Ganassi team Rolex 24 postscript
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) became the first team in history to win three straight Rolex 24 at Daytona’s after Scott Pruett crossed the finish line in the No.01 TELMEX/Target Riley. Pruett, along with CGRFS NASCAR Sprint Cup teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti, and his Rolex Series full time co-driver Memo Rojas, combined to lead 252 of the race’s 695 laps in an event that featured Rolex Series and Rolex 24 records for car leaders (15), driver leaders (25) and lead changes (60). The two-time defending race champions stayed out of trouble, and more importantly the garage, to march to a two-lap victory.
- The win marks the 90th overall for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. since Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990.
- Franchitti becomes the first driver to ever capture the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Indianapolis 500, an open wheel title and the Rolex 24 At Daytona consecutively, accomplishing the feat in less than a year. Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt are the only others to win the four titles, but neither did so in succession.
- Pruett and Montoya’s back to back wins marked the first time drivers earned repeat victories in the race since 1986 and 1987 when Derek Bell, Al Unser, Jr. and Al Hulbert accomplished the feat. Montoya became the first driver in Rolex 24 history to win each of his first two starts in the 24-hour race.
- The No.01 never fell out of the top-five overall after the fifth hour of the race, and led the final 101 laps and three hours and 19 minutes.
- CGRFS led 1,257 laps, more than 60 percent of the laps, in the past three years. In the last two years, the team led 720 laps out of a possible 1363 (53%).
- Lexus becomes the first manufacturer to win three consecutive Rolex 24’s in more than 20 years when Porsche last registered the feat from 1985 to 1987.
The team’s second entry (No.02 Target/TELMEX Riley) with drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Alex Lloyd and Salvador Duran led 34 of the first 87 laps, dominated the early goings and recorded the overall fastest lap of the race. The team continued to run in the top-two into the fifth hour before changing weather conditions contributed to an off-track excursion with the car which led to substantial damage to the front end. The team re-joined the race 12 laps down, but could never climb higher than 11th and eventually retired early in 18th-place after an incident.
CHIP GANASSI – Team Owner - Along with co-owner Felix Sabates, became the first team owners in history to win three straight Rolex 24 at Daytona’s.
"I owe it all to my team and the drivers and the people that prepared the cars. I did absolutely nothing. They did it all. It's hard to put into words what winning does to you and what it feels like. You can't touch it, you can't feel it, but it sure does feel good. One thing a lot of people don't consider is the conditions that these guys had to drive in. They were just miserable. Particularly between three and six this morning. The track was very wet, your vision is limited. Just to keep these cars on the asphalt was a huge task, and I want to give credit where credit is due to the guys that drove in those conditions in Dario and Memo. They drove in the conditions that were the most horrific out there. Just to stay in the game under those conditions is a huge challenge.”
SCOTT PRUETT – United States (No.01 TELMEX/Target) - The victory added to Pruett's already all-time best eight class victories at the Rolex 24 and record 15th overall Rolex Series wins. It was his third overall in the Rolex 24 and gives him a record-setting eighth Rolex 24 class victory. (He earned previous class victories in 2007, 2002, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1988 and 1987. This is his third overall win after taking the checkered flag first in 1994 and 2007).
“It’s tough to pick a favorite Rolex 24 win but your last one is always your best. This one was tough. The conditions were pretty treacherous because it was rain, then it was dry, then it was a little bit of wet again. That makes for a really tough race. I can't say enough for all of the Ganassi guys. Just like last year, we had zero problems. There's just one little mark on the car. Otherwise it's totally clean. We didn't touch anybody, we didn't hit anybody. We could run fast without getting ourselves in trouble. I think it's awesome that we came back here for three in a row. "
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA – Colombia (No.01 TELMEX/Target) - Becomes the first driver in Rolex 24 history to win each of his first two starts in the 24-hour race.
