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November 10th, 2010
Jeffrey Earnhardt (left) stands with his father Kerry Earnhardt at Texas Motor Speedway in 2009. (HHP/Erik Perel Photo)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Earnhardt name will return to the Rolex 24 next year as Jeffrey Earnhardt, son of Kerry Earnhardt and grandson of Dale Earnhardt, makes his Grand Am Rolex Series debut at Daytona Int’l Speedway Jan. 29-30.
Earnhardt, Stanton Barrett and Kevin O’Connell will team together to drive a Porsche fielded by Rick Ware Racing in the annual 24-hour event. The race marks the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s co-drive in the Rolex 24 when they finished fourth overall and second in the GTS class in a Corvette.
The younger Earnhardt finished fifth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings in 2007 and has since made limited starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Earnhardt, Barrett and O’Connell will be joined by two other NASCAR drivers that will be announced later in the Fuel Doctor Posche GT3 during the Rolex 24.
“Road racing is in Rick’s roots,” said Rick Ware Racing vice president Dave Mitchell. “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.”
Mitchell said the team hopes to field a second car for the Rolex 24 that would be driven by drivers with Grand Am backgrounds.
Barrett, a veteran of 206 starts in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide divisions, 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.
O’Connell finished 10th in the GT class in the 2007 Rolex 24 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 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l.