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Ganassi And Pruett Become 4-Time Rolex24 Victors

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Led by reigning Rolex Series co-champion Scott Pruett led the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Telmex/Target BMW Riley team to victory in the 49th running of the Rolex24 at Daytona.

Winning the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and now the Rolex24 in a 12-month period gives Ganassi an unprecedented “Grand Slam” — the highest achievement in motorsports.

The powerful team also won the Rolex24 for the fourth time and along with two runner-up finishes, it gives the organization the best six-race stretch in the history of the event.

Said Ganassi about his accomplishments, “I don’t drive the cars or work on them. I’m just the guy that stands up here and talks about it. Our focus is always on the next race.”

Co-driving with Pruett were 2010 Rolex co-champion Memo Rojas, sports-car veteran Joey Hand and budding IndyCar star Graham Rahal, a recent addition to Ganassi’s IndyCar team.

“It was a fun race and an exciting one for us to win,” Pruett said. “The guys on this team have done a terrific job. It takes a team to do this job, as there’s so much effort that goes into our preparations. To show how good this car is, it has finished every lap run here in last five years.”

With the victory, Pruett has chalked up nine Rolex24 class victories and joins legends Pedro Rodriguez, Peter Gregg, Rolf Stommelen and Bob Wollek as overall four-time Rolex24 winners.

“I have been working for 15 years to get on the Ganassi team, and it feels good to be part of it. And I am happy to be part of the win,” Hand said.

The Californian was in the lead with three hours to go only to be assessed with a pit-lane penalty for hitting the tire of a competitor. Holding a commanding lead, Hand had to pit and was held for 30 seconds, returning to race in fourth place. But he quickly reeled in those ahead of him to contend for the lead.

“To be in my first race with Chip Ganassi, and there’s no better way to start than with a win,” said Rahal. “It feels so sweet; these are the things you must dream about. It is tremendous.” His father, Bobby Rahal, won the race in 1981.

Pruett drove the final stint of the race and held a strong lead until a late race caution set-up a white-checkered final lap. “With this car being so fast, we could stretch out very fast,” he said. “I pushed as hard as I could and I was incredibly pleased with Grand-Am for finishing the race under the green flag.”

The winning Target/TELMEX BMW completed 721 laps or 2,566 miles, averaging 106.877 miles per hour for the 24-hour race. Due to overnight fog, the race had to be run under caution for three hours beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The quartet of drivers led 231 laps, the most by any competitor.

Leading 190 laps and finishing second was an identical Ganassi BMW Riley piloted by NASCAR stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, who were joined by IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

Third place went to the Action Express Racing Porsche Riley of 2010 winners Terry Borcheller and Joao Barbosa and J. C. France, Max Papis and Christian Fittipaldi.

Fourth and the final car on the lead lap was the United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley piloted by international drivers Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle, plus Americans Zak Brown and Mark Patterson.

Fifth, one lap in arrears, was the SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara of Max Angelelli, Ryan Briscoe and Wayne and Ricky Taylor. This team fought back from adversity throughout the lengthy race and only through a total-team effort did they salvage a solid finish. At one point in race they trailed by 11 laps.

Krohn Racing took sixth with Nic Jonsson, Ricardo Zonta, Nicholas Minassian and owner Tracy Krohn the drivers.

Two additional Michael Shank Racing Fords finished seventh and 10th, respectively, with the Level 5 Motorsports BMW and another Action Express Racing Porsche sandwiched between them.

In GT action, the Sargent & Lundy/South Point Hotel and Casino Porsche GT3 Cup team fielded by Kevin Buckler took the honors. Driving the car were veteran drivers Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Wolf Henzler along with NASCAR’s Brendan Gaughan and Steven Bertheau.

The winning Porsche qualified for the pole but failed the post-qualifying technical inspection by one millimeter and was relegated to the last starting position, but they didn’t stay there long.

Even though the car led 216 of 685 laps, the car’s clutch failed early-on and the drivers had to be particularly sensitive to the situation.

Bryce Miller, Tim Sugden, Bryan Sellers and Rob Bell drove the Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car to second place.

Third place went to Patrick Dempsey Racing’s Mazda RX8 team of Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Tom Long.

Buckler’s TRG team entered five cars with finishes of eighth, 13th, 16th and 21st.

The Rolex Series travels to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for its second 2011 event the first weekend of March.

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