PRUETT/ROJAS MAKE HISTORY IN UTAH; LEXUS DRIVERS ENTER THE RECORD BOOK
TOELLE, Utah (Sept. 20, 2008) -- Needing just to complete the series mandated 30-minute minimum to score points, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas turned in a workman-like effort to place ninth in their #01 Telmex Lexus and win the Rolex Sports Car Series championship in today's SunRich Gourmet.com 1000 at the Miller Motorsports Park in Toelle, Utah. In wrapping up the title, both drivers achieved historic feats. For Pruett, it marks a record eighth American sports car championship, breaking the mark he previously held along with the late Peter Gregg. It's his second Rolex Series title to go along with previous championships in IMSA GTO (1986, 1988), Trans-Am (1987, 1994, 2003) and IMSA GT Endurance (1986).
While it was the latest in a long line of titles for Pruett, the championship was not only the first for Rojas, but the first major championship ever won by a Mexican driver. The Lexus-powered duo closed out the 2008 campaign 30 points ahead of their closest competitor. Pruett started today's race in second and the team, which included 2007 Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd this weekend, ran in the top-five for much of the race, including Rojas taking a turn in the race lead. Pruett was contending for a top-five finish late in the race before he was spun around by the #58 car, which was subsequently penalized for the contact. For the second consecutive race, the team was forced to campaign their older back-up chassis after their primary car was destroyed in testing at New Jersey.
The Rolex Sports Car Series will resume again next season at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 25 with the Chip Ganassi Racing team looking to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Rolex 24.
- With the driver's championship officially added to the team championship that was clinched at New Jersey, Lexus has now won six titles in Rolex Sports Car Series competition since 2004.
- The team championship won by Chip Ganassi Racing is their third since 2004, having previously won in 2004 and 2006 -- all coming with Lexus power. Scott Pruett co-drove to each of those championships while teaming with three different drivers, Max Papis in 2004, Luis Diaz in 2006 and Memo Rojas this season.
- For the season, Lexus-powered cars won six races and earned eight top-three podium finishes in 14 events.
- Lexus run of consecutive endurance victories was snapped at two today, but the manufacturer will be looking for a fourth consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona overall victory when the series resumes in January. If a Lexus powered car registers the feat, it would mark the first time a manufacturer has won four straight Rolex 24s in more than 20 years.
Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus: b^0x001cIt's been a great season, from winning the Rolex 24 all the way to wrapping up the championship today. It's just been a privilege to drive for the Chip Ganassi Racing team with such great support from Lexus, Telmex, and of course, my teammate, Scott. It's also a great honor to become the first driver from my country to win a major racing championship -- and this is really for all the people back in Mexico. They love racing and they really support the Rolex Series."
Scott Pruett, #01 Telmex Lexus: "We hoped to finish a little higher today, but we were turned around late in race, but we did what we had to do. After three straight seasons finishing second in this championship, it's great to be back on top. To accomplish what we have all season is just a testament to everyone involved -- the entire Chip Ganassi Racing team, everyone at Lexus and TRD and we couldn't have done it without the support of a great partner in Telmex. The record is great, but I'll look back on that more at the end of my career. Right now, it's all about winning this championship and all the guys that have worked so hard. Nobody puts together a better effort than Chip Ganassi."