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Two Races, 106 Cars: GRAND-AM Rolls Into Birmingham With Serious Momentum

The Porsche 250 for the Rolex Sports Car Series is set for Saturday, March 31 at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo by Grand-AmStock-car country will get a taste of close-quarters sports-car competition Saturday.

Nose-to-tail, door-to-door action will be more or less unavoidable. GRAND-AM's two races set for Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. have a total of 106 cars entered, including a track-record 78 for the Barber 200, the second race of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season. Another 28 cars are entered in the headlining Rolex Series event, the Porsche 250.

Collectively, this will amount to a 24 percent increase in car count compared to last year's Barber weekend, with the CTSCC the big reason why. Huge fields, though, are standard fare in the popular production-based series. The CTSCC averaged an incredible 60 cars last season, boasting these bookends: 72 entries for the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, 71 for the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The record field for a CTSCC event at Barber was 68 cars in 2006. The 2.3-mile road course - located just an hour away from legendary Talladega Superspeedway - is a perfect match for the organized mayhem created by the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes. To borrow a Talladega page, it's all about pure pack racing, albeit with both left and right turns.

"We have some unbelievably talented drivers in the CTSCC but you have to say the cars are indeed the stars as well - because of the sheer numbers that roll into the paddock at every event," said GRAND-AM Managing Director of Racing Operations Mark Raffauf.

"The racing is great and the fans love it, in large part because they're watching the same types of cars they see on the street. Fans can really identify with the CTSCC. It's like a 120-mph traffic jam. The competition is close ... and the competition is fierce."

The trend in CTSCC entries is expected to continue throughout the 10-race season. There were 81 cars in the season-opening race at Daytona. The early response from competitors for the inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27 calls for the largest field in series history, with more than 100 entries expected.

APR Motorsports - GRAND-AM's only Alabama-based (Opelika) team - looks to put on a strong showing for the home crowd with a seven-car contingent including six in the CTSCC race: one Audi in GS and five Volkswagens in Street Tuner.

Starworks Motorsports, which had a runner-up overall finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, is bringing six cars: two Daytona Prototypes for the Rolex Series run and another four Ford Mustangs for the CTSCC.

Other teams fielding four cars in the Barber 200 include Multimatic Motorsports, Mitchum Motorsports, Compass360 Racing and RSR Motorsports.

The Porsche 250 starts at 1:15 p.m. ET Saturday (SPEED, same day broadcast at 4 p.m. ET, MRN Radio live). The Barber 200 is set for 5 p.m. ET (SPEED, April 8 at noon ET). Fans can follow live timing and scoring at www.GRAND-AM.com, as well as live updates from the GRAND-AM Facebook page or Twitter @RolexSeries and @CT_Challenge accounts. Official Twitter event hashtags are: #Porsche250 and #GAonSPEED.

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