hour race.

TOPS IN PRACTICE: Stewart was the fastest in final practice, turning a lap in 1:49.422 at 117.125 mph. "I don't think they are going to give a trophy away or anything for being fastest in happy hour," he said.

ROLEX REGULAR: Thirteen former Rolex 24 winners will be at the helm in today's race, including five-time winner Hurley Haywood. Haywood, 55, who co-drove with Peter Gregg to his first Daytona victory 31 years ago in a Porsche 911, has the distinction of winning several other sports car endurance classics, including the Le Mans 24 Hours (three times) and the Sebring 12 Hours (twice). Haywood will co-drive the No. 59 Brumos Porsche-FABCAR Daytona Prototype with J.C. France, Scott Sharp and Tommy Riggins.

_ LOGAN NEILL

Rolex Sports Car Series

The 24 Hours of Daytona includes competition in three classes. Here's a look at the types of cars in each class:

DAYTONA PROTOTYPES

+ Eligible engines: BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Porsche, Lexus, Pontiac

+ Description: A flat-bottom, closed cockpit, mid-engine coupe built especially for racing.

+ Engines: Normally aspirated with restrictors to balance performance.

+ Top speed: 190 mph.

+ Average selling price: $350,000.

SUPER GRAND SPORT

+ Eligible models: Porsche, Supercup, Corvette 206, Saleen Mustang and Ferrari 360 challenge

+ Description: High end production or series produced sportscar models, weighing 2,600-3,000 pounds.

+ Engines: Vary by brand and model.

+ Top speed: 145-150 mph.

+ Average selling prices: $125,000.

GRAND TOURING

+ Eligible models: Porsche GT3 R, Ferrari 360, BMW M3, Chevrolet Corvette, Maserati and Mustang

+ Description: Factory built race cars that can weigh from 2,675 - 2,775 pounds. Turbocharging is not allowed.

+ Engines: Five- and six-speed transmission with 6.0L maximum displacement.

+ Top speed: 160 - 165 mph.

+ Average selling prices: $200,000.

Source: Grand American Road Racing

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