Johansson Caps Off Top-Five Rolex Drive For Newest Member of The Ganassi Stable New Century Mortgage DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- After posting the fourth best qualifying time earlier in the week piloting the no.02...
Johansson Caps Off Top-Five Rolex Drive For Newest Member of The Ganassi Stable New Century Mortgage
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- After posting the fourth best qualifying time earlier in the week piloting the no.02 Lexus-Riley for recently formed New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, seasoned racing veteran Stefan Johansson of Sweden put the wraps on a top-five drive after season-long Rolex Series teammate Cort Wagner and NASCAR star Jamie McMurray rotated through night and day to bring their Daytona Prototype home fourth.
The 24 hour showdown was the maiden run for the green and gold New Century Mortgage machine, and the action left the team gasping for more through the early stages of the event on the 3.56-mile road course in Daytona, as they acquired a fuel pressure problem which required immediate and regular attention from the experienced Ganassi Racing crew.
"This New Century team came to this race prepared to win, so it is really disappointing for everyone involved to have our chances of winning a race disappear in the middle of the night like that," said Johansson, who was looking to become just the eighth pilot in history to score wins at The Rolex 24, Le Mans and Sebring. "A fuel pressure problem is what put us behind the wall and killed any chance of contending, but it was important to keep our composure, get back out there and drive to the end because with this 24 hour race, you never know what can happen at the end. It's an accomplishment just finishing the Rolex 24 hour race, so there is some satisfaction in knowing we gave it everything we had and we made it to the end. Next year we'll want to do it all over again."
A veteran of 13 Daytona Prototype starts in Rolex Sports Car Series competition, Wagner understands the importance of running strong, pacing yourself and having Lady Luck on your side in order to take the checkered flag the elite enduro event.
"The key to winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona is to stay out of the pits," said Wagner, the 2002 and 2003 Grand American GT Champion. "All of the team drivers kept their noses clean and avoided any contact or crashes for the full 24 hours. We ran the pace but just had some rough luck. Getting together with Ganassi, New Century and Stefan for the rest of the rest of the season is a whole plate of mojo. Jamie did a great job with the car and ran good times and kept out of trouble. He's got a great attitude and while this was probably a lot less pressure than he's used to, he drove the no.02 New Century strong and it was a fun to have the opportunity to drive with him."
McMurray, who strapped into a 500hp Daytona Prototype for the first time two weeks ago at the Rolex Series Daytona Test, was intrigued by the event, proud of his teammates and can't wait until to do it all over again.
"This was just a tremendous experience," said McMurray, driver of the no.42 Texaco/Havoline Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. "It's just so different than any racing I have ever done and it certainly was a new experience to wake up in the middle of the night to go racing but I just had a blast out there. We've had a couple of months off now and it was great to be on track with so many of the best in the business. I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Fans of New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can catch the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley all season long by logging onto the Rolex Sports Car Series website at www.grandamerican.com for free live timing, and the team's official website at www.chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.