Daytona 24: Chip Ganassi Racing final report

DAYTONA BEACH, FL., February 1st, 2004--Mother nature put CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to the test perhaps even more than the competition on track for their inaugural race in the Grand American Rolex Sportscar series. Rain began...

DAYTONA BEACH, FL., February 1st, 2004--Mother nature put CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to the test perhaps even more than the competition on track for their inaugural race in the Grand American Rolex Sportscar series. Rain began just one and a half hours into the race and never really let up, presenting an added challenge for both drivers and equipment and marking only the second time in the history of the Rolex 24 at Daytona that a race was red flagged (after 19 hours for approx 3 hours) for any period of time.

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates began the race weekend in grand form with a pole position and a strong driver lineup that included Scott Pruett, Max Papis and Jimmy Morales and Scott Dixon on board a Lexus-Riley but encountered a few challenges throughout the race on route to a 6th place finish in the Daytona Prototype class and tenth place overall.

"Early on in the race visibility became just impossible," explained veteran driver Scott Pruett, overall winner of the 1994 Daytona 24 hour race. "The team gave us a good reliable car but the rain, oil and rubber on the track gave the wiper trouble after just 20 laps. As planned, we remained in the top 5 for the first half of the race and didn't encounter any mechanical problems with the Lexus Riley. It wasn't until past the 12 hour mark that we had a heat exchanger spilt and the engine temperature went up. That cost us a lot of time but after we got that repaired, the problems were mostly rain related. The track became a river. Water was getting into the car and the windshield was constantly fogged up, reducing the visibility to nothing."

"In the early morning hours, I think I came in almost every 2nd lap for a while there during my stint just to change the windshield," said Max Papis, overall winner of the race in 2002. "I don't think the crew got any rest at all until the track became undriveable and the officials threw the red flag. It's too bad because we started out the weekend on such a high note with the pole. We knew that it was going to be a tough race but mother nature really knows how to add to the adventure."

"I got a good run in for the last few hours of the race and am happy with the experience," said veteran Mexican driver Jimmy Morales who took the Lexus-Riley across the finish line. "The team worked very hard to get us ready for this weekend but I am sure we will be even better heading to Homestead for the next race."

"It was a good first time introduction to endurance racing for me, said 2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon. "Of course we all had hoped for a better result but the team will learn from this and prepare for the rest of the Grand Am Rolex season. I'd certainly like to try this again next year."

Team Owner Chip Ganassi was pleased with the team's initial performance but knows that there is plenty of work and progress ahead for his young team. "I am glad to see how quickly this team has come together in such a short period of time. This is a fantastic series and the strength of the competition we saw this weekend gives us something to shoot for. We now have something to build on and I know we are up to the challenge."

The CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be back on track with a two car effort and drivers Luis Diaz, Jimmy Morales, Max Papis and Scott Pruett on February 26th-28th for a 250 mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-mp/gcr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Max Papis , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Jimmy Morales , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing