ROLEX 24: Ganassi Goes Big with Rolex 1-2
John Dagys, SPEEDTV.com
A costly pit lane mistake could have kept Joey Hand and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing crew from victory in the 49th Rolex 24 at Daytona. But a smart late-race call by the Tim Keene-led crew and a remarkable drive by the BMW factory driver propelled the defending Rolex Series champions to a dramatic down-to-the-wire win and Ganassi’s first 1-2 finish in America’s famous endurance classic.
The No. 01 Telmex/Target Riley-BMW was hit with a 30-second stop-and-hold penalty after Hand hit a tire while exciting pit lane with under two hours to go. Rejoining the fray over 50 seconds behind, Hand had what could only be considered the drive of his life, making up over 30 seconds in his final stint to leader Scott Dixon.
But it was a final late-race yellow with just over an hour remaining, in which the No. 01 car was the only of the leaders to pit to top off fuel, turned out to make the difference as Pruett leapfrogged the No. 02 machine during the final round of pit stops thanks to a short-fill.
While Ganassi racked up its fourth Rolex 24 win, it also marked a few firsts for two of its co-drivers, with Hand scoring his first 24 hour victory and IndyCar star Graham Rahal taking his first-ever sportscar victory--at the 24 Hours of Daytona thirty years after his father won the race in 1981. Memo Rojas celebrated his second Rolex 24 win.
The winning Ganassi machine finished 2.07 seconds ahead of the sister Riley-BMW of Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. 2010 Rolex 24 winners Action Express Racing with its Porsche Cayenne-engined Riley, completed the podium in third.