Chip Ganassi Racing fields 3 entries for Daytona 24

Three Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona Prototype Entries for 43rd Rolex 24 at Daytona Daytona Beach, FL, January 8th, 2005--Following up on their 2004 Championship season, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be back in full force for the...

Three Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona Prototype Entries for 43rd Rolex 24 at Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL, January 8th, 2005--Following up on their 2004 Championship season, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be back in full force for the 2005 Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series with two Daytona Prototype Lexus-Riley entries for the entire season with proud partners CompUSA and newcomer New Century Mortgage. The team will certainly make their presence felt at the upcoming prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, the first race of the 2005 season, with a total of three Daytona Prototype entries with the addition of an All-Star Target car.

"This was the perfect opportunity to build on the Chip Ganassi Racing concept of 'one team' by bringing it all together for an all out assault at the Rolex 24 At Daytona," said team owner Chip Ganassi while overseeing the first day of testing at Daytona International Speedway. "Here we are with three DP Lexus Rileys, nine very talented drivers from three different series, and three major sponsors in CompUSA, New Century Mortgage and Target. We have the tools for success now we just have to put it all together on the track. With 30 Daytona prototypes and 57 cars total entered in this year's race, it looks to be one of the most competitive we've seen. The 2005 season will certainly be a battle but we're looking to win at Daytona, and defend our Rolex Championship title."

The 2004 Rolex Champion Scott Pruett returns to the helm of the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley with a new partner for the season, Mexican driver Luis Diaz (teammate and driver of last season's no.02 CompUSA car), and the motivation to defend his title while adding a few more wins to the team's list of successes. Pruett and Diaz be joined by Australian Ryan Briscoe, a sports car racing rookie and Toyota F1 test driver, as a third driver for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on February 5-6, 2005.

"It's really something to start the season and get ready for the Rolex 24 At Daytona as the defending champion,' says Pruett. "But as competitive as this series was last year, it's going to be even stronger this season, and once that green flag drops, it's anyone's game and titles mean nothing. If you look at the all-star line up for this year's race, it reads like a "who's who" of racing with champs from past years and all different types of racing. It's going to be an incredible race and certainly a very exciting season. Chip Ganassi has put together a stellar program and we'll continue to build on that every day in order to defend our title as champs."

New addition to the Chip Ganassi Racing family, the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley will feature the season long driver lineup of veteran drivers Cort Wagner and Stefan Johansson.

"I'm very pleased to join Chip Ganassi Racing because this is a team that is no stranger to winning," said California native Wagner. "To have New Century Mortgage, a company I've had a relationship with for five years, come on board is very exciting because these are two companies that complement each other very well. The team's Rolex Grand Am program has had a lot of success in their first season and Stefan and I expect to contribute our experience and build on that in order to vie for the championship starting with the at Daytona."

NASCAR young gun Jamie McMurray, who finished 11th the NEXTEL Cup standings in 2004 and was 2003 NASCAR Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year, will get a chance to see his first sports car endurance race up close and personal, as he will join Wagner and Johansson in the no.02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley for the Rolex 24 At Daytona race.

"I've watched the Daytona 24 hour race on television but never had the chance to take it in as a fan or from the driver's seat like I will this year," said McMurray, who amassed nine top-five finishes and 23 top-tens in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2004. "This will be my first race in a DP but my teammates have the experience and I'm picking up a lot from them really quickly. This will definitely be something fun to do but we'll be going for the win. There are lots of my NASCAR buddies out there this year and we're all fighting for bragging rights too."

The team's third car entered for the 43rd running of the prestigious Daytona race will be the no.03 Target Lexus-Riley which brings together, for the first time, all the Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers from both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and IndyCar Series' drivers with Casey Mears, Scott Dixon and Darren Manning.

"My Rolex 24 hour race was quite the experience last year and I think it'll be great to have all three Target drivers together in the no.03 Target Lexus Riley," says Dixon, 2003 IndyCar Series Champion. "Both Darren and I have a little more experience now after the podium in the Rolex season finale last year at Fontana and I know Casey is going to pick it up really quickly. This is going to be a really fun event but it's also going to be ultra competitive out there."

"This will be something really fun, and new for me and I'm really looking forward to the race," said Mears, driver of the No.41 Target Dodge in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. "These Lexus Riley Daytona Prototypes are a happy medium of cars I have driven in the past. They have the downforce of an Indy car on the straight-aways and they are slower in the corners like a stockcar. It'll be a lot of fun, especially if we can make it to the checkered flag first."

Fans of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can catch the no.01 CompUSA and no.02 New Century and no.03 Target Lexus Rileys in action at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, LIVE on SPEED Channel, beginning at 12:00 PM (ET) on Saturday, February 5th. Fans are also welcome to 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 keep up with the team's successes throughout the 2005 season by logging onto their official website at chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.

The 2005 Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series season features races ranging from two-hours to 24 hours in length. The schedule includes an excellent mix of traditional road courses, like Watkins Glen International, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Barber Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and stadium tracks, like California Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Daytona International Speedway.

The Rolex Series consists of two primary classes of competition that race together. The sleek and stylish Daytona Prototypes, which combine engines from the likes of Lexus, Porsche, Ford, Pontiac, BMW, with chassis such as Riley, Crawford, Multimatic, Fabcar, and Picchio. In the production-based GT class, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari among others take the green flag at each Rolex Series event. The 'race within a race' concept adds drama and excitement as Daytona Prototypes battle each other, the track, and the traffic on the 14-race 2005 schedule.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Darren Manning , Stefan Johansson , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Jamie McMurray , Luis Diaz , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing