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Collins, Pilgrim-
 Loving Life With The Earnhardts During Rolex 24 At Daytona Testing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.., (Jan. 6, 2000) – Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim haven’t seen too many teammates with the credentials like Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt is a seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and the winningest driver at Daytona International Speedway with 34 victories, including the 1998 Daytona 500.

His son, Earnhardt Jr., is a rising Winston Cup star and a two﷓time NASCAR Busch Grand National Series champion.

Team Corvette drivers Collins and Pilgrim will happily share the driver’s seat of the No. 3 Goodwrench Service Plus Corvette C5﷓R with the Earnhardt family in the Feb. 3-4 Rolex 24 At Daytona and both sportscar aces are thrilled with the once﷓in﷓a﷓lifetime opportunity.

“Driving with the Earnhardts, somewhere down the line when I’m retired, I’ll be able to say I drove with those guys at Daytona,” said Collins, who was part of the winning team in the GTS class of the 1999 Rolex 24 At Daytona. “To me, that’s rocking chair equity.”

“They’re cool guys.” Pilgrim is equally thrilled with his teammates. “It’s very cool,” Pilgrim said. “It’s hard to put it into easy terms. I’ve road raced my whole life. I was born in England, but I’m now a U.S. citizen. I’ve been here 20 years. I knew about Dale Earnhardt before I came to the states. He’s a legend. There’s no two ways about it. The guy’s achieved legend status for what he has done.”

Earnhardt and Earnhardt Jr. have had twinkles in their eyes throughout the weekend. “They’re very excited,” Collins said. “Dale Sr. seems more excited than the kid when he gets out of the car. Junior is serious and very focused.”

The Earnhardts have asked plenty of questions throughout the testing and Collins and Pilgrim have been spilling out information.

“Dale and Dale Jr. are both being extremely attentive. They’re asking a tremendous amount of questions. Their philosophy is assume nothing. We’re just talking to them about everything.”

Earnhardts To Have Competition From Kyle Petty In Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 5, 2000) – Winston Cup veteran Kyle Petty is following the lead of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. by taking a vacation from his stock car duties to compete in the Feb. 3-4 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener to the Grand American Road Racing Series.

Petty will drive the No. 43 Porsche GT3RS fielded by Orbit Racing. Among Petty’s co-drivers will be Leo Hindery and Peter Baron.

Petty is the third Winston Cup driver entered in the 39th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R with co-drivers Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim.

Another Winston Cup driver, Steve Park, was also at Daytona testing a Chevrolet Corvette for MTI Racing and looking at the possibility of competing in the Super Brand Sports Class of the Motorola Cup, a support race to the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Petty during a break in the second day of a three-day Rolex 24 At Daytona test session. “We’re really working hard at Petty Enterprises to put together our Dodge program and to get everything done. With Buckshot (Jones) coming on board and with John (Andretti) and myself with the Sprint car moving that 45 team to Winston Cup, it’s been a long hard five or six months.

“I look at this like a vacation. It’s an opportunity to come down here and have fun and enjoy myself. That’s what I’ve done today.”

Last year, Petty and his father Richard and his late son Adam were working on a deal to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona driving one of the Team Oreca Vipers, but ran out of time to complete the package.

Petty put together this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona deal a couple of weeks ago over breakfast in San Francisco with Hindery, who has been involved in the past with the Richard Petty Driving Experience and is the former CEO of Time Warner.

“Leo said he was coming down here to do this,” Petty said. “He said, ‘You want to do it.’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.’ I thought he was joking. He called me back a couple of days later and he said if you want to do it, we’ll do it and I said, ‘I’m all over it.’ ”

This is not Petty’s first Rolex 24 At Daytona venture. In 1986, he competed in North America’s most prestigious race when he co-drove a Ford Mustang for Roush Racing with fellow Winston Cup drivers Bill Elliott, Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader.

“We broke about six or seven hours in,” said Petty, whose only victory at the “World Center of Racing” came in the 1979 ARCA 200.


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