Homestead: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Shows its Stuff in Action Packed Grand Prix of Miami Homestead, Florida, February 28, 2004 -- From green to checkered flag it was a rollercoaster of a ride and emotions for CompUSA Chip...

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Shows its Stuff in Action Packed Grand Prix of Miami

Homestead, Florida, February 28, 2004 -- From green to checkered flag it was a rollercoaster of a ride and emotions for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at the Grand Prix of Miami for the second round of the 2004 Rolex Sportcar Series. Veteran driver Scott Pruett (paired with Max Papis) set the tone for the team when he put the #01 Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype on pole for the second consecutive race. Teammate Jimmy Morales (paired with Luis Dias) wasn't far behind, starting in fifth spot on the grid on the 2.3-mile Homestead Miami Speedway road course.

It took just 8 laps for the fledgling team to find themselves in the top two positions and both cars maintained a foothold in the top five through pit stops and a driver change. By Lap 44, Max Papis in the #01 Lexus Riley was back in the lead, just in front of teammate Luis Diaz, who found himself in some intense battles for position with the rival #27 Daytona Prototype on more than one occasion, in this his first sportscar race experience.

On lap 90, it was Diaz who became the new race leader, setting the second fastest lap time of the race, with teammate Max Papis in hot pursuit, until a yellow flag would end up shuffling the deck. On the restart, Diaz's enthusiasm got the best of him and was about to be assessed a penalty for passing the pace car, when he slid off course in turn one and saw his day come to an abrupt end.

"I'm very disappointed." said Diaz of his restart with just 12 laps left. "The CompUSA Chip Ganassi racing with Felix Sabates team gave Jimmy Morales and me such a great car. We fought so hard to get the lead all race long. It was my first sportscar race and it was just so exciting. Passing in all that traffic was a new experience for me and it was hard to get the timing just right but we managed to get to the front of the field and that was where we should have stayed. After the yellow, my inexperience got the best of me. I lost traction and slid wide in turn one. There just wasn't any room for mistakes. It will never happen again."

Max Papis took over the lead with the #27 car in hot pursuit. On lap 101, they headed towards the front stretch door to door but neither would come out of the encounter unscathed. The two Daytona Prototypes made contact on more than one occasion and both sustained enough damage to put themselves out of contention for the win.

"I came into this race knowing that we would have to race really hard and there would be some good wheel to wheel action, but this was a little over the top." said Max Papis who eventually brought the damaged car across the finish line in seventh place. "I'm not sure what was going on with the #27 car but he hit me hard 3 or 4 times and the #01 Lexus Riley bears some pretty nasty marks to prove it. It's unfortunate for the team because the result is not indicative of how good either one of our cars were today. It was a lot of fun out there and we were right there at the front where we should be. There are a lot of good things that we can take away from this weekend and we'll be that much more motivated for the next race."

Team Owner Chip Ganassi was pleased with the team's efforts and despite the unfortunate result, was encouraged by the demonstration of the drivers' abilities.

"It certainly was an exciting race but not quite the finish we expected. I'm very proud of all our drivers and the entire CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team. We saw a lot of things that we liked that we can build on. The team came prepared to race and proved we could be competitive from the start. With two poles now and both cars running up in the top five for most of the race, we showed that we could have finished first, but we must first finish."

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates fans can tune in to watch this weekend's Grand Prix of Miami on a tape delayed broadcast on SPEED next Sunday, March 7th at 4 p.m. (ET). The team and drivers now get set to do some more testing and development in preparation for their next race weekend in Phoenix, Arizona April 8-9-10 .

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Jimmy Morales , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing