From the outset, the two Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley cars were the class of the 17 car Daytona Prototype field at the 51st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The No. 01 car was dominant for the majority of the 24 hours and Juan Pablo Montoya did the honors of wrapping up Chip Ganassi Racing's fifth Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Joining Monyota on the winning team as drivers of the No. 01 were Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Charlie KImball.
The race in the DP classification came down to a four-way battle in the last hour between Montoya, Max Angelelli in the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Corvette, the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette driven by Joao Barbosa and AJ Allmendinger in the defending race-winning No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford. The fact that the MSR No. 60 was even a factor was a miracle considering the hole they were in.
Just 40 minutes into the 24 hour marathon event, Allmendinger broke a tie rod and lost seven laps in the pits while the team made repairs. The No. 60 group never gave up though. The team made three of the laps up but then were forced to the garage again after a fueling issue that put them back to seven laps down. The rally then really started for the defending winners. The team would gain a lap back on every caution through the late night and early morning hours and with five hours left in the race the No. 60 was back on the lead lap. Justin Wilson and Marcos Ambrose
then had great runs in the car to bring it to second position when Allmendinger took over with 1 hour and 45 minutes left in the race.
With about 1 hour and 30 minutes left in the race, the caution flag flew up and Allmendinger and the MSR team took the lead from Montoya and the CGR team on pit road. When the race went back green, Montoya battled with the No. 60 for about six minutes before taking the top spot back. The final caution came out with just over 1 hour left and the drivers pitted again. This time the No. 10 of Angelelli got off pit road first then Montoya, Barbosa and Allmendinger.
On the restart with 51 minutes left, Barbosa jumped to the outside of Montoya and drove past him into Turn 1. Allmendinger drove it in deep and got by Montoya as well and got to the outside of Barbosa coming off the next turn. Barbosa did not give Allmendinger the space needed and raced the No. 60 off the track into the grass. Meanwhile, Angelelli pulled out to a lead.
Grand-Am officials then made the No. 9 of Barbosa serve a 60 second penalty for avoidable contact which landed the Action Express Racing team with a fourth place finish one lap down. Meanwhile Allmendinger had to pit to clean grass off the grill of the No. 60 and the MSR team would finish in third.
"I thought we had a decent lead and that we were just going to go out there and drive for two and a half hours," Montoya explained
. "But then you realize there's a caution and another caution, then another caution. I took my time to pass people. When I was told that the 9 [car] was going to get a penalty, I rode behind him for a couple of laps. As soon as he came in, I caught up to the 10 car in half a lap and a lap later, I passed him and drove away."
Montoya was able to use the horsepower advantage that the CGR cars had to quickly take the lead and pull away from Angelelli. Both drivers made pit stops for fuel with less than seven minutes left in the race and Montoya cruised to a 21.922 second victory over the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing team.
For Montoya and Rojas it was their third Rolex 24 victory. For Kimball it was his first. Pruett made history by winning his fifth DP Rolex 24 which has tied him with Hurley Haywood for the lead in the category. It is Pruett's 10th title in all classes which extended the record he already holds.
"This is an incredible day, all the way around," Pruett said
. "To win with these guys, to win with Chip, Telmex and BMW… I've gotten to know Hurley real well over the years by racing with him. Having him there at the end was pretty special."
Tags: Alex Job
, Chip Ganassi Racing
, Dario Franchitti
, david donohue
, Daytona International Speedway
, Daytona Prototype
, Filipe Albuquerque
, Hurley Haywood
, Jamie McMurray
, Juan Pablo Montoya
, Marcos Ambrose
, Memo Rojas
, Rene Rast
, Scott Pruett