Franchitti brings Ganassi car home to victory in Twelve Hours of Sebring

The Twelve Hours was the second race of the inaugural season for the International Motor Sports Association's new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Franchitti brings Ganassi car home to victory in Twelve Hours of Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. -- Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas combined to win the 62nd Annual Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday night at Sebring International Raceway, emerging from an electrifying, Prototype class shootout to give Chip Ganassi Racing its first win in America's oldest endurance sports car race.

#1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda: Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Brabham
#1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda: Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Brabham

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

In addition, the victory made CGR -- which was making its Sebring debut -- the first organization to win the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.

A record nine cars finished on the lead lap, blowing away the previous record of three.

A full-course caution, the 11th of the race, tightened the field up with 51 minutes remaining when a car went off track in Turn 10, necessitating a tow. Franchitti fortuitously had pitted the team's No. 01 Ford/Riley DP just prior to the caution, which enabled him to stay out while others pitted under yellow -- and inherit the lead with 34 minutes remaining. Franchitti finished 4.682 seconds ahead of the No. 1 HPD ARX-O3b driven by Ryan Dalziel, who shared the ride with Scott Sharp and David Brabham. The pole-sitting No. 5 Corvette DP co-driven by Sebastien Bourdais, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa finished third

The Twelve Hours was the second race of the inaugural season for the International Motor Sports Association's new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a result of the merger of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series. Ganassi's cars previously competed in the Rolex Series, which did not race at Sebring. Pruett and Rojas were the most dominant team in Rolex Series history; Franchitti was an ALMS star in that series' P2 prototypes.

"It was incredible," said Franchitti. "We couldn't believe we were in position to win. I've won here in the [old ALMS] P2 class but to win overall here … it's certainly the biggest day in my career."

Four classes competed in the Twelve Hours. The other three class champions:

· In the Prototype Challenge class, Colin Braun, James Gue and Jon Bennett in No. 54 CORE Autosport entry.

· In GT Le Mans, the No. 912 Porsche 911 of Patrick Long, Michael Christensen and Jorg Bergmeister.

· In GT Daytona, the No. 44 Porsche 911 of Andy Lally, John Potter and Marco Seefried.

NASCAR Wire Service

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