"It's all about the win and the watches. Last year I felt we had a stronger car. That was a car that you thought, whatever happens, we were fast enough to win. This year, if it came down to it, I think it would have been a lot harder. I pushed really hard every stint that I was in the car to make sure that whichever car that was fast and tried to stay with us had to work as hard as well. In a way it worked, because other cars had problems."
“We pushed very hard. Every stint I was in the car, I pushed really hard. It's a good way to start the year. We all worked; we all did what we need to do. I thought we were in a really good position even before the No.6 had their problem because we had already pitted and we had a lot more fuel. We knew we could just follow them around and we'd be fine. The only thing was we were picking up a lot of dust from the other cars and the temperatures started to come up. Once the No.6 car had its problem, I just got on the gas. Once we came in for Scott to get in, we got all cleaned up and the temps came down and then we just rolled. When you have a five-lap lead, you just make sure you don't hit anything, you don't go over any curbs. "
DARIO FRANCHITTI – Scotland (No.01 TELMEX/Target) - Scored his first win at the Rolex 24, and has the distinction of becoming only the second driver to hold consecutive titles (Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Champion, Rolex 24 winner). The first to accomplish that was teammate Dan Wheldon in 2005. In the last 10 months, Franchitti has won the Sebring 12 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I just couldn't turn down an opportunity like this. This is a race I've watched for a very long time, so to win it means a lot to me. It's just been one hell of a year. But the preparation the team puts into these cars made this one possible."
MEMO ROJAS – Mexico (No.01 TELMEX/Target)
The victory is the first Rolex 24 for Memo Rojas and the second Rolex Series win for the 2007 Grand-Am Rookie of the Year.
“I'm very excited to be a part of this line-up. It was an honor to race with Scott, Juan and Dario. To win this race, it's something I'll never forget the rest of my life. The engine was great. Lexus has been developing this engine ever since Utah last year. We came to the test here with some issues, but Lexus went back to work immediately and you can see the result right here - a three-time Rolex 24-winning car. I'm just particularly happy to be a part of this with my first 24-hour win, and happy to be a part of this Lexus program and this victory."
SCOTT DIXON – New Zealand (No.02 Target/TELMEX)
“We led 33 laps and the car was pretty decent really. We really only drove it at 70 or 80% and it was handling really well but it just got a bit loose toward the final 10 laps of my stint, but no real problems. The traffic was the main thing and we actually had a pretty good run there and didn’t get slowed up too much. It’s been fun and we’re happy because the No.01 car got the win.”
DAN WHELDON – England (No.02 Target/TELMEX)
“It’s disappointing yes, but our teammates picked up the slack and I’m very proud of them for bringing home another win in this great event. I know how much it means to Chip and Felix because I had the privilege of being a part of the first one a few years back. Congratulations to the Ganassi team and Juan Pablo, Dario, Scott and Memo. It was a tremendous drive and they had zero problems over the course of the race. That’s exactly what it takes to win at Daytona.”
SALVADOR DURAN - Mexico (No.02 Target/TELMEX)
“I came out of the pits on fresh new tires for my first stint of the day and the team let me know that I would rejoin the pack in Turn 4. Out of Turn 3, the car was very slippery on cold tires. I was trying to scrub them a little bit before going into Turn 4 and I hit the brakes quite early to heat the tires. When I got to the middle of Turn 4 everyone was stopped and I tried to avoid contact by going to the right. I went quite slowly to the grass in second or third gear and I thought it was the safest thing to do as I didn’t really have anywhere to go. It was either hit the cars in front or go to the grass and I thought I could go through the grass and make it back onto the track without any trouble. But as soon as I hit the grass, the front of the car took the brunt of it. It was definitely my mistake.”
ALEX LLOYD - England (No.02 Target/TELMEX)
“It was going okay then we changed to new tires and the annoying thing was that I was being as cautious as I could be, coming out of the pits as slowly as I could, and the moment I touched the brakes and the car just turned on me and that was that as we touched the wall. We’ve had a few offs in the race and the car was pretty banged up. The last one was just the straw that broke the camel’s back really. Pretty disappointing because we were quick but too many things went wrong.”