LEXUS CELEBRATES 2006 ROLEX SPORTS CAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2006) -- A first-ever Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Manufacturer's Championship and a series-high seven victories highlighted Lexus' finest season...
LEXUS CELEBRATES 2006 ROLEX SPORTS CAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2006) -- A first-ever Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Manufacturer's Championship and a series-high seven victories highlighted Lexus' finest season ever on the race track in 2006.
When Oswaldo Negri took the final checkered flag at Salt Lake City, it marked the third different Lexus-powered car to triumph in 2006, while four different Lexus teams finished at least one race on the podium and five led at least one race.
"The Rolex Series has become so competitive that this championship is a great testimonial to everyone involved with the Lexus race engine, as well as all of the teams that helped us earn the title," said Bob Carter, Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager. "At any given race, five different manufacturers showed the ability to run upfront and when you beat the likes of Porsche and BMW on the race track, it's a tremendous accomplishment."
In earning the 2006 Manufacturer's Championship, Lexus proved it was capable of winning on all types of race tracks and in sprint races, as well as endurance events. Not only did Lexus win the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona to open the season, but the manufacturer also won the shortest Daytona Prototype event ever run in a sprint race run through the streets of downtown Long Beach as a part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
"The ability to win in any environment typifies what Lexus is all about," said Carter. "It's the power and performance to win the sprint races, plus the quality and reliability to win the toughest endurance races."
While Negri combined with Mark Patterson for the championship-clinching victory, it was Ganassi Racing that dominated the series with six victories on the way to winning the Rolex Series Team Championship with the #01 CompUSA Lexus driven by Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz. The duo won five races and led 514 laps -- a whopping 33 percent more than any other team in the field. In addition to the efforts of the #01 car, Ganassi Racing also found their way to Victory Circle with the #02 entry driven by Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears at the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The ever-improving Michael Shank Racing team had another strong effort in 2006. Along with the Negri/Patterson victory in Salt Lake, the team earned eight top-five finishes, including two seconds and a third. For their efforts, they earned an eighth in the Team Championship, while Patterson was awarded the series' Jim Trueman Award as the top sportsman driver.
In addition to the seven victories, Lexus-powered cars led a series-high 978 laps this season and started from the pole position five times, despite just three cars running with Lexus power-plants for the full season.