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Big names overshadowed

By wire services
Published January 29, 2006

DAYTONA BEACH - In a race filled with big-name drivers, little-known sportscar racer Darren Law took the spotlight Saturday in the early stages of the Rolex 24 endurance race.

Law, driving a Porsche Fabcar Daytona Prototype, caught and passed a Ford Crawford driven by Alex Barron to grab the lead early in the sixth hour.

Moments later, Barron spun and bounced off a wall in the infield section of the 3.56-mile, 14-turn road circuit at Daytona International Speedway.

The car co-driven by Law, David Donohue - son of the late Indianapolis 500 winner Mark Donohue - and Sascha Maassen, started 29th in the 66-car field, but moved into contention in the fourth hour and chased down the leader.

"We still have so far to go," Law said. "More than anything, I was just in accident-avoidance mode. I was being very careful, there's a lot of crazy stuff out there."

Law, 37, a native of Toronto, was fourth in the Daytona Prototype standings in 2003 and was the GT series champion in 2001.

Reigning IRL and Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon, a St. Petersburg resident, was contending early in a Lexus Riley co-driven by former IRL champ Scott Dixon and NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Casey Mears.

Retired NASCAR star Rusty Wallace and IRL rookie of the year Danica Patrick were joined by former Formula One drivers Allan McNish and Jan Lammers in a Pontiac Crawford.

Wallace and Patrick, both newcomers to sports car racing, were having a great time.

"This is all new to me and we had a problem with the radio," Wallace said. "Our gearing wasn't right either, but the most aggravating thing was not being able to communicate with the pits.

"Still, it went pretty well and it was pretty much fun."

Patrick, the only woman to lead the Indy 500, was wowed by the intensity of the racing.

"It's awesome, but that traffic is incredible," she said. "You're just passing cars all the time."

NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart was sharing duties in another Pontiac Crawford with veteran road racers and three-time Rolex winners Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace of England.

Defending champions Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard were out of the race after crashing during the fifth hour. Collard was driving the Pontiac Riley when one of the 400-horsepower GT class cars spun in front of him and collected the contender.

NASCAR suit on

A federal judge ordered late Friday that Kentucky Speedway can move ahead with its $400-million antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR. U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman rejected NASCAR's motions to dismiss the case. The case alleges that NASCAR conspired with International Speedway to decide which tracks should be host to coveted Nextel Cup races. Kentucky Speedway, based in Sparta about halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati, was left out, despite better amenities than many of the sites.

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