Fontana: Chip Ganassi Racing Saturday report

As Easy As 1-2-3 in Qualifying: Pole Position for CompUSA in Season Finale Fontana, California, October 30th, 2004 ---- For a record setting 11th time in a single Rolex Sportscar Series season, the No.01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix ...

As Easy As 1-2-3 in Qualifying: Pole Position for CompUSA in Season Finale

Fontana, California, October 30th, 2004 ---- For a record setting 11th time in a single Rolex Sportscar Series season, the No.01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus-Riley with Max Papis at the helm, set the fastest time in qualifying, also a Daytona Prototype track record, with a best lap of 1:30.962 seconds (111.607 mph) to take the pole position in Sunday's Lexus Grand American 400k. Papis and CompUSA co-driver Scott Pruett will start the race holding a three-point lead (327-324) in the championship over No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley car owner/driver Wayne Taylor.

Adding to CompUSA's success in qualifying at the California Speedway was a sweep of the top three positions on the starting grid by all three CompUSA Daytona Prototype entries. Darren Manning in the no.8 Lexus Riley secured second spot with a time of 1:31.820 (110.564 mph) while Jimmy Morales qualified the no.02 Lexus Riley with a time of 1:32.160 (110.156 mph) for third place.

"To be on pole for the 11th time in 12 races really is a testament to how hard this team has worked all year to stay on top," said Max Papis who sits on the pole for a sixth consecutive race. "Even more important though is to have all three CompUSA cars take the top 3 positions. That's really something incredible and by having our teammates between us and our rivals, it also gives us a little breathing room for the start. We know what a battle it is going to be out there for the race. It is going to be just so tough because so much is at stake for everyone and the no.10 car (starting 5th) as well as the no.4 (starting 4th) and the no.2 cars are right there in the thick of things as well."

"It's just awesome," said Pruett. "It's really something to see the CompUSA cars qualifying 1-2-3 but it certainly isn't a fluke. All three Lexus Riley's are fast and the reason for that can be found in the way this Chip Ganassi Racing team works together. When you can sit six drivers down at the same table with all the engineers, like we have this weekend, and exchange ideas and impressions and work together to make the car better, you see the results on the track. That's what you saw today with all three cars taking the top three spots. We worked as a group for this and we'll work as a group out there tomorrow."

In his Rolex Series debut, Darren Manning is paired up with his Target teammate and IndyCar series 2003 champion Scott Dixon in the no.8 Lexus Riley as a third entry for CompUSA in the season finale.

"The goal for all three CompUSA Lexus Rileys is to start at the front and stay at the front and we're half way there," said Manning who will take the start next to the no.01 CompUSA car on the front row. "It's really something to be able to come in here and be so competitive so quickly. The CompUSA team has done an outstanding and impressive job preparing the third car and the crew for this weekend. There were some serious efforts made by all involved and hopefully they will pay off. I'm happy to be able to contribute to the team as a fresh set of eyes and impression to make the cars even better. I'm very much looking forward to the race. There are a lot of competitive cars out there and a range of speed difference too. There's plenty of overtaking and a lot of strategy with a long race. It's going to be an incredible battle and I'm really very glad to be part of it. I like working with Scott. That's going to be something new for us, the two drivers, so it's going to be good."

Adding to the CompUSA triple threat for Sunday's race are series rookies Jimmy Morales and Luis Diaz who round out the top three in the no.02 CompUSA Lexus Riley. The Mexican duo are still looking for their first career Rolex Series victory, but Morales was pleased with his team's qualifying performance.

"A lot of hard work paid off today by putting the no.02 Lexus Riley third place on the grid," said Morales who along with Diaz have finished races in the top-5 on six occasions including two podiums. "It feels gratifying, especially for our sponsors, CompUSA, Telmex and Good Guys. Right now they can see that we are working really hard. The competitive series we are in, you don't expect to be 1-2-3, especially when you are running for the championship. I think it was an extremely good effort for the Chip Ganassi crew. They are the ones that really brought us where we are. This is only the beginning. Luis and I will certainly have our hands full as well be the ones fighting and trying to hold off the 10 car. It really should be exciting but I expect a very tough but clean battle throughout the race. We'll battle hard as we always do but this race will have a little extra intensity because if we can help our teammates we will. If they can win, it means we win as a team and that is the goal."

"This was a big day for us," said CompUSA team owner Chip Ganassi. "It was fantastic to see our CompUSA team qualify 1-2-3. Everyone has worked very hard for this and I'm very pleased with everyone's efforts. Max (Papis) and Jimmy (Morales) really stepped up to the plate and did what they needed to do. Darren (Manning) and his crew did a great job as well assimilating a lot of knowledge in a short period of time and making a real contribution this weekend. I'm proud of what we've done so far but there is still one very big step ahead of us. It'll be nice to see all three CompUSA Lexus Riley's at the front of the grid for the start but it's where we are when the checkered flag comes out that is most important. This Rolex Series has incredible depth in the field and the competition this year has been outstanding. I expect nothing less tomorrow and we'll have our work cut out for us."


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