DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Winning one 24-hour sports car race takes a combination of a fast reliable car, skilled drivers and a good helping of luck to avoid all the possible pitfalls.
Chip Ganassi Racing is bucking the odds, going for four in a row in this weekend’s Grand-Am Rolex 24. But it wouldn’t be wise to bet against the elite two-car team.
“Eighty percent is preparation to get you to victory lane,” said Scott Pruett, who has been part of the past two Daytona wins in a Ganassi Lexus Riley.
“A lot of it happens before you even get to the racetrack,” the reigning Rolex Series champion said. “We as a team started working three weeks after the end of last season. Literally, our focus has been the Rolex 24 since the first week of November.
“We know all the parts and pieces and everything we would have thought might be a potential weak link from the year before, we’ll go through and redo. Anything on those cars that we feel that potentially could cause us grief during the 24, we fix.”
That’s why Pruett, along with usual Grand-Am driving partner Memo Rojas and NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya, are favored to battle the other Ganassi team entry co-driven by reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, former IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and former Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd for the win.
It was Pruett, Montoya, Franchitti and Rojas who combined to win here last year, while Pruett, Montoya and Salvador Duran won it for Ganassi in 2007 and Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears started the streak in 2006.
The grueling twice-around-the-clock race will start today at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on the 3.56-mile road course that snakes through the infield at Daytona International Speedway as well as using about three-fourths of the high-banked NASCAR oval.
David Donohue, son of the late driving great Mark Donohue, won the pole in record fashion on Thursday in a Porsche Riley that will be co-driven by Buddy Rice, Darren Law and Antonio Garcia.
The top 10 qualifiers were separated by just 1 second – a distance of about 40 feet over one lap. Pruett qualified the No. 01 Lexus sixth and Dixon was eighth in the No. 02 Ganassi entry.
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