Daytona 24: Toyota Lexus race report

Lexus Takes 4 of Top 7 At Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2005) -- Stefan Johansson, Cort Wagner and Jamie McMurray led the way with a fourth-placefinishin their ...

Lexus Takes 4 of Top 7 At Rolex 24

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2005) -- Stefan Johansson, Cort Wagner and Jamie McMurray led the way with a fourth-placefinishin their #02 New Century Mortgage Lexus-Riley as four Lexus-powered Daytona Prototypesplaced in the top seven in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Overall, each of the six teams using Lexus power ran more 2,200 miles during the race.

The #02 was one of three Ganassi Racing prototypes to finish in the top seven as teammates Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Casey Mears finished sixth in the #03 Target Lexus-Riley and Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Ryan Briscoe placed seventh in the pole-winning #01 CompUSA car. In addition to the Ganassi entries, Fabrizio Gollin, Matteo Bobbbi and Didier Theys finished fifth in their Crown Royal Lexus-Doran for Doran Racing.

The race began with Pruett moving into the lead from the pole and maintaining the lead for most of the first hour before a flurry of troubles eventually hit the defending series champions. An early oil leak, followed by a violent spin through the grass after a punctured tire were just two of the problems that eventually dropped the car back to 48th-place overall after four hours. Despite the setbacks, the Ganassi team never wavered in a stirring drive that gained them 41 positions in the final 20 hours of the event.

Each of the other two Ganassi Racing ptototypes took turns leading the race with the #03 Target Lexus in command at the 16-hour mark. Unfortunately, an earlier off-road excursion to miss a spinning car eventually resulted in overheating and a subsequent fuel pressure problem that would drop them from contention for the victory. The car had run consistently in the top three from the six-hour mark through the 16th hour. In fact, the #03 and #02 Ganassi entries actually ran one-two for an extended period of time in the wee morning hours.

After the Target car was forced into the pits for an extended stop, it was the Crown Royal Doran that carried the Lexus banner as Gollin, Bobbi and Theys ran in the top three for almost the entire final seven hours. The trio entered the final hour in second-place before eventually slipping to fifth at the checkered flag.

While not in serious contention for the win, both the Robinson Racing #74 74 Ranch Resort Lexus-Riley and the Cegwa Sport #3 OzEXE Lexus-Fabcar registered impressive performances. The Robinson Racing entry of Wally Dallenbach, Jr., Paul Dallenbach, George Robinson and Johnny Unser placed 12th in the Daytona Prototype class logging 641 laps, while the Cegwa Sport Lexus driven by Darius Grala, Mark Patterson, Bohdan Kroczek, Shane Lewis and Quentin Wahl placed 14th in class with 630 laps (2,224.8 miles).

The Rolex Sports Car Series will resume action at the Toyota Indy 300 weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 5.

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Darius Grala , Darren Manning , Fabrizio Gollin , Stefan Johansson , Didier Theys , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Jamie McMurray , Luis Diaz , George Robinson , Bohdan Kroczek , Mark Patterson , Johnny Unser , Quentin Wahl , Paul Dallenbach , Cort Wagner
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Doran Racing