GRAND AM Notes: Ganassi Humble In Victory

0
6
ALL-STAR CAST: (From right) Scott Pruett, Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal, Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray — along with Scott Dixon and Joey Hand — combined to give team owner Chip Ganassi a one-two finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona Sunday. (Grand Am Photo)
ALL-STAR CAST: (From right) Scott Pruett, Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal, Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray — along with Scott Dixon and Joey Hand — combined to give team owner Chip Ganassi a one-two finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona Sunday. (Grand Am Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After his team won the Rolex 24, completing a 12-month stretch where it posted victories in the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and the Rolex, Chip Ganassi refused to take credit for the winning streak.

“I don’t drive the cars. I don’t change the tires. I don’t work on the engines,” Ganassi said. “There are lots of people, lots of great competitors that it takes to make up a team, and I’m just the guy that gets to stand up there and talk about it.”

– The much anticipated return of a competitive Ferrari to the Rolex 24 under the management of former Jaguar boss Tony Dowe never got farther than the garage area. The red No. 00 unloaded and passed inspection, but never got on the track. It was withdrawn, with various stories making the rounds, all coming back to money.

Two Ferraris started. Neither was competitive, although both were running at the finish.

– The Porsche Riley of Flying Lizard Motorsports which Jorg Bergmeister qualified for the Rolex 24 pole, was the 2009 winning chassis, leased from Brumos Racing, with a new flat-six engine. After a long garage session to replace the radiator Saturday evening, the team worked from the tail of the field to 11th before a broken oil fitting started a small fire with 90 minutes to go, ending the team’s first Daytona Prototype effort.

– While Porsche failed to win its third-straight overall Rolex 24 crown, TRG Motorsports took the GT laurels with its Porsche GT3. It marked Porsche’s 73rd class victory at Daytona, and the 39th for the 911 model. Andy Lally earned his third class title, while co-drivers Wolf Henzler and Spencer Pumpelly won for the second time.

– Quick clean up of debris strewn by the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Coyote when it cut a right-rear tire in the closing minutes allowed a one-lap green-flag finish, which didn’t affect the results significantly. Friday’s Continental Tire Challenge, which was shaping up for a last-lap shootout, ended under caution.

n The Ganassi Racing No. 01 has now finished every lap of the last five Rolex 24 races, a remarkable record of consistency that includes three victories and two second-place efforts.

– Whether it resulted from the heavily promoted NASCAR and IndyCar talent in the field, the excellent weather except for the Sunday morning fog, or some other combination of positive factors, the Rolex 24 drew a huge crowd. Both tent and motorhome camping areas were jammed, and at 8 p.m. Saturday night the traffic flow remained inbound.

– Jim Downing drove in the Rolex 24 for the first time since 2002. The former champion of the Camel GTU and Lights series and co-developer of the HANS device finished 34th driving a Mazda, naturally.

– The Gainsco Racing operation with drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmie Johnson faced one problem after another during their twice-around-the-clock journey. Still, the team salvaged a 12th-place finish.

“We just had chronic brake problems, which required the crew to make a bunch of adjustments and repairs during the race,” Fogarty said. “We did it and got some well-placed points. Our pace was probably the best it’s been in several years, so we’re pleased about that, but we would have liked to show it a little more.”

– The Dempsey Racing Mazda with team owner Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Tom Long and Charles Espenlaub sharing the wheel led a good share of the GT portion of the race and finished third in class.

“I think it’s important for our development as a team,” Dempsey said. “The sacrifices Joe has done personally and professionally to get us here; and [engineer] Kirt [Wightman], our team, they have worked so hard the last few months without the kind of funding that other teams have.”