North American Endurance Championship claimed by Chip Ganassi Racing.
Indianapolis, Ind. – On Friday evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Starworks with Alex Popow BMW Riley driven by Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow raced to victory in the second edition of the Brickyard Grand Prix, a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race.
For the winning team, the race marked its inaugural run with BMW power.
The winners took the lead seven laps from the end, and they pulled away to a three second advantage when the checkered flag dropped at 8:30 p.m. In total, they led 12 of the 107 laps around the 2.6-mile road course.
Said Dalziel, “Thanks to our new BMW engine for our win at Indy. It was incredible for me to have won the race a year ago. We knew we had a good car today, and it tells us we have a car that can run for the championship. It is crazy, as we only received this engine a week ago. It was a clean race and it was an incredible event.”
Popow added, “For the first time out with the BMW, BMW and our partners did a great job. We had been in a crunch mode, and it has been a challenge for us. We just needed a little more engine and now we have it.”
Mayhem took over during pre-race ceremonies, starting with the kissing of the bricks by the three class winners and their respective teams. Thereafter, the victors took to the winning podium for a long round of celebratory photographs.
Wedged into the ceremonies was the awarding of the North American Endurance Championship trophies to the victorious teams and drivers.
The NAEC win went to the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates BMW Riley team. In the three-hour race, Ganassi drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas finished second overall with Pruett streaking into the runner-up spot with seven minutes remaining.
Pruett’s run was remarkable as he spun around, losing ground, minutes before the end. “We came back from an unfortunate spin to do it. We were focused on the championship, and we needed to do whatever we could to make it happen.
“And for the new BMW engine, it was a great run but a difficult one to drive. The new engine is very thirsty, but a lot of it has to do with the learning experience and different driving style (it requires).”
Added Rojas, “This is one of our highlights of the year, and we are going to make a run for the overall championship.”
Finishing third behind the Starworks and Ganassi entries was the GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing Corvette DP of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. They were 14 seconds off the pace.
Fourth went to another Starworks entry, that of Brendon Hartley, Pierre Kaffer and Scott Mayer.
Crowd favorite Rubens Barrichello and teammate Doug Peterson finished fifth after leading 22 laps. For the F1 ace, he was making his Daytona Prototype debut.
Indianapolis 500 victor Tony Kanaan and Joey Hand put a second Ganassi entry into ninth place, one lap behind the leaders.
The pole winning car and the overall lap leader, the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, encountered numerous issues and ended up 25th overall after being in the front for 34 laps.
In the GT class, Jeff Segal and Max Papis put their R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Ferrari 458 into victory lane.
Said Papis, “This win means a lot more than a normal win. It was definitely a team win. The speed wasn’t there but we never gave up. When you want something bad enough, sometimes things happen for the right reason.
“The last two times I was here things didn’t turn out too well, so walking up pit lane today, I had a lot of mixed emotions. Today, we proved that good things happen to good people.”
Robin Liddell and John Edwards were second in the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R followed by the Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup entry of 2012 race victor Andy Lally and John Potter.
The Stevenson team took the NAEC victory for the GT class.
In the GX class, Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long steered their Mazda 6 GX to a class win and the GX portion of the NAEC run.
Sixteen DPs, 16 GTs and three GX entries were entered for the classic event.