Papis Takes Daytona Prototype Title with Victory in Lexus Grand American 400k FONTANA, Calif. (October 31, 2004) -- No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Max Papis and Scott Pruett wrapped up the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series...
Papis Takes Daytona Prototype Title with Victory in Lexus Grand American 400k
FONTANA, Calif. (October 31, 2004) -- No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Max Papis and Scott Pruett wrapped up the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype driver and team titles with their victory in today's Lexus Grand American 400k at California Speedway.
After starting from the pole position, Papis jumped out to an early lead ahead of his CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Darren Manning in the No. 8 Lexus Riley and Jimmy Morales in the No. 02 Lexus Riley. Meanwhile, the No. 01 co-drivers' chief rival for the championship--Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley--encountered fuel pickup problems on Lap 7 of the 89-lap race and was forced onto pit road prematurely. The problem ultimately dropped the No. 10 car off the lead lap and effectively ended Taylor's championship bid.
However, the day would not go without incident for Papis and Pruett. On Lap 39, Papis brought the No. 01 onto pit road and Pruett took over the controls, but as Pruett attempted to leave pit lane, the fuel hose was still attached. The ensuing penalties cost Pruett a total of 55 seconds, and he lost the lead to teammate Luis Diaz in the No. 02 for eight laps. Diaz made his final pit stop of the afternoon on Lap 82, and Pruett led the rest of the way en route to the victory and the Daytona Prototype crown.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Papis, who was celebrating his first auto racing championship. "It's really special driving for an organization like Chip Ganassi. Three weeks ago we decided we wanted to get help from the third car and we did it perfectly winning the race and the Championship. We are Champions and it is a special day in my life."
"On the personal side, it's been a very strange weekend. Last week people from (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup team) Hendrick (Motorsports) had their tragedy and I lost some close friends. Five years ago today my friend Greg Moore had his terrible accident that took him away, so this weekend it is something really special for me for many reason. Even when Scott had his problem in the pit stop, it could have been terminal but it wasn't. I felt someone was looking down at me and kept me out of trouble all race long. We didn't work for this championship without the ups and downs."
"That's the way you want to win a championship," Chip Ganassi said. "Winning the race, in order to win a championship that isn't decided until the last race of the season, makes it even more gratifying. I was as nervous as anyone heading into this race. This has been an incredible battle all season long. I've had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. To win our first Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series championship in just our first season is very special."
"We showed determination and a lot of hard work," Pruett said. "We had teamwork all season long. It's nice to win, even sweeter to have a championship. I felt he was sending me out too soon. We pulled out and I immediately stopped and luckily we didn't have any damage. Fortunately for us, our car was superb. I ran a fast, conservative pace.
"I just can't say enough for the Chip Ganassi guys. For the team it was nerve wracking coming into this last race, separated only by three points, that's pretty awesome competition."
The championship came in the first year of Rolex Sports Car Series competition for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing. Team owner Chip Ganassi has previously won championships in CART Champ Car and Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competition.
Despite contact with the No. 63 Stuttgart Performance Porsche GT3 RS of Geoff Escalette on Lap 10 that required extensive repairs, Manning and co-driver Scott Dixon battled back for a third-place result. It was Manning's first-ever appearance in the Rolex Sports Car Series and was Dixon's first Rolex Series race since competing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in February.
Taylor and co-driver Max Angelelli rebounded from the early gremlins to finish fourth in the race, and Angelelli also turned the race's fastest lap (1:31.790 on Lap 80). Rounding out the top five were No. 27 Doran-Lista Racing Lexus Doran co-drivers Didier Theys and Jan Magnussen.
Papis and Pruett wound up 10 points ahead of Taylor in the Daytona Prototype driver standings (362-352) and also brought home the team championship for the No. 01 team by the same margin over the No. 10 team.
The victory also gave Riley the Daytona Prototype chassis constructor's championship, 391-364, over Crawford. The second-place finish by Forbes-Robinson and Leitzinger clinched the Daytona Prototype engine manufacturer's championship for Pontiac by 10 points, 401-391, over Lexus.