Indianapolis, Ind. – Chip Ganassi’s star-studded Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series team has one goal for Friday’s inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – winning. “We are here to win the North American Endurance Championship,” the legendary car owner said.
At a press conference on Thursday, Ganassi praised Grand-Am and Jim France for establishing the championship and he went on to say his quest for the championship has been strengthened with the addition of a second car for Indianapolis champions Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.
Driving a pair of BMW Riley’s, Montoya and McMurray will be racing with teammates Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in hopes that one of them will take the win in the three-hour event. “Coming to Indianapolis with Memo and Scott leading in points and with Juan and Jamie having won here previously, we are fielding a strong combination of drivers,” Ganassi said. “And we are glad to fill up our second car with guys that know how to win.”
For Montoya, he becomes the first driver to race an IndyCar, a F1 car, a stock car and now a sports car at the famed track. “It is exciting for me,” Montoya said. “It is funny how Indy started for me. I had been with Chip for two years when he said he wanted to run the 500, and it turned out to be great. “Winning the 500 has been one of the highlights of my career. This is one of the biggest race tracks in the world, and one of the places you want to race. And I am lucky to have raced in every series,” he said.
Added McMurray, “It is an honor to be in this race, and the sports-car race is a super-cool idea. I have watched a lot of F1 races on TV from here, and I have wanted to run on this track forever.” But he said the race may be a pain in the neck. “One of the unique things that came up during our test was the strain on our necks,” he noted. “All of the corners are to the right and turn 1 seemed like three minutes long to me. In the last couple of weeks, Juan and I have been working out to strengthen our necks.”
Rojas and Pruett also revel in the opportunity to race sports cars at Indy. “It is a dream come true for me,” Rojas stated. Having raced an IndyCar and a stock car, Pruett stated he was thrilled to add the sports car race to his credentials. “Our shop is only 15 to 20 minutes from here, and this race is very much a hometown race for us,” Pruett said. “It is even more exciting after what Dario (Franchitti) and Scott (Dixon) did here in the Indianapolis 500 in May. Having the sports cars here makes this a historic race, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Pruett went on to describe the 2009 Rolex Series test at Indy when the assembled teams tried three track configurations before settling on the present one. “We did three different tracks to see what would suit our cars the best and from the fan standpoint,” the multi-time champion said. “We had hoped to be here in 2010 or 2011 and we finally got here, and there’s a lot of electricity in the air with this race.”
As in the past, Ganassi indicated he’s always thrilled to be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The Speedway is a magical center of motorsports,” he said. “For Grand-Am to be here is great, and it brings two things together. “We are bullish on Grand-Am for the future, and it is great for Grand-Am to be on this stage.”
Ganassi repeatedly stated the importance of winning at Indianapolis and underscored his desire to be in victory lane. “We got into every race with the through of winning, and everyone gets so excited about coming to a big race weekend like this,” he commented.
Once again, Pruett and Rojas are leading the Rolex Series DP standings and the team comes into the race third in the NAEC points. The NAEC championship goes to the top team in points at the end of the day and even though Action Express Racing and the Starworks Motorsport team are the leaders, a victory by either the Pruett-Rojas or Montoya-McMurray combination would give the championship and the $100,000 prize to the Ganassi team.
Of course, a victory by either Action Express or Starworks entry yields the championship to one of them. Therefore, the Brickyard Grand Prix should command world-wide attention a day from now.