CompUSA Looking for Retribution at Homestead Indianapolis, IN - September 17th, 2004 -- Following a one week postponement of the Rolex Series race in Florida due to hurricane related weather concerns and issues, the CompUSA Chip Ganassi...
CompUSA Looking for Retribution at Homestead
Indianapolis, IN - September 17th, 2004 -- Following a one week postponement of the Rolex Series race in Florida due to hurricane related weather concerns and issues, the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team will take to the track at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this coming weekend for the Miami 250, the series' second visit of the season to the 2.3-mile (11-turns) road course.
The race weekend has also been shortened to a two day event and qualifying will not take place due to time constraints. Instead, the starting grid order will be determined based on current championship points, which will give the no.01 CompUSA Lexus Riley their 8th pole in nine races in this their inaugural season in the Rolex Grand American Sports car series. The no.02 CompUSA Lexus Riley, driven by Mexican driver duo of Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz will start from 9th place on the grid.
The CompUSA team's first visit to the Homestead track in late February 2004 for the second race of the year was certainly a memorable one and considered one of the most thrilling races of the 2004 Rolex series season. In that race, both CompUSA Lexus-Rileys had stints as race-leaders, but in the end, separate on-track incidents would prove costly for both cars. This weekend, the CompUSA team will be looking for retribution for that initial Miami adventure.
It was the first race for series rookie Luis Diaz and the CompUSA team's second car, the no.02 Lexus Riley. By lap 90, Diaz had the lead and had set the second fastest lap time of the race, but following a caution, enthusiasm got the best of him. He was about to be assessed a penalty for passing the pace car, when the no.02 car slid off course in turn one and the day came to an abrupt end.
"We were right there, in the lead, and as good as the no.02 Lexus Riley was that day, I know how much the CompUSA team has improved it.," says Diaz who along with Morales has had a pair of solid third place finishes at "Six Hours of the Glen" and at the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic. "We had the car to lead and win that first race in Miami and we know we have an even better one now. I feel that I have a lot more experience to contribute as well and I won't let another opportunity like that slip away. Jimmy (Morales) and I have had two podium finishes this year but what we really want is that first win and it would be bittersweet to get it here. With just four races left, I feel like we still have a lot we can do to show how hard the team has worked, how strong we really are and add to the success the team has had this season."
Following the no.02 car's unfortunate exit, the no.01 Lexus Riley driven by Max Papis took over the lead with the no.27 car of Jan Magnussen in hot pursuit. On lap 101, they headed towards the front stretch and battled door to door but neither would come out of the encounter unscathed. The two competitors made contact on more than one occasion and sustained enough damage to put themselves out of contention for the win and onto the sports highlight reels for days to come.
The lessons learned and experience gained since that race, have produced 8 pole positions and 3 wins for the CompUSA team this year to date, and with just 4 races remaining, the no.01 Lexus Riley co-pilots Max Papis and Scott Pruett share the lead in the drivers standings Championship points lead, 19 points ahead of third place driver, Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 car.
"Since that first Homestead race, the CompUSA team has made tremendous improvements to both the Riley Chassis and the Lexus engine and the results have really shown lately," says Papis who resides in nearby Miami. "It will be especially interesting to see how much we have improved from that race to this weekend on the same track. The team is really hungry for more success and I'd like to fight for that win that got away from us last time at this track. While we know we have to play it smart if we want to keep our lead in the standings, we'll look for our opportunities but there won't be the same kind of wheel to wheel banging fans saw last time. I have no doubts it will be another exciting race but we have a championship to think about as well."
Fans of CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can catch all the race action live on SPEED Channel, beginning at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, September 19th. Racing fans can also follow the team's progress throughout the race weekend by logging on to the GrandAmerican.com website for free Zippo live timing results and are invited to follow the team's progress by logging onto their official website at chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.