Daytona 24 Hour

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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, JAN. 29 — When the checkered flag fell at the Watkins Glen Six Hours last August, Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing drivers James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace laughed and smiled on the top step of the podium, and with good reason. The three drivers had just convincingly won the inaugural Grand-Am drivers title for Weaver and helped Dyson claim its third team championship in four years. Mission accomplished.

This weekend, the Anglo-American trio hopes to resume their winning ways together at the Rolex 24 Hours, where Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing arrives as one of the favorites for victory. The team won the 1997 and 1999 races outright and claimed a SportsRacer class win in last year`s Daytona enduro, in addition to winning the Paul Revere 250 there last July. In January`s pre-race testing, all three drivers were pleased with the team`s progress. Weaver set the second-fastest time of the test in the team`s #16 Riley and Scott Ford and worked primarily on setup for the race.

Leitzinger, a three-time Rolex winner who is returning to the team on a full-time basis in 2001, is very enthusiastic about the #16 car`s prospects: “I am more confident than I have ever been going into this race. Lozano Brothers have worked hard on the engine and have come up with a solution that should be more reliable than anything we have had in the past. And of course knows the car backwards and forwards, so I am very optimistic on the reliability. Add to that the fact that I am teamed with James Weaver and Andy Wallace, and the result is that I think we have the strongest team out there.”

All three drivers have taken part in at least two of the team`s victories at Daytona. In 1997, after their #16 car retired with engine problems, Weaver, Leitzinger, and Wallace switched their services over to the team`s sister #20 car and became winning players in what the team affectionately dubbed “the Magnificent Seven.” Wallace and Leitzinger co-drove with Elliott Forbes-Robinson in 1999 and won after a race-long battle in the wet; Weaver spearheaded the team`s 2000 class victory.

The February 3-4 race will be televised live in its entirety on the Speedvision network.

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