Tag Archives: Scott Pruett

24 Hours at DAYTONA

Overall winners: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Overall winners: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

PASSION, DETERMINATION AND PREPARATION PAY DIVIDENDS

The 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona put on a tremendous finale, maintaining tension right up to the last. Pre-race favourites in the Daytona Prototype class, Chip Ganassi Racing’s #01 BMW/Riley, took the chequered flag as the Rolex timing hit the 24-hour mark. The script may appear pre-written, but such was the nature of the contest that Juan Pablo Montoya, driving the final stint, did not have an impregnable lead until the last five minutes, when he passed the #10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP on lap 706. In the GT class, the #24 Audi R8, of Audi Sport Customer Racing AJR, took the honours, and the GX class win went to the #16 Porsche Cayman of Napleton Racing.

The #01 drivers, Americans Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, along with team-mates Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Mexican Memo Rojas, were jubilant. Pruett’s fifth overall win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona puts him alongside Hurley Haywood in the record book. Haywood was one of the first to congratulate Pruett, who was predictably emotional: “It’s just an incredible day all the way around, winning with these guys, and then at the end of it to have Hurley there was a very special thing.”

Team principal, Chip Ganassi, celebrated his fifth overall win in ten starts at the Rolex 24 At Daytona: “I am very, very proud and especially because every single one of them has been with the same crew, same team. My hat is off to our guys in Indianapolis who put this car together. They are in charge of the preparation and worked very, very hard.”

In the GT class the battle was every bit as fierce, even if the outcome was decided some 40 minutes earlier when Felipe Albuquerque took a decisive lead by staying out on track while the #69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD pitted: “When they put me in the car, no one really believed we could win. We were one lap down with two and half hours to go. I just drove every lap like qualifying. I didn’t care about the car, about the tyres, about anything. I was flat out.” Co-driver, Dion von Moltke put Alburquerque’s drive in perspective: “Two hours ago we thought we were out. Felipe got in the car and put in one of the most amazing drives I have ever witnessed.”

For Napleton Racing, the GX win concluded a period of two and a half months of working 24/7 to be on the start line for the class’ debut at the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Driver David Donohue paid tribute: “For us it was a race of preparation. Our team did a superior job when this programme was conceived in building this car and making it reliable.” Co-driver Shane Lewis pointed to just how reliable they had been: “If it wasn’t for some pit-lane violations and a couple of minor on-track incidents we would have had the cleanest run that I think anybody has had at the Rolex 24 for a long time.”

The 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona will be held over the weekend of 25-26 January 2014.

Provisional Top Three in Class
Pos/Car no./Team/Car/Laps/Fastest Lap/Best Ave. Speed

Daytona Prototype
1/01/Chip Ganassi Racing/BMW Riley/709/1:41.327/126.482 (Overall Winner)
2/10/VelocityWW/Corvette/DP/709/1:42.024/125.618
3/60/Michael Shank Racing/Ford Riley/709/1:42.051/125.584

GT
1/24/Audi Sport Customer Racing AJR/Audi R8 GRAND-AM/678/1:48.336/118.299
2/52/Audi Sport Customer Racing APR/Audi R8 GRAND-AM/678/1.48.316/118.320
3/69/AIM Autosport Team FXDD/Ferrari 458/678/1:48.676/117.959

GX
1/16/Napleton Racing/Porsche Cayman/635/1.55.269/111.183
2/22/Bullet Racing/Porsche Cayman GX.R/625/1:59.331/107.399
3/38/BGB Motorsports/Porsche Cayman GX.R/614/1.55.916/110.563

24 Hours at DAYTONA

Porsche GT3

ROLEX 24 HOURS AT DAYTONA POLE POSITIONS.

In motorsports racing, every driver aims to win pole position whenever and wherever they race, bringing to mind the old adage “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”  With the completion of the qualifying sessions for the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona, three drivers can enjoy the knowledge (and bragging rights) associated with earning pole position for their class as just over 48 hours remains to prepare for the iconic endurance race which starts at 1530 EST on Saturday, 26 January 2013.

