JOHANSSON TIP TOES BACK INTO TOP 10 AFTER TIRE BARRIER TROUBLE FONTANA, Calif. (April 3, 2005) -- Los Angeles native Cort Wagner ran into trouble early in today's Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway, but New Century Mortgage Chip ...
JOHANSSON TIP TOES BACK INTO TOP 10 AFTER TIRE BARRIER TROUBLE
FONTANA, Calif. (April 3, 2005) -- Los Angeles native Cort Wagner ran into trouble early in today's Ferrari Maserati 400k at California Speedway, but New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates co-driver Stefan Johansson was able to relieve Wagner of the helm on Lap 11 of 86 and make his way into the top 10 to secure a respectable sixth-place finish for the no.02 New Century Mortgage machine.
Wagner, the Rolex Sports Car Series 2002-2003 GT Champion, qualified the Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Daytona Prototype eighth, but was forced onto pit lane for service when the air filter hose came loose on his helmet.
"We had a podium car today," said a disappointed Wagner. "The New Century Mortgage car was running strong all weekend long and it's really a shame we were taken out of contention so soon. After the hose came undone in the cockpit, I was unable to see anything and had to pit immediately. Stefan came in to take the wheel pretty early, and we knew we had to climb a mountain to get back in this thing."
Johansson did exactly that. Charging back up through the field after falling back to 14th position, he used years of experience and prototype prowess to bring the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley to teammate Scott Pruett's bumper for third place. Although the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley of Pruett and Luis Diaz would go on to score the win for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johansson lost an argument with a tire barrier on Lap 66 that kept him in arrears of the frontrunners for good.
"There's a very simply explanation to what happened-- driver error," said Johansson of his drive's demise. "I had a run on [Max] Angelelli and I got up on the curbing. When I did that I upset the car, which in turn sent my feet off the pedals. I tried to gather it up, but it was too late. I slid off course and into the tire barrier. We had a good run going, but it's hard to drive the car without any side view mirrors."
Although Johansson dropped out of serious contention for the win, he managed to pick off three more prototypes ahead of him after the shunt and wound up sixth.
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz brought the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley to Victory Lane for the second straight time at Fontana in the closest finish in Rolex Sports Car Series history-- just 0.096-seconds.