Mexico City: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

LUIS DIAZ LEADS CHIP GANASSI RACING TO MEXICO CITY FOR ROLEX SERIES FINALE MEXICO CITY (November 3, 2005) -- With only one round remaining in the 14-race Rolex Sports Car Series season-long title fight, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates...

LUIS DIAZ LEADS CHIP GANASSI RACING TO MEXICO CITY FOR ROLEX SERIES FINALE

MEXICO CITY (November 3, 2005) -- With only one round remaining in the 14-race Rolex Sports Car Series season-long title fight, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will come out of the corner swinging in defense of their Daytona Prototype team championship this weekend as Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez plays host to the Grand American finale dubbed the "La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car".

The venue may have changed for this year's curtain-closer, but the two contending teams in the Rolex Series championship battle have stayed the same. Last season, Scott Pruett and CGRFS teammate Max Papis managed to hold off the venerable SunTrust Racing team at California Speedway to win the Daytona Prototype championship for CompUSA in their first season of sports car competition. This time around, the no.01 TELMEX Lexus-Riley, piloted by Pruett and Luis Diaz, stand second in the title hunt to SunTrust by a seemingly insurmountable 32-point lead (407-375) with one race remaining. 35 points are awarded to the racewinner in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

For the second straight season, the no.01 team found its way to victory lane with wins at Fontana, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Virginia International Raceway, displaying the championship form that is representative of the famed Chip Ganassi Racing designation. Last year's Grand American title added to the Ganassi team's storied trophy mantle, which proudly displays the hardware from four consecutive CART titles (1996-'99), the 2000 Indianapolis 500 and the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series championship.

Coming off their third win of 2005 at Virginia, Pruett and Diaz still have a glimmer of hope for a repeat of the title in the no.01 machine, but the odds will be stacked against them as rival SunTrust Racing need only start the race to clinch the championship.

All eyes will be on hometown hero Diaz as the series makes its first appearance south of the border on the spectacular 2.786-mile road course where the co-headlining Champ Car World Series has drawn record crowds in excess of 400,000 since the race's 2002 debut. The Mexican pilot knows the importance of this event in his native country, and is proud to have sponsor TELMEX expand its role as primary sponsor on both the no.01 CompUSA and no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Rileys for this special event.

"I want to win this badly," said Diaz. "This is the biggest race of my career, and it's great to have TELMEX on board sponsoring the cars with special paint schemes for my home race. The Rolex Series should be very well received in Mexico. The Rodriguez Brothers, for whom the track Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is named, have a special association with this inaugural event having competed in similar style cars in their day. I hope I can live up to that tradition, and continue the legacy of great Mexican drivers here this weekend."

Pay special attention in Mexico City to the new-look no.01 and no.02 Ganassi Daytona Prototypes as they shed their season-long livery for an eye-popping light blue duo of TELMEX paint schemes in anticipation of their fourth win of 2005.

Diaz' co-pilot Pruett will return to the cockpit after a hard hit took him out of last weekend's IROC (International Race of Champions) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"I'm still a little bit sore and I have some bumps and bruises, but nothing serious enough to keep me away from the action," said seven-time Rolex Series racewinner Pruett of the accident. "Although the championship is all but out of our reach, we still intend to go for the pole, and put the no.01 TELMEX car in victory lane for Luis. This is a huge weekend for him, and I know he'll rise to the occasion."

In the team's second pit stall will be no.02 TELMEX Lexus-Riley of Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner. Wagner, who represented the Rolex Series last month as part of a two-day advance media tour, came into Mexico early this week to feed his affinity and anticipation of Saturday's inaugural event.

"If the reception at Mexico City of the race drivers is any indication of the race, I'll be thrilled to be there," said Wagner. "The press and the track spokespeople are all first rate, and you can tell that they take their racing very seriously. They treat the drivers like stars. The track and the facility are all first-rate. It will be exciting to finally do some laps at speed on that great track. I was the first one to put in a request to carry Luis' helmet all week, so hopefully I am chosen, as he is going to be the real hero."

Finally, Wagner's co-driver Johansson is no stranger to the 17-turn Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez layout, having owned a two-car Champ Car team (including former Chip Ganassi Racing champion Jimmy Vasser) when CART returned to action here in 2002. The Swede is also a six-time veteran of Grand Prix races contested at the track.

"The track is all about rhythm," said Johansson based on his prior Formula One experience. "It has a number of bumpy sections that the driver must get exactly right, or you're in for a long day. The only difference in the track from when I raced here before is the addition of the stadium section. I'm looking forward to renewing acquaintances and can't wait to get going."

Fans of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can catch the no.01 and no.02 TELMEX Lexus-Rileys in action at the La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car this Saturday, November 5th (LIVE, SPEED Channel, 4:00 pm ET) at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the final round of the Rolex Sports Car Series. Follow the team's progress throughout the race weekend by logging on to 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.

About Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Indianapolis-based Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates fields the no.01 CompUSA and no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Rileys in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype class for defending Rolex Series Champion Scott Pruett (no.01), second-year Mexican pilot Luis Diaz (no.01), accomplished international racer Stefan Johansson (no.02) and 2002-2003 Rolex Series GT Champion Cort Wagner (no.02).

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing