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Published Jan. 30, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH - Not even cloudy skies or light rain could dampen Ryan Dalziel's mood.

The Windermere resident was taking part in Friday's Grand Am BMW Performance 200 race at Daytona International Speedway with his teammate, Enzo Potolicchio. Dalziel's brother John was several spots down pit road with Potolicchio's brother Miguel.

"It's the younger brothers versus the older brothers," Ryan Dalziel said with a laugh.

The 29-year-old has had a lot to enjoy this week. On Thursday, he took the pole for this weekend's 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a lap time of 1 minute, 41:119 seconds.

"It's amazing, obviously," Dalziel said, noting the accomplishment occurred in a brand new car. "We've come here many years and come close to the pole and won it one time before, but it's always special to get it on the 50th anniversary."

"It makes it a little more sweet for us."

Dalziel, along with Starworks Motorsports teammates Alex Popow, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish and Potolicchio, start today in the top spot in the No.8 Ford Riley Daytona Prototype car for the 24-hour endurance race.

The green flag drops at 3:30 with the checked flag 24 hours later. The 3.56-mile road race can be seen on Speed Channel.

"For me, it would be huge," Dalziel said when asked how big a win this weekend would be. "This is as close as I get to a home race these days."

"Also, the team is based in Florida, so it's a home away from home for all of us, and I think to win on the 50th anniversary with the new body work would be special," Dalziel added.

Last year, Scott Pruett captured his fourth title as Chip Ganassi Racing teams took first and second place. Pruett, 51, is looking to join Hurley Haywood as the only drivers to win five Daytona 24-hour championships.

The Ganassi teams are heavily favored to win again this year, with the No.02 BMW Riley car led by Scott Dixon starting third. He will be joined by Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, and Jamie McMurray.

"When they talk about the big races in this country, this is certainly the sports car race you want to be at. The one you want to win," owner Ganassi said. "And that's what we are here to do."

There are 59 cars entered in this year's race - 14 DP class and 45 Grand Touring - 10 more than last year. Several big name superstars are taking part including actor Patrick Dempsey and AC/DC singer Brian Johnson. In addition to Montoya and McMurray, drivers representing NASACAR include A.J. Allmendinger, and Michael Waltrip, who is making his first Rolex 24 start.

NOTABLE: A.J. Foyt, who had been set to be the grand marshal, is hospitalized in Houston for complications from knee surgery and will miss the race. Foyt, 77, had surgery two weeks ago. ... IndyCar driver Justin Wilson is entered for his first race since breaking his back in a race last summer at Mid-Ohio. He's driving for Michael Shank Racing, the same team as Allmendinger.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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Rolex 24 at Daytona

When: Starts at 3:30 today, ends Sunday

Where: Daytona International Speedway

TV: 3:30-11 p.m. today, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Speed Channel