TOUGH DAY FOR NEW CENTURY MORTGAGE TEAM ON MONTEREY PENINSULA MONTEREY, Calif. (May 1, 2005) -- Stefan Johansson pedaled the New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype up to as high as second in the opening...
TOUGH DAY FOR NEW CENTURY MORTGAGE TEAM ON MONTEREY PENINSULA
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 1, 2005) -- Stefan Johansson pedaled the New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona Prototype up to as high as second in the opening laps of the Rolex Series Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today, but telemetry revealed a tire going down and an early pit stop for new Hoosier rubber turned out to be the beginning of the end to a once promising day in Monterey.
Johansson rocketed the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley from his fourth place starting position around teammate Luis Diaz at the drop of the green flag, and made a spectacular move through traffic to get to the leader by Lap 7 of the 97-lap event. However, the team called Johansson down pit lane for four tires and fuel due to a testy tire that was fading fast, which dropped the Swede back to 21st. He was able to work his way back into the top-10 by Lap 32, but when he turned the car over to co-driver Cort Wagner on Lap 39, the New Century Mortgage team took a long look at an overheating issue that eventually took the car out of contention.
Wagner kept the car cool through the second stint, and Johansson came in to relieve him for the final time on Lap 61. Although the car's Lexus-power plant continued to perform, an off in Turn 3 late in the race while in 11th relegated them to a 17th place result.
"We had another rough day for some reason," said Johansson. "The car was fast and performing quite well. The tire that was going down early in the race really hurt us though. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but the guys did a good job on pit stops all day and we gave it our best shot."
Wagner's solid stint brought the car back within striking distance of the top 10, but the California native couldn't make up the spots in the hefty 54-car record field.
"Mechanical gremlins got to us again," said Wagner. "I guess you can say it's another victory left behind for us. We were very strong all weekend and Stefan got us in a great position to contend from the start. This New Century team will not get down though. We'll continue to fight and we'll get the results. It's just a matter of time."
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz brought the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley to Victory Lane for the second-straight race today after a win in Fontana, marking the second time in history the team has scored back-to-back wins (Mont Tremblant/Watkins Glen, 2004).
Fans of New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can follow the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley all season long 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. Next up for the team is the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant on Saturday, May 21 (LIVE, SPEED Channel, 11:00 am ET) in Mont Tremblant, Quebec Canada for Round 5 of the Rolex Sports Car Series.