Mid-Ohio: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

TEAM: CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and co-pilots Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz VENUE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this Saturday, June 24th (5:30pm ET), on the 2.258-mile permanent road course in Lexington, Ohio. Round 9 of 14 on...

TEAM: CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and co-pilots Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz

VENUE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this Saturday, June 24th (5:30pm ET), on the 2.258-mile permanent road course in Lexington, Ohio. Round 9 of 14 on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season

DOUBLE DUTY: Pruett will flip flop between Daytona Prototypes and stock cars this weekend while competing in the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series road course race of the season at Infineon Raceway this Sunday. Pruett will pilot the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge entry for the Cup race at his home track in Sonoma, Calif. No stranger to NEXTEL Cup racing with 37 career starts, he has had six starts over the past five seasons for CGRFS, producing three top-five and four top-10 finishes. Two of those starts came at Infineon Raceway, with a best showing of third in 2004. In 2005, Pruett drove the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge at Watkins Glen International when he subbed for Sterling Marlin. After a fourth CGRFS-prepared car was unable to qualify for the race due to inclement weather, Pruett stepped into Marlin's car, started 43rd and finished fourth -- marking the highest finish for the No. 40 car in 2005.

MILEAGE PLUS: In all, Pruett will make four 2500-mile trips between Sonoma, Calif. and Mansfield, Ohio, traveling 10,000 total miles this week. Between the NEXTEL Cup Series Dodge/Save Mart 350 (218.9 miles) and the Rolex Series EMCO Gears Classic (200 miles), Pruett will attempt to complete 418.9 miles on the track.

EXHAUST NOTES: Pruett currently leads the Rolex Series in the Laps Led category with 177, followed by Diaz in third with 125...CGRFS engine supplier Lexus leads the Manufacturer Standings 338-325 over Pontiac...CGRFS constructor Riley leads Crawford (367-334) in the Chassis Standings...on the strength of four team wins through eight rounds in 2006 (no.1 and no.02 cars), CGRFS has led 644 of 1740 total laps, or 37%.

AIR DATE: June 25th at 3:00 PM ET on SPEED Channel (TAPE-DELAY)

TEAM POINTS: no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, 287 points (first) DRIVER POINTS: Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz, 287 points (second)

LAST RACE: Watkins Glen, St. 1 Fn. 7 NEXT RACE: June 29th, Daytona International Speedway (finished 6th in 2005)

TEAM STATS: The no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley has three wins (Mexico City, Long Beach, Phoenix), three poles (Mexico City, Long Beach, Watkins Glen) and has finished on the podium in five of eight races in 2006 entering Mid-Ohio this Saturday. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is the most successful team in Daytona Prototype history-- holding records in wins (11), poles (18) and podium finishes (26); while Pruett is the most successful Daytona Prototype pilot ever with career records for wins (10), pole positions (8) and podium finishes (21). The 2004 Rolex Series Championship-winning team also captured the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona this past January.

MID-OHIO HISTORY: In two career appearances (2004-05) in the EMCO Gears Classic, the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley has a best finish of first in 2004, after winning the pole that same year. The car has never finished off of the podium in the event, placing second in 2005...The 2004 edition of the EMCO Gears Classic marked the third career win for the team... To date, the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley has won 10 times in 34 career Grand American starts, a winning percentage of 0.29.

MID-OHIO REWIND: Diaz gridded second in the closed-cockpit of the defending champion no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley, and maintained his status as a frontrunner throughout his stint in the 94-lap event. Settling into the third spot after the green flag dropped over the Daytona Prototype pack, the second-year CGRFS wheelman handed off the Lexus-powered prototype to Pruett in pristine condition after a full course caution on Lap 36. Pruett eased his way into the event on Mid-Ohio's classic 2.258-mile sweeping layout, running every lap behind the pace car before the green flag finally turned him loose on Lap 48. With third position firmly in his grasp, Pruett began playing the fuel mileage game in hopes of getting the squad to the checkered flag on a single pit stop. As Pruett bided his time in fuel conservation mode, the top two cars (no.67 Krohn Racing and no.54 Kodak-Bell Motorsports) eventually peeled off and the CompUSA team caught a break. The no.67 machine was shown the black flag for rough driving on Lap 59, and the no.54 DP had to pay pit road a visit for fuel on Lap 76. Pruett powered forward into P1, but immediately became engaged with Leitzinger's aforementioned no.04 car that was taking no prisoners. A Lap 87 restart followed the race's final full course caution period with Pruett at the point, but the Californian could not fend off the hard-charging no.04 car in Turn 1. Pruett stood his ground over the final seven tours of Mid-Ohio, often sticking a nose in here and there as he mimicked the lead car. In the end, the Midwest crowd got their money's worth with a four-car, nose-to-tail duel to the finish, with CompUSA finishing second.

ROUND 8 RECAP: After starting on pole position per the Rolex Series team points queue, the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley finished the grueling Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in seventh in what was a difficult race to call for engineers and drivers alike. Pruett started the six-hour enduro, immediately fighting a car that was challenged for straight-line speed and complemented by an unpredictable rear end. The 2004 Daytona Prototype champion weathered the storm, logging 38 tours of the 3.4 mile circuit before the day's first driver change for Luis Diaz. A determined Diaz ran a cautious stint that concluded on Lap 75, and Pruett regained the helm in 13th with an uphill battle ahead. He managed to keep his nose clean over the final 79 laps, but the deciding factor in the race came down to tire choice. As the mist turned to rain and the dry line continued to blur to a wet one, the team teetered between choosing treaded or slick Hoosier rubber as the race fell out of their hands. Fortunately, CGRFS managed to run an incident-free event, one which finished with Pruett behind the wheel, driving to a seventh-place result. Pruett and Diaz temporarily slid four points out of the Driver point standings with 287 (291, Jorg Bergmeister), but maintain the Team category lead, 287-280 over the no.19 Daytona Prototype as the series enters Round 9 of the 14-race schedule.

CGRFS QUOTEBOARD

SCOTT PRUETT

"The relationship I've had with Chip and the whole Ganassi organization over the past few years has been outstanding, and I love the balance of running the Rolex Series with the NEXTEL Cup races. We've had a lot of success this season in the Daytona Prototypes already, but a personal goal of mine has always been to get a NASCAR win under my belt. The Coors Light crew and I have somewhat of a positive history together, finishing fourth at The Glen last season after starting dead last. It will definitely be a hectic weekend traveling back and forth from Ohio to Sonoma, but I'm up for the challenge. Let's go racing."

LUIS DIAZ

"I think this weekend will be difficult because we struggled a bit here before in our last test. It always takes a lot of hard work from the whole CompUSA team, and the good thing we know is that we've showed a lot of speed here at Mid-Ohio in past races. Scott will be busy traveling back and forth from Sonoma, so I will have to step it up and make sure the car is where it needs to be."

-www.chipganassiracing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Sterling Marlin , Scott Pruett , Luis Diaz , Jörg Bergmeister , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing