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Retired champ Pruett to serve as grand marshal at Rolex 24

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Retired sports car champion Scott Pruett will serve as grand marshal for the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month.

Pruett will give the command for drivers to start their engines before the start of the prestigious endurance race on Jan. 26.

The 58-year-old Pruett retired from competition following the 2018 Rolex 24, walking away as IMSA’s all-time leader with 60 wins and second in series championships with nine. He notched five Rolex 24 overall victories, a record he shares with Hurley Haywood. Pruett also holds the record for Rolex 24 class victories with 10.

Pruett, who was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2017, says “it’s impossible for me to sum up, in just a few words, how honored I am to be chosen as grand marshal.”

The 57th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be the first Pruett has missed since 2003. He drove in all but six endurance races at Daytona between 1985 and 2017.

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INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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