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Pruett and Ganassi Ready For The ‘Chip-Slam’

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 11 2010

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won again on Saturday, this time in Utah. (File photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Scott Pruett became the first three-time Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes champion while co-driving to a record victory with Memo Rojas at the Miller Motorsports Park Saturday.

The duo of Pruett and Rojas extended their record for single-season victories in the Rolex Series by winning their ninth race in the 12-race Rolex season. “It’s been a picture perfect year,” said Pruett, who scored his 31st Grand-Am career victory.

In order for the two Chip Ganassi Racing drivers to be co-champion, each had to drive the minimum of 30 minutes aboard the Telmex Riley-BMW in the 2-hour, 45-minute season finale.

Next up for the Ganassi team will be an attempt to complete the “Chip-Slam” at next year’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. Having finished second at Daytona in January, the team hopes to return and win the race to add the Rolex title to the consecutive victories by Ganassi teams in the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 this year.

“My hat’s off to everybody on the team,” said Ganassi at the post-race winners’ ceremony. “I’m privileged to work with the people on all of these teams.”

In GT, Sylvain Tremblay, the principal of the SpeedSource Mazda squad, fell short in his bid to overtake teammates Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal for the championship. Leading by eight points coming in, the No. 69 Mazda RX-8 survived an early spin by Assentato that dropped the car to 11th in class, but finished sixth with Segal behind the wheel.

Stevenson Motorsports posted the first Grand-Am victory for the Camaro GT-R, sweeping first and second.

The Ganassi team trailed leader Max Angelelli of Sun Trust Racing by 13 seconds prior to the final round of pit stops before a full-course caution bunched the field. That enabled the crew of Pruett to get him out first with a quicker stop. He led for the final 78 minutes despite two additional yellow flag periods that bunched the field.

The Sun Trust team, which fell to third when Angelelli stalled while exiting the pits, finished third behind the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings entry of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. The latter took over second place when the Sun Trust Dallara-Ford was slow out of its pit box.

Ricky Taylor was the class of the field prior to the first round of pit stops, building a 16-second lead over pole winner Rojas after starting second for the team of his father, Wayne Taylor. The younger Taylor aggressively took the lead from Rojas — forced to be careful in order to save the car for Pruett’s mandatory 30 minutes — on the second lap with an outside pass at Turn 1.

The “Red Dragon” Riley-Chevy of GAINSCO fell to eighth when Fogarty’s aggressive outside bid put him in the marbles in Turn 1 at the start.

The No. 57 Stevenson Camaro of Robin Liddell emerged from the first round of pit stops in first place in relief of Andrew Davis. After some strategic off-schedule stops were complete, Jan Magnussen, driving the No. 97 Camaro co-driven by Gunter Schaldach, emerged in second place behind Liddell.

Pole winner Eric Curran and the Marsh Racing Corvette were slowed by a rear wheel problem, forcing the car co-driven by Boris Said out of the lead on the first round of pit stops. Needing to gain eight points, Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito finished fourth in their RX-8, but it was not enough to overtake Assentato and Segal.

“It was a tough race,” said Segal, who got bumped on the final lap while concentrating on just making it to the finish. “But the team, they executed flawlessly.”

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 11 2010
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