Rolex 24 Hours: Ganassi Claims DP Win, SpeedSource Claims GT Win
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The Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates racing program became the first team to capture a Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victory in three straight years when Rolex Series stars Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti captured the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season opener in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Lexus Riley. The record breaking race was the 46th running of the classic endurance race.

In a race that featured Grand-Am Rolex Series and Rolex 24 records for car leaders (15), driver leaders (25) and lead changes (60), the Ganassi team stayed out of trouble to complete 695 laps and march to a two-lap victory over defending series champions No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Lowe's Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, joined by back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and former Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser.

The wins were the second straight for Montoya and Pruett, the first time drivers earned repeat victories in the race since Derek Bell, Al Unser, Jr. and Al Hulbert accomplished the feat in 1986 and 1987.

"We pushed very hard," Montoya said. "Every stint I was in the car, I pushed really hard. It's a good way to start the year. We all worked; we all did what we need to do."

The No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Toshiba Pontiac Riley of Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Kurt Busch scored a third-place finish in Roger Penske's first Rolex 24 effort since 1973, rounding out the podium.

While the No. 01 team led 252 laps, it was clear a race win would have to be earned surviving the rain and slippery track prevalent throughout the night stages of the race. When the checkered flag waved, the Ganassi quartet executed their strategy to perfection and went without the mechanical problems that plagued many of their counterparts.

During the final quarter of the race, a string of bad luck hit many of those front-running machines. The least catastrophic of the bunch came when the No. 99 machine was pulled behind the wall with gearbox problems. But strong pit strategy and speed allowed the team to rally throughout the remainder of the race, making up four of the six laps they lost in the garage area.

"My guess is that if we would have changed the gearbox under yellow instead of green, we probably would have won, but you make your best decisions and run with it," team owner Bob Stallings said. "It was a little bit chaotic. We were all arguing for about 15 minutes on if we should stay out because Jon was in the car and was gaining on Rojas. We left him out there but then the problems started to get worse and we made the decision to switch."

Disaster struck others. With less than five hours left, a broken suspension piece on the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Riley caused Joao Barbosa to spin from the lead in the final turn. The curse hit No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford driver Joey Hand moments later as the No. 23 began smoking while running third. What was originally thought to be tire rub turned out to be a blown engine, erasing the team's efforts that included 59 laps led.
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