GANASSI LEXUS CLINCHES CHAMPIONSHIP; LEXUS DRIVERS PRUETT/ROJAS WIN HISTORIC DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP MILLVILLE, NJ (Aug. 31, 2008) -- Despite a Thursday testing crash that forced the team to miss every session prior to the race, the ...
GANASSI LEXUS CLINCHES CHAMPIONSHIP; LEXUS DRIVERS PRUETT/ROJAS WIN HISTORIC DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
MILLVILLE, NJ (Aug. 31, 2008) -- Despite a Thursday testing crash that forced the team to miss every session prior to the race, the #01 Telmex Lexus driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas drove up through the field to finish ninth in today's Supercar Life 250 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park and clinch the Rolex Sports Car Series team and drivers championships.
The championship is the third for the Chip Ganassi Racing team in the last five years and it marks a record eighth American sports car championship for Pruett -- and his second Rolex Series title to go along with three runner-up finishes.
Pruett's Thursday crash, which happened while cars were trying to avoid a GT car that had gone off track, resulted in the primary #01 Lexus being destroyed and Pruett taking a trip to a local hospital. But Pruett returned with a clean bill of health a few hours later and the team immediately went to work on a plan to take to the track for Sunday's race.
The decision was made that afternoon to head back to Indianapolis and prepare the team's older back-up chassis. The truck arrived back in Indianapolis at midnight Thursday night and the team went to work at 5 a.m. on Friday morning....16 hours later, the car was assembled and ready to go. At 7 a.m. Saturday morning, the car was loaded for transport back to the Jersey shore where it arrived late afternoon that day.
Starting from the back, a still-sore Pruett climbed through the field, ultimately reaching as high as second-place just past the midway point of the race. He eventually pitted out of the fourth position and Rojas rejoined in 10th. Knowing he needed only to bring the car home to win the title, the Lexus driver carefully maneuvered around the race-track on the way to the eventual ninth-place finish.
While it's guaranteed that at least one of the Lexus-powered drivers will take the driver's championship, they will both need to compete 30 minutes of track time at the season finale to share the title. They will take an insurmountable 38-point lead into that event.
- With the two championships clinched today, it marks the fifth and sixth titles for Lexus in Rolex Sports Car Series competition.
- Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have clinched the Rolex Sports Car Series driver's championship for the team. It's still possible that one or the other could win the title outright if they both don't complete the Rolex Series 30-minute minimum per driver to earn points.
- With Scott Pruett expected to start the Salt Lake City event, he will clinch his record eighth American sports car title. He's previously won titles in IMSA GTO (1986, 1988), the IMSA GT Endurance (1986), Trans-Am (1987, 1994, 2003) and Rolex Series (2004 and 2008). He also has a record seven Rolex 24 at Daytona victories.
- Memo Rojas can become the first Mexican driver ever to win a major U.S. championship simply by finishing the 30-minute minimum for points at Salt Lake City.
Memo Rojas, #01 Telmex Lexus: "The whole Ganassi team just did a great job. Traveling back to Indy and working 16 hours in a day to get the other car put together just to get back here and race is incredible. I have to admit, we had a lot of anxiety this morning, not knowing what to expect today and to overcome all of the adversity and win a championship, really says something about these guys. I'm just really happy right now."
Scott Pruett, #01 Telmex Lexus: "It's awesome. I'm a little sore right this second, but I just can't say enough about the whole Ganassi team, Lexus, Telmex, of course, Memo. Just a fantastic job to rally back from what started off as a horrific weekend. To do what we've done all season long, it's just awesome. That's the heart and soul of Ganassi. It's all the guys, it's a team effort. It's everybody pulling together. It's late nights. It's the desire to become champions. And in no short order, with Lexus and all their help and support and moving engines around while everything is taking place, it's just been fantastic. I'm beat up and I'm sore. I feel like somebody's been punching me in the ribcage, but my wife's been hearing taking care of me and now I'm really looking forward to a couple weeks off to enjoy it."