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Pruett, 01 Car In Odd Position At Lime Rock

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 27 2013

The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing TELMEX car will be chasing a fourth-straight championship this weekend at Lime Rock. Chasing it from behind. (File photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Rolex Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Scott Pruett isn’t crazy about the position in which he and his Chip Ganassi Racing team find themselves heading into this weekend’s Grand-Am Rolex Series season finale at Lime Rock. And he’s not crazy about the way he feels they got there.

But Pruett also knows that come late Saturday afternoon, he, co-driver Memo Rojas and their CGR TELMEX Daytona Prototype operation could relegate all of that to a footnote to what would be their historic fourth-straight Grand-Am championship.

“Our focus is simple,” Pruett told RacinToday.com Friday during a telephone interview. “We go in and we look to do everything we can to win the race.”

A victory in the Championship Weekend Rolex event would be the third of the season for the Ganassi No. 01 BMW/Riley. It would be the 42nd for Pruett with Ganassi. It would be the 28th for the Rojas-Pruett duo.

However, it might not be enough to win the team’s sixth overall series championship.

As opposed to the last couple years, the Ganassi team will not head into a season finale with the points lead. It will fire its engine on Saturday eight points behind the Wayne Taylor Racing duo of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor.

Even if Pruett and Rojas win, all the Wayne Taylor team has to do is finish fourth or better to end Ganassi’s three-year streak.

Pruett opted to not roll out any the better-to-chase-than-be-chased cliches Friday. He would prefer, he said, to be entering the finale in command position.

“I’d rather be on top,” Pruett said.

And on top is where Pruett thinks he and his team should be – and would be, had it not been for what he thinks was a mistake on Grand-Am officials’ part at the event in Detroit on June 1.

The No. 01 was leading the points and seventh on the starting grid when the cars headed to green at the Belle Isle track. Three turns into the race, Rojas was run into the wall by first-year driver Gustavo Yacaman.

The Ganassi car was wrecked so badly that its day was over.

The move by the Michael Shank Racing driver was bad enough for Pruett. But then there was a decision by series officials.

“Being taken out in Detroit by a rookie driver on the first lap and Grand-Am made the decision to give us no drivers’ points which goes against what they have done in the past, that didn’t make any sense,” Pruett said.

“I’m having a hard time shaking it off. When you feel like a bad decision has been made, and I don’t care if it’s the 01 car or the 10 car (of Wayne Taylor Racing) or anybody else, when you look at past races, like in Daytona when they gave the 10 car driver points when they didn’t make it a half hour, when they gave the 60 car last year at Indianapolis when they gave them driver points when they didn’t make it a half hour, the standard had already been set. And the fact that Grand-Am did not give our car back to us to get repaired, then I feel like it was manipulated by the governing body.”

As racing heads into its final weekend, the Ganassi team sure could use some of the points that they feel officials took away from them.

Not only is the 01 eight points back at Lime Rock – a road circuit that has been the site of Ganassi problems in the past – it is trying to catch a Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette that has won the last two events.

The plan will be to apply pressure and utilize experience for the Ganassi team.

“For us,” Pruett said, “it will be business as usual. We’ll look to do whatever we can to win the race. They (Taylor and Angelelli) have to finish fourth or better, and for us to win, for them to lose the championship. And it’s a whole different view when you’re trying to manage the championship than when you are coming in and trying to overtake the leaders.

“It’s a different strategy than they are used to and it’s really not that difficult for us. It’s really very, very simple what we need to do here this weekend. It makes it simple how you approach the weekend.”

Just win.

The race is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. Saturday. It is a timed event – 2 hours, 45 minutes at the 1.53- seven-turn circuit.

In GT:

Andy Lally and John Potter and the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 team, hold a narrow four-point lead over Alessandro Balzan (313-309) and Scuderia Corsa entering the Lime Rock finale in the GT class. Lally and Potter scored their first victory of the season in the most recent event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, while Balzan won two races ago at Kansas Speedway in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.

John Edwards and Robin Liddell have a class-high four victories in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro, and enter the finale 11 points behind with 302 points.

Scuderia Corsa and Stevenson Motorsports both entered a second car for the finale. Johannes van Overbeek and Jeff Westphal will pilot the No. 64 Ferrari 458, while ALMS GT points leaders Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia will co-drive the No. 75 Camaro.

Jim Norman enters the race with an 11-point lead over Mazda driver Joel Miller (361-350) in the GX class, and can clinch by driving 30 minutes in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman co-driven by Spencer Pumpelly. BGB Motorsports will clinch the GX title with a third-place finish.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 27 2013
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