Posting a lap of 1:40.553 (127.455mph) during Daytona Prototype (DP) qualifying, American driver Scott Pruett will start from pole position in the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley.  “It was exciting to go out there and get it done,” said Pruett of his third career pole at the Rolex 24. Pruett, who comes into the race as the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champion, has won this race eight times in class and four times overall and is unconcerned that he is one away from tying Hurley Haywood’s record five wins of the twice-around-the-clock challenge.  “If it’s meant to be it is.  The good Lord’s blessed me with this incredible career.  I’m going on my 45th or 46th year of driving and I wake up every morning and pinch myself.  To come to a place like Daytona…I get goose bumps just being here.”

Starting from pole allows these drivers to avoid traffic, as well as the mistakes of other drivers. Cars approach turn one at close to 200 mph, and applying their brakes while downshifting into the corner on the first lap leads cars in mid-pack to crowd each other and even touch, causing one or both cars to spin out — obviously not an ideal way to begin a race.

Britain’s Nick Tandy, driving the #32 Konrad Motorsport/Orbit Porsche GT3 Cup car, won the GT pole with a time of 1:47.631 (119.074 mph).  “We went out later in the session in order to preserve tyres and brakes,” said Tandy of his team’s strategy.  “It is huge to have pole position because we won’t need to be chasing the race right from the start and in this way we don’t stress the car, the tyres and the brakes.  At the Rolex 24 At Daytona every single lap you have to be on, so having a little less pressure from the start by being on pole is huge.”

As he was at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month, Florida resident Shane Lewis was fastest in GX with a lap of 1:54.606 (111.827 mph) at the wheel of the #16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman.  He becomes the first-ever pole winner in the class which debuts at this race.

“I ran faster in practice than I did in qualifying because I couldn’t find anyone to draft with,” said Lewis who is marking his 16th time racing the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  “Daytona is a very special place.  To start on the pole when thousands of fans are going to be here is very special.”

Grand Am Series

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – As billed, the first endurance race since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona last January, the 2012 edition of Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, delivered highly-anticipated tight competition as 11 Daytona Prototypes (DP) and 21 Grand Touring (GT) cars took on the 3.4 mile road course at Watkins Glen International.  At 1100 feet elevation, the historic track offered fans panoramic views of the valley and Lake Seneca, and, on this day, a cooling breeze to offset the temperature that climbed into the high 80s as the afternoon of racing progressed.  On the track, both the temperatures and the action made it challenging for teams to keep the cars running and the drivers cool.

Also contributing to driver fatigue was the very fast pace of the race.  Between hour one and hour five, the race was green for three hours and 25 minutes before a full course yellow was brought out when the #73 Horton Autosport Porsche GT3 Cup spun into a sand trap and had to be removed. 

DP pole sitter Scott Pruett (Auburn, Calif.), driving the #01 BMW Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, looked to be in good form as he led for the first 15 laps of the race.  Ultimately, the need to change the radiator and a pit stop miscommunication dropped him down to eighth, which opened the door for the #9 Action Express Racing Corvette driven by Joao Barbosa (Porto, Portugal), with co-driver Darren Law (Phoenix, Arizona), that started third on the grid.

“This was a great race,” said Barbosa after winning the race.  “The Corvette was awesome and the team did a really good job giving us a very competitive car to drive all the way to the end.  I was lucky to use traffic to my advantage as I chased down the #99 car.  After following him for many laps and not able to get by I suddenly saw an opportunity with traffic and I made my move and got by to take the lead.  The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports car Series is such a competitive series that you have to use everything you can to take an advantage and make your move to take a position.  The car worked really well and the Continental tires were so consistent during all the stints I was able to bring it home after that.  I am really pleased with our win.”

Law also had compliments for the team behind the car.  “We knew we had a good car right from the first session,” said Law.  “Actually we’ve had a good car most weekends and it sure feels good to be back up here on the top step of the podium.  I wasn’t in the car when we got past the #99 car but I want to thank Alex (Gurney) for racing clean.  It’s super competitive out there so it isn’t always the case that the car you are about to pass will race clean so I thank you Alex.  I think the championship is still wide open, there are several races yet to go so we keep pushing ahead.  This win is an important one for the series, but it is an important one in general because it’s a famous race with a lot of history so it’s great to be up here.”

