Ten years after his grandfather and uncle scored a podium finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, fourth-generation driver Jeffrey Earnhardt will make his debut in America's premier sports car race.
The race will mark the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. co-driving in the Rolex 24, when they finished fourth overall and second in the GTS class in a Corvette. The 21-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Kerry Earnhardt, Jeffrey Earnhardt plans to drive for Rick Ware Racing in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
Earnhardt finished fifth in the NASCAR K&N Series East in 2007 and has since run a progressive schedule. He has two starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and four in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, he has one pole position, nine top fives and 13 top 10s in 25 races.
The trio will be joined by two additional NASCAR drivers in the Fuel Doctor Porsche GT3. The car, raced by O'Connell in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competition, was unveiled at the recent SEMA show in Las Vegas.
Dave Mitchell, Vice President of Rick Ware Racing, said the team hopes to field a second car for the Rolex 24, to be driven by drivers with GRAND-AM backgrounds.
"Road racing is in Rick's roots," Mitchell said of the team owner. "He raced in the SCCA in the 1980s, and ran in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway. The Rolex 24 has been on our team's radar screen the past few years. It's a race we've always wanted to do."
Ware has fielded cars in a number of NASCAR series, ranging from the national touring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to regional touring divisions including in the Whelen Modified Series and both the K&N East and West series.
Barrett also has family roots in the Rolex 24. His father, NASCAR veteran Stan Barrett, raced in the 1996 edition of the Rolex 24. His godfather, legendary actor Paul Newman, won the GTS-1 class and finished third overall in the 1995 event. Barrett has experience in NASCAR's three national series, in addition to racing one season in IndyCar. His best finish in 184 NASCAR Nationwide Series races was fifth at Atlanta in 1996.
O'Connell finished 10th in the GT class in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona, driving the O'Connell Racing Porsche. He took four top 10 GT finishes in six races co-driving with Kevin Roush in 2008, including a fifth at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. He also competed in several NASCAR series, including a pair of races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.