Daytona 24: Ganassi Racing Thursday report

DIXON SCORES FRONT ROW ROLEX 24 START FOR TEAM TARGET; PRUETT'SbCONSECUTIVE POLE STREAK FIZZLES AT TWO DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 26, 2006) -- Team Target IndyCar driver Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing rolled off pit lane ...

DIXON SCORES FRONT ROW ROLEX 24 START FOR TEAM TARGET; PRUETT'SbCONSECUTIVE POLE STREAK FIZZLES AT TWO

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 26, 2006) -- Team Target IndyCar driver Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing rolled off pit lane second, survived a flat-spotted tire, and still managed to outrun 30 other Daytona Prototypes to secure the second position on the grid for Saturday's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' 44th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona. The 2003 IndyCar Champion continued his fast and furious week in the no.02 Target Riley after he and IRL teammate Dan Wheldon left the Phoenix IndyCar open test first and second overall.

Dixon, no stranger to CGR's Rolex Series program with three career starts under his belt, ran as high as second in the day's 15-minute qualifier at DIS, but his top lap time of 1:44.609 (1:22.513 mph) clocked in on Lap 8 of 9 ultimately catapulted the New Zealander to the outside of the front row.

"Overall I'm pleased with the car and how far we've come with it this afternoon," said Dixon of his qualifying run. "But I think first place was definitely within our reach. I locked up the front tires and set us back a little so that hurt us. At the start, I rolled off behind the no.10 car and was having a good time pressuring him and trying to get into his head to force a mistake. I wanted to get some room to run in the clear, but unfortunately he didn't bite. It's the best starting spot we've had for the Target car at the Rolex 24, so I can't complain. I'm looking forward to my teammates Dan [Wheldon] and Casey [Mears] getting in the car and giving some feedback as well in this evening's night session."

The Ganassi stables' DP anchorman Scott Pruett returned to qualifying in his familiar no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley looking for a third consecutive pole for the twice-round-the-clock classic. Although the CompUSA team delivered a promising practice effort earlier in the day, Pruett wrestled the CGR-prepped machine to an uncharacteristic 10th place qualifying spot (1:44.969, 122.093 mph). The 2004 Daytona Prototype Champion remained optimistic about his chances on bringing team owner Chip Ganassi his first Rolex 24 trophy, but knows there's work to be done.

"We made some changes for qualifying and branched away a little from the setup we ran in practice," said the multidisciplinary motorsports magician Pruett. "It ended up being the wrong decision, but we made the call based on the information we had. I'll take the blame though due to the fact that I locked up the tires early in the session. In the end it hurt us a bit in straight-line speed, so who knows how many more spots we would have gained. Overall, we have some work to do, but I'm confident the CompUSA car will be strong come Saturday."

Overall, the Ganassi roster is an impressive group of North American motor racing Championship talent, representing the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Championships (Wheldon), the 2004 Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championships (Pruett and Papis), and the 2003 IndyCar Series titlist (Dixon).

The sextet boasts three championships, 20 wins and 24 poles combined over the past three seasons in Grand American, IRL and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition, and represents championships each year dating back to 2003. Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Max Papis have united to form the driver lineup for the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, while CGR Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon join NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stablemate Casey Mears in the no.02 Target Daytona Prototype.

Fans of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can follow the team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona by logging onto the Rolex Sports Car Series website at www.grandamerican.com for free live timing, and keep up with the team's successes throughout the 2005 season by logging onto the official website at www.chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more. The Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend at Daytona International Speedway is set for January 26-29. Check your local listings for television times on SPEED Channel.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Casey Mears , Max Papis , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing