GANASSI, LEXUS EYE RECORD-SETTING THIRD CONSECUTIVE ROLEX 24 VICTORY
TORRANCE, Calif. (Jan.. 22, 2008) -- The Lexus-powered Chip Ganassi Racing team will attempt to make history as the first team ever to win the overall Rolex 24 at Daytona crown three consecutive years, when the cars take to the track in this year's twice-around-the-clock extravaganza on Jan. 26-27.
The two-car Ganassi team features no less than five previous Rolex 24 overall winners, three Indianapolis 500 champions and four Indy car series champions.
Scott Pruett leads the way as the team's full-time driver in the defending champion #01 TELMEX/Lexus. Pruett is the all-time event record-holder for wins with seven Rolex 24 titles to his credit. He'll be joined by a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners turned NASCAR drivers in Juan Montoya and reigning '500' and Indy Racing League (IRL) champ Dario Franchitti. Rounding out the group is Pruett's full-time teammate Memo Rojas, the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series Rookie- of-the-Year. Montoya joined Pruett in the winning #01 in last year's event.
"For me personally, it's just exciting to be here with Chip Ganassi Racing, a first-class racing operation," said Pruett, the 2004 Daytona Prototype champion. "Lexus has continuously shown that they are not only fast, but have great durability with their engines. If we do things right, we'll put ourselves into position to win another race."
The #02 Target/Lexus from Ganassi Racing's will feature two full-time open wheel racers, 2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon, and 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner and series champion Dan Wheldon. That same duo led the Ganassi Racing team to the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona title. They will be joined by another former Rolex 24 titleist, Salvador Duran. Completing the line-up is 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd, who is expected to campaign a limited schedule for the Ganassi IRL team this season.
"The starting field here is very unique," relayed Wheldon. "There are so many different champions that come here from across the globe. As a professional driver, you want to beat the best of the best and this is one of those events where you can do that, so it's incredibly unique because of that fact. But that's also what makes it very enjoyable and rewarding to win."
The Ganassi team isn't the only Lexus team with an impressive array of drivers for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. After closing the 2007 campaign out with a top-five finish at the season finale in Salt Lake City with long-time team driver Shane Lewis, the Southard Motorsports team has added NASCAR veteran Bill Lester to co-drive for the entire 2008 campaign. Lester has spent the last four seasons competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, as well as making a handful of Sprint Cup starts.
Joining that pair at Daytona will be former Toyota Atlantic champion and IRL winner Alex Barron, as well as top modified driver Ted Christopher, who also has made a number of NASCAR Sprint Cup starts. Christopher ran last year's Rolex 24 with the Brumos Racing team.
"As evidenced by the field, the Rolex 24 at Daytona has re-emerged as one of the major racing events in the world," said Gary Reed, Toyota Racing Development vice president of special racing projects. "To win even one 24-hour event is a major accomplishment, to win three in a row would be monumental. It certainly won't be an easy task, but we plan to make every effort to get the job done."