The race dates from 1948; since 2000 the six hour endurance classic has been part of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and it has been sponsored by Sahlen’s since 2002.

Although the #75 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R started in pole position with Jordan Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) at the wheel, midway through the race the team dropped out of the lead.  A close contest ensued between the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R and the #94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.

“It was a pretty tough race,” said Robin Liddell (Newbury, England), who, with John Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio), prevailed to take the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R to the top of the podium just edging out Bill Auberlen (Redondo Beach, Calif.) in the #94 car by 1.340 seconds.  “This is probably the best track for our Camaro over the course of a season and fortunately we have two races here each year which is a big help.  We had a strong car all weekend with good balance, but we did have two tire blowouts this weekend during practice and qualifying so that had us pretty nervous about the same kind of thing happening during the race.  The crew made a few adjustments so we felt pretty confident that we would be alright.  Unfortunately we got a stop-and-go penalty after a restart which I thought was a bit questionable on the part of the tower.  We managed to fight our way back up through the field after that and worked the car very hard to get the car back up to fourth or fifth when John took over.  He did a great job hanging on and gaining more positions and trying to hand over to me a decent car to take to the end of the race.  It was a great job by the team running our two cars which was a big task but they did it brilliantly.”

As the race wound down to its final moments, Liddell had only half a gallon of fuel left in the tank.  “Rob did an incredible job keeping the car up front in the beginning,” said Edwards.  “It was too bad we got that stop-and-go, which I don’t think we deserved, but Rob just put his head down and came back from that and kept moving up in positions so when I got in the car I could try to save some fuel and ended up bringing the car back in the lead and also very close to where we needed to be on fuel.  It was the first time I have ever seen a GRAND-AM Rolex Series race go so long without a caution period so I figured I would either bring the car in with the lead or run out of fuel out on the course.”

For Liddell and Edwards it was their first season win in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, a victory which also moved the team into the lead of the inaugural GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship. 

To win the North American Endurance Championship, drivers are accruing points at three races in 2012:  the 50th Anniversary edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona (held this past January), Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen (July 1) and at GRAND-AM’s debut race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Super Weekend at the Brickyard on July 27.  The GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship will be awarded at the conclusion of that 2 hour and 45 minute race which starts at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: old boone

AJ Allmendinger outlasted a late push to help propel himself and his Michael Shank Racing teammates to Victory Lane as the 31-year-old captured the title at the Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 60 Ford Riley lead most of the race and outlasted the No. 8 Ford Riley of Starworks Motorsports driven by Ryan Danziel to capture its first Rolex 24 championship and the team’s fourth Rolex Series DP title.

Another Michael Shank Racing team entry, the No. 6 Ford Riley driven by Felipe Nasr, finished third.

Dalziel started the race Saturday on the pole but the Orlando resident couldn’t overcome the No. 60 Ford Riley down the stretch but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Dalziel and Allmendinger fought side by side, nearly taking each other out at several times during the final hour of the race.

It was a tough day for Chip Ganassi Racing which was looking to make it, back-to-back titles.

The No. 01 BMW Riley car driven by Scott Pruett had been battling with Allmendinger and Ryan Dalziel most of the race but a gear box issue on pit row with a little over an hour left in the race caused the 51-year-old Pruett to lose several gears that inevitably ended up costing the team a penalty for speeding on pit row.

After the penalty, the Ganassi team replaced the gear box, which pushed the No. 01 car to sixth place finish.

Pruett was looking for his fifth Rolex 24 at Daytona title which would have tied him with Hurley Haywood for the record

Motorsports Mondial

Ganassi takes Daytona Glory!

With 23 hours logged at the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona it would be natural to assume the drivers would be looking to preserve their equipment in order to make it to the finish, but here at Daytona International Speedway it is the exact opposite.  With four DP cars in the hunt for victory, and only one hour left to race, anything can happen as the contenders fight through traffic in pursuit of the lead, occasionally swapping paint while doing so.  The fight intensifies as time runs out and it becomes do-or-die for the front runners.

