Ganassi Team Still Wins After Grand-Am Penalties

Orlando, FL (July 5, 2010) – The exciting Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Reserve Cask No.16 Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway was quite exciting and was their 100th races for the Daytona Prototypes. But really the talk is about how Chip Ganassi Racing has won five races and has been the car to beat. However, the big talk is the penalty that they received this week of 25 owner and driver points and $15,000 donated to the Hole in the Wall Gang charitable organization. But there was no clear cut answer to what they did wrong and it made for mixed feelings along pit road. A lot of drivers thought they needed to do more than the 75 pounds weight penalty they received. Not sure how Grand Am is going to handle the political fallout.

However what does the Ganassi Team do? They win again. The only thing I can remember is last year when Brumos won the 24 hour race the next they made a competition adjustment (Took 6th gear and RPMS), however they failed to win the remainder of the year until Grand-Am gave them something back and the end of the year when they won at Homestead. I think they need to be proactive and make an adjustment so everyone has a chance to win. Just like they did to Brumos they need to level the playing field. Because the at the end of the year if you have one team win most of the races, Porsche is going to remember what they did to them last year when they won race and the next race they made them adjustments.

Thus Scott Pruett took the lead with one hour remaining and led all but one of the remaining laps in the BMW-powered Ganassi entry started by Memo Rojas. Pruett beat Rolex 24 Daytona winner Ryan Dalziel to the checkered flag by 24.304 seconds. With this impressive win, Pruett extends his Daytona Prototype leading total to 28 victories; it was the 29th triumph for the Ganassi team.

“It’s great for our team to win the 100th DP race – that’s incredible,” Pruett said. “That says a lot for GRAND-AM for what they’ve achieved and where it’s going. It’s a special mark for our team. Today we didn’t have the fastest race car, but we raced smart and we raced clean and we did what we had to do. Good things happen to good people.” How did the car run with the added weight? “I don’t know how to describe racing with the extra weight,” Rojas said. “Try running a sprint with a backpack and then try to slow down. But we were able to stay focused, and Scott hasn’t made a single mistake all season.”

It was really great to see Ricky Taylor get his first pole and his father, Wayne Taylor was really proud of him. However, he was very nervous before the start of the race you could see it as he was pacing around. He really did a good job under pressure, even though he got punted by Jon Fogarty midway through the race. Co-driver Max Angelelli took over and finished ninth. It was really good to see someone start from karting and come through the ladder system and really show a lot of people that he will be a force in sports car racing.

Michael Shank Racing is also having another good year. They feel they finished first in the ‘other class.’ But really are feeling good about their performance and feel they’re getting close to winning a race.

The Brumos team was a little disappointed in their finish, at one point in the race they were really putting some pressure on the Ganassi team, but then they faded to fourth place.

Also, in the GT class, Andy Lally passed Joey Hand with nine laps remaining to win his third race of the season, joining RJ Valentine in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3. “Joey and I have had great battles at almost every track we go to, and it’s great to be back up here,” Lally said. “This was RJ’s first race in a year-and-a-half, and he showed up here and gave great feedback. He drove awesome in wet conditions during practice yesterday, and he was hauling the mail early in today’s race.” Hand finished second, joined by Paul Dalla Lana and Bill Auberlen in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6. Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell finished third, giving the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro its first podium finish in six races.

“Andy Lally and I have been racing together since we were kids, and we’ve had only one kind of battle – great ones,” said Hand, who joined Auberlen in giving Turner Motorsport its first GT victory in the most recent race at Mid-Ohio. “Andy was coming on strong today, and his car was strong today. I wasn’t much of a match for him today.”

I think the big surprise was walking through the pits during the race and running into Jean Todt FIA president and former head of Ferrari F1. I chatted with him for a little bit and told me he was an invited guest of Chip Ganassi. He was seeing how things ran over here and even in the drivers meeting. I asked him about a US Grand Prix and he said it is priority to come back here and this a huge market and it is missed.

The next race for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series will be the New Jersey Motorsports Park 250 presented by Crown Royal, set for Sunday, July 19, in Millville, N.J.

Grand-Am Media contributed to this report.

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