DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 26, 2015) – Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ (CGRFS) No. 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost and No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Target Riley Prototype entries finished first and seventh, respectively, in the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway. The race marked a record sixth Rolex 24 At Daytona win for CGRFS in just 12 attempts.
The No. 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley, driven by Team Target drivers Scott Dixon and Kyle Larson, alongside Verizon IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray, qualified second for the 24-hour endurance race. The No. 02 went to the front early and took the lead on lap one of the race, maintaining the top spot for the majority of the first four hours. After a splitter change during the late afternoon hours caused the No. 02 to go one lap down, the team was able to recover the lost time and eventually regained the lead. A late full-course caution saw Dixon hold off the No. 5 Action Express Racing entry to go on to finish first –1.333 seconds in front of second place.
The No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Target Riley Prototype contended in the top-five overall for the majority of the 24-hour race. Five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona Winner Scott Pruett, 2011 Winners Joey Hand and Charlie Kimball, and CGRFS development driver Sage Karam saw trouble in the later portion of the race when a late pit stop from second place for a mechanical issue overshadowed the team’s finish. The team proved to be strong in the early stages of the race with Karam making a three-wide move for the lead on a restart. During the final two hours of the race, Hand drove the car to the garage from second place overall, subsequently ending the day for the No. 01 team who finished in the seventh position overall after the team calculated they could not make up any more positions given the time remaining in the race.
Chip Ganassi: “It starts with Felix, my partner, and it starts with Mike Hull. No story about any records at this team would be complete without mentioning their names in the same breath, it’s that simple. I don’t put the teams together, I don’t change the tires, and I don’t build the engines. I’ve said this before, I don’t do the pit stops, Mike Hull makes all that happen. He’s my brother from another mother, I guess. It’s a great honor.”
Scott Dixon: “I think for all of us, it’s such a team event. It’s 24 hours, we have a mix of team personnel from the different teams that Chip and Felix have. Then the driver combination, too. I think you get to the point where you just want to be the best you can for everybody on the team. Whether it’s the INDYCAR side or the NASCAR side, it might be your call at the end and you’re going to be in a race for the win, but all of us up here have had a lot of fun the last two years. I’ve had a lot of fun coming here, but I’ve only had the chance to win it once before now. Today, the last two days, I should say, were a lot of fun and the car was very consistent and I think we had good speed. Everybody pulled their weight. Everybody did what they needed to do. That’s what gets you through this 24 hours. Everybody kept the car in one piece. You have to be there in the end. You have to try to look out for the car so you have the speed in the end to try to compete for the win and we definitely had some obstacles. The 5 car had been very quick and the 10, I thought was going to be the one to beat with strategy. I can’t emphasize how big of a team effort it is. It’s not one person who wins this race, it’s everybody involved. This weekend, everybody on the 02 team did their best job and that’s obviously enough to get a victory.”
Jamie McMurray: “I saw Chip walk in here just a second ago, and I told him after the race was over, we have shared some of the most special memories of my life together, some of the greatest days, with the exception of getting married and having kids. I've shared a lot with Chip Ganassi and Felix. It's been great. Victory Lane at Daytona has been very special for us with the Daytona 500, and this is a big deal for me because these cars are so much different than what Kyle and I typically drive.”
Kyle Larson: “Daytona has never really been nice to me, so to get a win is a big thing. I never thought I’d have the chance to race this race. Everything I’d done was on oval tracks and my goal was to make it to NASCAR. I never thought about racing these cars. Being with Chip, you have all of these different avenues you can hope to get the opportunity to run, so thanks to him for allowing me to get on this 02 roster. It feels great. It’s a long race and I thought I did a good job last night, then got to do a quick stint earlier today, then Scott was in for three and a half hours, which was amazing. We all had total confidence in Scott and he pulled it out for us.”
Tony Kanaan: “As a driver, you always want to be in the big races. The (Indianapolis) 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hour of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, which (the team) did win as well. For me it was always something that I wanted to do, and for some reason I never had the opportunity. I’ve done it once with Rubens (Barrichello) in the GT class, but to win overall I had to be on a good team. Two years ago when I signed with Chip I knew I had an opportunity – that was the first question I asked, ‘Can I do the 24 Hours?’ Watching Dixon, Dario (Franchitti), (Juan Pablo) Montoya, those guys all those years winning this race, especially getting a watch. It’s been a great journey. This team, we have a lot of fun and we support each other. We felt a lot pressure to win, but we knew we could do it. It means a lot. It’s one more for the resume for sure.”
Scott Pruett: “Overall, what a great team effort and a big win for the 02 car and the Ganassi team. Congrats to Chip, Felix, Ford and the whole team as we had two cars fighting for the overall win for nearly 24 hours. Six victories in only 12 tries is a record I think you’ll see stand for quite some time. For the 01 side, it wasn’t the way we thought this was going to end. We thought it was going to be an epic battle the last three hours with the 10, the 5 and the 02. I’m really just disappointed for all my guys. All the effort and energy that goes into getting here. All the work, all the countless nights of lost sleep. Just all the dedication these guys put in. The engine, I can’t say enough about Ford. The EcoBoost engine ran flawlessly. It was incredible. The good news is we have a lot of good racing ahead.”
The next TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race will be the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, FL on March 21.