Fontana: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Reinforcements Coming as Ganassi/Lexus Eye Rolex Series Crown TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2004) -- Heading into the Champions Weekend season finale on Oct. 31, Lexus-powered drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis know only one certainty -- win to...

Reinforcements Coming as Ganassi/Lexus Eye Rolex Series Crown

TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2004) -- Heading into the Champions Weekend season finale on Oct. 31, Lexus-powered drivers Scott Pruett and Max Papis know only one certainty -- win to claim the Rolex Series championship. Anything less and they no longer control their own destiny.

The duo has combined to win a series record 10 poles in 11 races, as well as register three victories and seven top-three finishes in 11 races this season. They hold a slim three-point championship lead over their closest rivals - Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor -- with three points as the difference awarded between first and second.

"The CompUSA Lexus team wants this championship very badly," said Papis. "We came out of the last race leading by three points, but the fact remains we're still the ones to beat."

The CompUSA Ganassi Racing team will be a little harder to beat in the Lexus Grand American Champions Weekend with the addition of a third Lexus Riley for IndyCar stars Scott Dixon, who ran with the team in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, and Darren Manning. Not only have both excelled on the Indy Racing League ovals, but both have raced in CART, as well as tested with Formula One teams -- Dixon with the Williams team, while Manning served as the test driver for BAR. The two open-wheel drivers will be able to take advantage of an additional test day at the track on Thursday to better prepare for the race.

"The 24 hours at Daytona was a good first-time introduction to sports car racing for me," said Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion. "We had a fair race at Daytona, but the CompUSA team, along with Lexus, has really worked hard and improved from that initial race. I've never run on the Fontana road course, but I'm really looking forward to it. The team has a championship on their mind and it will be great to be a part of it."

Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz combine to give the CompUSA Ganassi team another strong entry at Fontana. With three consecutive top-five finishes and five in their last seven races, their #02 Lexus has established itself as a contender to break through for their maiden victory. Morales is sixth overall in points heading into the season finale, while Diaz is tied for 10th place.

Doran-Lista Racing already is a proven Rolex Series winner and they, too, will receive reinforcements for the final race of the season with the return of Jan Magnussen, who's been forced to miss the last three races due to previous commitments. In his most recent Daytona Prototype race, he co-drove the #27 Doran-Lista Lexus to victory at Watkins Glen along with the team's lead driver, Didier Theys. Magnussen drove in just four races this season, with the team mounting serious challenges for the victory in three of the four. Doran-Lista Racing is fourth overall in the team points race, while Theys sits in seventh-place in the driver standings.

Despite consecutive 14th-place finishes as a result of on track incidents while running in the top six at the time, Michael Shank Racing continues to maintain fifth in the team points race. The "Little Team That Can" will field a Lexus-powered Doran JE4 with Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle continuing behind the wheel as they have for all but one race this season.

For the season, Lexus-powered cars have won four races, 10 pole positions and secured 10 additional top-three finishes.

Qualifying for the Lexus Grand American 400K will take place Saturday, October 30, while Sunday's season finale race can be seen live on SPEED beginning at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT. The Grand-Am Cup race, featuring Team Lexus and its Lexus IS 300s will take place Saturday immediately following Rolex Series qualifying.

-cgr-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Darren Manning , Jan Magnussen , Didier Theys , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , Luis Diaz , Max Angelelli , Jimmy Morales , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Chip Ganassi , Michael Shank
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Michael Shank Racing