Fontana: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing ready for Rolex Championship Finale Fontana, California, October 27th, 2004 ---- In what has been the most competitive season in Rolex Grand American Sportscar Series history, three points (327-324) are all that...

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing ready for Rolex Championship Finale

Fontana, California, October 27th, 2004 ---- In what has been the most competitive season in Rolex Grand American Sportscar Series history, three points (327-324) are all that stand between first and second place in the championship standings heading into this Sunday's Lexus Grand American 400k at California Speedway for the 2004 season finale.

In what has been the most competitive season in Rolex Grand American Sportscar Series history, three points (327-324) are all that stands between first and second place in the Championship standings heading into this Sunday's Lexus Grand American 400k at California Speedway.

CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has led the hunt for the Rolex Series championship since the No.01 Lexus Riley, co-driven by Scott Pruett and Max Papis, had its first win at the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant in May.

Now, after eleven of twelve races, a series record ten pole positions in one season, and three wins and seven podiums total, just one more win in the 2004 season finale would sew up the driver and team title for CompUSA, as well as the engine and chassis constructor championship for Lexus and Riley Technologies. Second place rivals, Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli in the No.10 Daytona Prototype have also won three races this season and are riding a streak of four straight podium finishes.

"The championship is going to come right down to an incredibly exciting end and that's a credit to the series because it truly shows how close the competition is whether it's a manufacturer championship or whether it's the driver or team title," says Pruett."It's a little stressful for the teams, but good for the series. It's going to be a great show. The CompUSA team is ready to put it all on the line in California and see exactly what we're made of."

"The CompUSA team wants this championship very badly and we've worked hard both on and off the track for it and the fact remains we're still the ones to beat," says Papis. "We have one thing in mind: bringing the championship to Lexus and Riley, bringing the championship to CompUSA and Chip Ganassi. It's going to be very exciting. I am really focusing on giving my best to the team. We are ready for it."

No.02 CompUSA co-drivers Luis Diaz and Jimmy Morales know that all is on the line for their no.01 CompUSA teammates and they'll be there to help them battle, but the no.02 Lexus Riley co-drivers and crew, who are 8th in the team championship standings, have their own motivation to drive them just as hard.

"Max and Scott and the entire CompUSA team has winning on their mind and it's no different for Jimmy (Morales) and I," says Diaz who has had two podiums and six top 5 finishes this year to date. "We know the championship is at stake and we'll do everything we can to help but the no.02 team is also focused on a win. It would be our first of the season and we want it just as badly. It'll be a team effort out there but we're still competitors so anyway you look at it, it's going to be an intense race weekend."

To cap off what can be qualified as a very successful rookie season with the no.01 and no.02 CompUSA Lexus-Riley entries, CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has decided to field a third Lexus Riley entry for the season finale, designated as the no.8 CompUSA Lexus Riley, with drivers Scott Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series Champion, and Target teammate Darren Manning sharing the driving duties.

"In the past few weeks, excitement over the CompUSA Team's successes this year has been shared with our IndyCar team with whom they work along side at the race shop in Indianapolis," said CompUSA team owner Chip Ganassi. "There's also been a lot of talk and excitement over the IRL going road racing next year. That combination led to talks of adding a third CompUSA entry with Scott and Darren that would allow them to get a little taste of the competitive world of Rolex Grand Am racing and also get a little tune up for their return to road racing. It's thanks to our partners at Lexus and CompUSA that it all came together for this Rolex Series finale and we're all looking forward to having a great race weekend."

Dixon had his first experience with Rolex Grand American Sportscar Series earlier this year when he participated in the season opener at the Rolex 24 hours at Daytona as one of the four no.01 CompUSA drivers.

"The 24 hours at Daytona was a good first time introduction to endurance racing for me," said 2003 IRL champ Scott Dixon. "We had a fair race at Daytona but the CompUSA team along with Lexus has really improved from that initial race and has had a very successful first season. It will be really interesting to compare the experience. I've never run on the Fontana road course but I'm really looking forward to it. The team has got a championship on their mind and it'll be great to be part of it. "

"I expect it to be great fun but we are certainly taking this very seriously," said Manning who is about to get his first introduction to Rolex Grand American Sportscar racing. "It will be very competitive out there and we'll do our best to run with the leaders. I'm not at all sure what to expect but I plan on getting a lot of practice in. It'll be fun to be paired up with Scott (Dixon) and we both have a lot of road course experience going for us. Of course we have the added benefit of running for a CompUSA team that has had a pretty successful run this season."

"I'm really pleased about seeing the third car out there," says Papis." Our goal is the Championship. That's why Chip Ganassi committed, and CompUSA and Lexus and Riley committed, to put the third car out there, because we're going to take no prisoners. We're going to be out there fighting to win the championship, and win the race. I think that along with Diaz and Morales and with the added help of Manning and Scott Dixon, it's going to be awesome."

Fans of CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates can catch all three Lexus Rileys going for the win and the Championship at the 2004 Rolex Series Finale at California Speedway in Fontana, LIVE on SPEED Channel, beginning at 4:00 PM (ET) on Sunday, October 31st. 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 by logging onto their official website at chipganassiracing.com for news, features, photos and much more.

EXTRA NOTES:

* Scott Pruett --Book Signing-- Following up the success of their first children's book publication of "Twelve Little Race Cars", Scott and wife Judy Pruett have released their second book "Twelve More Little Race Cars" which will soon be available at Target stores nationwide.

This time, the follow up book introduces children to the world of closed-wheel sportscar racing such as the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and NASCAR. A counting tool and vocabulary builder, the fast paced story of twelve more little race cars on race day is written in easy-to-read rhyme, and brings the action, color, humor and authenticity of racing to its younger fans.

The newest book will be available for sale to young racing fans at this weekend's Rolex Series finale at California Speedway and Pruett will be available to sign his book.

* Scott Dixon Double Duty--Even though the IRL IndyCar® Series season has ended, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon remains a busy man.

"The IndyCar (Series) season may be over, but things haven't slowed own at all for us at Target Chip Ganassi Racing," Dixon said. "On Tuesday, I was in and out of New York City for an Esquire Magazine photo shoot for our sponsor TAG Heuer. On Wednesday, I travel to California for the Rolex Grand Am Hoosier Tire test that takes place all day Thursday on the road course at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif."

Dixon and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Darren Manning are scheduled to compete in a third Riley-Lexus Daytona Prototype for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing in the Grand American Road Racing Series season finale on Oct. 31.

But that's not the only racing Dixon will do this weekend as he'll join fellow IndyCar Series drivers Scott Sharp and Helio Castroneves for the final race of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., on Oct. 30

"On Friday morning, I have the first official practice session for the Lexus Grand American 400," Dixon said. "As soon as I get out of the car at the end of the session, I'll be heading directly to the airport to fly to Atlanta (for the IROC race). After the IROC race I'll jump back on a plane to California to take part in the Rolex Series finale."

Dixon had hoped to make a side trip to the IRL Championship Celebration in The Bahamas, but his schedule won't allow it.

"This is such a busy week that unfortunately, I won't even have a chance to go to the cruise," he said. "I guess The Bahamas just wasn't in the cards this week, but being on a race track is where I prefer to be on any given day."

-cgr-

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