Among the 18 DP entries, the #02 Telmex/Target BMW Riley had set the pace and led the race since 12:50 pm.  Giving chase was the #9 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley followed closely by the #01 Target/Telmex BMW Riley, with the #23 United Autosports car also in contention.

“Before I got in the car I discussed what might be our best options,” said Scott Pruett (Sacramento/Auburn, Calif.) of his last stint in the #01 car.  “We knew we had a strong car but you cannot really over think things, you just have to get in the car and go as fast as you can.  All we did as drivers is keep that car as clean as possible.  If you look at it now you will see an immaculate race car even after racing for 24 hours, that’s what it takes to win.”

“This is the big race of the year and everyone comes here to win,” said Pruett having just become a four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner (1994, ’07, ’08, ‘11).  “We had the lead toward the end and all we had to do is run smart.  Our car is very fast coming off a yellow-to-green flag.  I was glad that Grand-Am was able to go to green at the end.  I hate when a race finishes under yellow, it’s just a big disappointment for the fans.  I pushed as hard as I could on that last lap.  It takes a team effort and the team starts off by our boss Chip Ganassi and of course the mechanics.  There is so much effort and energy given before we even come here.  The #01 car has finished every lap at the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the last five years so that gives a true testimony for what the Ganassi organization is all about.”

Sharing the driving duty in the winning #01 car was Memo Rojas (Mexico City, Mexico), Graham Rahal (Columbus, Ohio/Indianapolis, In.) and Joey Hand (Sacramento, Calif.).  Rahal was eight years old when his father, Bobby Rahal, won the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona.  “I grew up looking at Dad’s Rolex and trying to imagine having one of my own.  I never imagined I would have one so soon.”

Capturing the attention of all in attendance was the remarkable come-from-behind performance in the GT Class as the #67 TRG Porsche GT3 went from starting the race in last position, to take a convincing lead in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  The pole-winning qualifying time of driver Andy Lally (Northport, N.Y./Dacula, Ga.), which set a new lap record, had been disallowed after qualifying.  As the 24-hour endurance challenge went on, it was rumored that the clutch on the #67 car had become problematic, causing the drivers to lift a bit early going into turn one and the bus stop chicane – adding to the drama of the GT race.

“The big problem of course was the matter of losing the clutch with 17 hours to go in the race and that makes things very difficult as you can imagine,” said Lally about the problems with the #67 car.  “What it means is there cannot be any mistakes made.  If you spin out for some reason and have to be towed back to the pits you’re going to lose three or four laps and you might as well just pack it up and go home because your race is done.”

In the end, the lead was converted to a win for the team that included drivers Brendan Gaughan (Las Vegas, Nev.), Wolf Henzler (Nuertingen, Germany) and Spencer Pumpelly (Arlington, Va./Suwanee, Ga.).

“It’s an incredible thing that we did. . . to drive so many hours without incident and shifting gears without a clutch,” said Lally.  “We actually had to knock it out of gear and then match the revs of the engine with the speed that the rear tires were going in order to get the car into gear and to do that for so long is amazing.  It was pretty tricky but we all seemed to figure out how to do it.  This is absolutely the greatest feeling there is to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”

For many, and two in particular, the 49th edition of this classic 24-hour endurance race was a watershed event.

“It’s been my dream to be on the podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said actor Patrick Dempsey who was overwhelmed with emotion after taking the podium with a third-place finish in the GT class driving the #40 Mazda RX-8.  Dempsey was making his fourth career appearance in this edition of the legendary endurance race, having seen his previous best-finish last year with a sixth.  His post-race remarks included joking that he would be retiring from the television show Gray’s Anatomy as a result of his performance here so that he could race more frequently.  “Now there’s a headline,” he said before seriously addressing the contributions of the rest of his team.  “This is a team sport,” said Dempsey.  “We have a lot of people who made it possible for us to be here.”

“This 24-hour race went down to the green white checkered flag,” said Italian racer Max Papis who resides in Miami, Florida, after finishing third in the DP in the #9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley.  “In my 17 years at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, I never thought I would see it.  For sure, to open the season like this…I’m enjoying a lot what we’ve done today.  To me it was one of the best races I’ve ever been part of.”