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Dixon Gives Ganassi Racing Victory In The Rolex

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 25 2015

The No. 02 Ford-powered Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing, sister car of the No. 01, came up a winner at Daytona on Sunday.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Scott Dixon tracked down and passed Jordan Taylor with just over and hour to go and went on to win the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

Dixon, driving the No. 02 Ford-powered Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, took the checkered flag at the end of a three-and-a-half hour stint that saw him make up what had been a 6-second lead by Taylor and his No. 10 Corvette Daytona Prototype with two hours to go.

The victory was sealed for Dixon and his team when Taylor had to pit to change drivers with under 10 minutes to go as Taylor was up against the mandated maximum time limit for drivers in the race.

That put the No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype of Action Express in second place and gave it the runner-up finish. Sebastien Bourdais drove the final stint for Action Express.

The margin of victory was 2.67 seconds.

“One position shy,” Bourdais said, “but we’ll take it because from the get-go we never had a perfect car, and we were struggling with it during the whole race. This race is a lot of effort, because you’re pretty much preparing yourself the whole year for it – and everyone that’s here obviously wants to win. The Ganassi boys had a perfect run. Let’s move on to the next one.”

The 10 car of Taylor’s Wayne Taylor Racing, which was co-driven by Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli, finished third. Ricky Taylor drove the final minutes after his brother was pulled.

The victory did not come without excitement and head scratching. Dixon, with an hour and 15 minutes to go, had moved to within .4 seconds of Taylor and appeared to be moving into position to take the lead. But bad luck put him into slower traffic and Taylor was able to add two full seconds to his lead.

But Dixon was able to come back and take the lead during a pitting sequence with just over an hour to go. Taylor stayed with Dixon after the pit stops, staying patient in second place. With 43 minutes to go, the gap between leader Dixon and Taylor was about five feet.

With 40 minutes to go, Taylor pitted for fuel.

Two minutes later, Dixon pitted for fuel. When he emerged his lead had lengthened to over four seconds. Taylor was able to close the gap a bit, but over the final half hour, Dixon was able to keep his lead comfortable.

But with just over 15 minutes to go, an a 4-second advantage over Taylor, a full-course caution brought out the yellow flag. It was during that caution that Jordan Taylor had to pit and turn the car over to brother Ricky for the final minutes.

“Just a miscalculation on drive time,” Jordan Taylor said.

“I haven’t spoken to everyone, but I just know that you can’t drive four hours in a six‑hour period, and I think we were creeping up on that. It was just a small miscalculation, I think, an unfortunate one because we were right where we kind of wanted to be, second place on the restart. I think we had a stronger car on restarts on cold tires, so it was a perfect opportunity to make something happen, but I mean, it’s hard for us as drivers to complain too much because our part of this race is very minor compared to what they have to do. We’ve gone 72 hours now without going to the garage once, without losing a lap, so that’s a testament to our team. We never have anything bad to say about them.”

“First of all, I’m happy to be here in the top-three, especially since as late as Friday we weren’t even sure we would make the race with all sorts of problems,” Angelelli said. “Our guys, our team worked all night and solved the problems and gave us a super, ultra-competitive car both Saturday and Sunday, in the heat and the cold. The car was good and we were competitive, all three of us. We fought like lions and we are now just looking forward to the next challenge, the next race.”

“The result was pretty good, but the way it came about was a little bit disappointing,” Ricky Taylor said. “We had such a strong car, the guys deserved to win this weekend. Coming back and fixing our issues and working through the night – more than one night – is just an incredible effort by all the guys. I just feel bad for them for all that work and, leading so many laps and running up front for so long, to come away with the last car on the lead lap is very disappointing. It was really disappointing, actually. If we had known we could get a podium when the race started with all of the issues, we would have been thrilled. Then again, after running so strong after 24 hours, anything short of a win is a little bit disappointing.”

Sharing the top step of the podium with Dixon were co-drivers Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.

“I saw Chip walk in here just a second ago,” McMurray, who drives one of Ganassi’s Sprint Cup cars, said, “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 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.”

In GT Le Mans, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R passed the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the final two hours to get the class victory. The BMW finished second and the No. 4 Corvette C7.R third.

Driving the winning Corvette at the end was Antonio Garcia.

“Every time you win here it’s very, very special,” Garcia said. “I’ve been chasing this victory since 2009, even if I won it back then. This is a very unique race. It’s the first race of the year, so it’s very difficult to be at 100 percent right away for the team and for the drivers. Everything ran perfect, and as Ryan (Briscoe) said, we just kept our nose clean, and I had the best car to fight on the last eight minutes of the race.”

Briscoe added, “I’ve been coming here since 2005, so yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this place until now. It’s just such a tough race. Jan and I were talking about it before we came in, for both of us it’s the first time we’ve ever done the race without going back to the garage. … I think the key was keeping our nose clean, having a fast race car at the end of the day.”

Garcia won the Rolex 24 overall in 2009 for Brumos Racing. Corvette Racing did not compete at Daytona from 2002 through 2013 before joining the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for its inaugural 2014 season.

In GT Daytona, the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT got the class victory. Dominik Farnbacher was at the wheel for the final stint.

he No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R and drivers Ben Keating, Al Carter, Farnbacher, Kuno Wittmer and Cameron Lawrence had the field covered for much of the Rolex 24 in class. They found a challenge from the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Andrew Davis and Shane van Gisbergen — the two cars combined to lead the final 209 laps of the race — but Farnbacher led the last 49 circuits en route to a 7.588 second victory.

“For everybody in the room and the fans and everybody, we’re not just weekend warriors that are weekend hires,” Wittmer said. “We’re family; we’re more than that. We’ve worked together since 2012, and some of us before that. Yeah, unfortunately our program got pulled, but I think it’s the cooperation of Ben Keating and Bill Riley and some others that were able to retain us family, keep us together and get it going.”

Hollywood actor and avid sports car racer Patrick Dempsey rounded out the top three in the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America co-driven by Madison Snow, Jan Heylen and Philipp Eng. The third-place finish matched Dempsey’s best career finish in the Rolex 24.

“The tremendous support Porsche has given me has allowed this to happen,” Dempsey said. “With Brumos, and their history here, it is such a satisfying experience and we want to thank them for their belief in me and thank them for giving me this opportunity. It means a lot, as there is a real family feeling about it. There is a beauty in this company that is awe inspiring.”

In Prototype Challenge, the No. 54 car of Core Autosports got the win with Colin Braun at the wheel appeared headed to victory but with just under 20 minutes to go, wrecked and started on fire. That gave the victory to Tom Kimber Smith.

“Just the wrong place at the wrong time,” Braun said. “It would be one thing if that was a bold move, a banzai move, but I mean that’s a move that I probably made 150 times throughout the night and never had any issues with it.“

Today’s race marked the sixth Rolex 24 At Daytona win for CGRFS in just 12 attempts (Winning Percentage 50%)

· CGRFS now holds the record for most Rolex 24 At Daytona wins in the 53-year history of the race (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015) – recently tied with Brumos Racing.

· This is the second Rolex 24 win for the No.02 car (2006, 2015)

· With his first win, Jamie McMurray joined AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

· This marked the second Rolex 24 At Daytona win for Scott Dixon (2006, 2015), and the first for Tony Kanaan in just his second start with CGRFS

· This marked the first Rolex 24 At Daytona win for Kyle Larson in just his second Rolex 24 start.

· This win marked Chip Ganassi Racing Teams’ 166th victory

· CGRFS engine manufacturer Ford is ranked sixth on the all-time manufacturer’s victory list for the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for the Modern Era (169 wins)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 25 2015
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