|Chip Ganassi Racing leads Rolex 24 at Daytona|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 January 2012 05:23|
Joey Hand put the No. 01 BMW Riley out front when Michael Shank Racing had an extended pit stop with about six hours remaining. IndyCar driver Justin Wilson had opened up a nearly full lap lead over the Ganassi team during a triple driving stint, but MSR appeared to change its brakes when Wilson came in for the driver change.
Hand then moved out front before he was replaced by defending Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett. The team is made up of Grand-Am champions Pruett and Memo Rojas, Hand and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.
The team won last year's race, but appears to be at a horsepower disadvantage this season to the Fords and Chevrolets. MSR's No. 60 is a Ford Riley.
``We're definitely pushing for sure. We don't have quite the straightline speed that those other guys have,'' Hand said. ``But we still have a shot at this thing.''
The second Ganassi entry was four laps off the pace with NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel. The car was strong during the night but went six laps down when the shifter broke while IndyCar's Scott Dixon was driving.
That entry is somewhat of the ``star car'' with NASCAR drivers Montoya and Jamie McMurray, and IndyCar champions Dixon and Dario Franchitti. That group finished second to its Ganassi teammates last season.
Only two Daytona Prototypes were on the lead lap, and the championship-contending SunTrust Racing was knocked out of the race during the first hour on Saturday.
Max Angelelli took the No. 10 Chevrolet to the garage with an engine issue 25 minutes into the race. The team sent the car back out after a few minutes, but moments later Angelelli was back in the garage for good in the 50th running of the prestigious sports car event.
``We've never had an engine problem in all the time we've run the Chevrolet engine program, so this is the first time,'' team owner Wayne Taylor said. ``There was truly nothing we were worried about. In fact, this is probably the one 24 Hour I think we all felt - the only thing we were worried about was traffic, and we didn't have any issues. Really caught us by surprise.''
The engines are made by NASCAR's Earnhardt Childress Racing organization. Taylor said the problem was in the valve train, and was ``catastrophic.''
Angelelli and Wayne Taylor won the Grand-Am championship in 2005, and have finished second in the standings the last two seasons to Pruett and Rojas. The SunTrust team also won the 24-hour race in 2005.
X-Games star Travis Pastrana made his debut in this race with the AF Waltrip team. He's driving with Michael Waltrip Racing owners Waltrip and Rob Kauffman, and Rui Aguas in a Ferrari in the Grand Touring class.
He called driving the Ferrari something that should be on everyone's ``bucket list'' and said he was thrilled to have been added to the team last month.
``Most of the experience that I have is actually in the four-wheel-drive cars,'' said Pastrana, who will race a limited schedule for Waltrip this season in the second-tier Nationwide Series.
``So getting the opportunity to come out here in rear-wheel-drive car I think is very helpful, especially for when NASCAR hits the road courses.''