Daytona 24 Hours: Ganassi wins via Juan Pablo Montoya's late charge
|By Gary Watkins
||Sunday, January 27th 2013, 20:56 GMT
Chip Ganassi Racing claimed a fifth victory in its 10 years of competing at the Daytona 24 Hours after Juan Pablo Montoya came through to seal the honours in a thrilling final hour.
Ganassi's winning Riley-BMW MkXXVI, which Montoya shared with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Charlie Kimball, briefly dropped to fourth position after the final restart with less than an hour to go.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup star quickly took back third from AJ Allmendinger's Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford and then moved up to second when Joao Barbosa pitted in the Action Express Coyote-Chevrolet to take a penalty for avoidable contact with the MSR car.
Montoya then needed less than a lap to hunt down and overtake Max Angelelli, who had moved into the lead when the Wayne Taylor Racing squad opted not to change tyres on his Dallara-Chevrolet DP01.
The lead Ganassi entry, which was the fastest car throughout the 51st running of the 24 Hours, then pulled away into a 20-second lead. Splash-and-dash fuel stops for the leaders in the closing minutes had no bearing on the overall result.
Angelelli, who shared with Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay took the chequered flag nearly 22s in arrears.
Angelelli claimed that the BMW engine in the Ganassi Riley gave the winning crew a clear advantage and left rivals no chance to fight for victory in the final reckoning.
"What could I do?" he said. "The #01 car was in another league: it was in the A class and we were in the B class."
The victory means that team leader Pruett has now equalled sportscar legend Hurley Haywood's record tally of five overall Daytona victories.
Team boss Chip Ganassi paid tribute to veteran Pruett after the race.
"When you look at Hurley's record and see a name like Scott's up there with it, it is quite a feat," said Ganassi. "Hurley asked me to make sure Scott retires now..."
The MSR Riley-Ford Allmendinger shared with Justin Wilson, Oswaldo Negri Jr, John Pew and Marcos Ambrose ended up third, despite dropping as far as eight laps off the lead.
Last year's winning team was able to fight back onto the lead lap, but an off-road excursion as Allmendinger tried to overtake Barbosa straight after the restart resulted in an unscheduled pitstop to clean out the radiators.
Barbosa, who shared his Action Express car with Mike Rockenfeller and Burt Frisselle, ended up fourth after his penalty.
Audi upset the form book to finish one-two in the GT class with the Alex Job Racing R8 Grand-Am team heading home the APR Motorsport squad's identical car.
The AJR car in the hands of Filipe Albuquerque finished the race with the APR car in the hands of Rene Rast.
Leading finishers - 709 laps:
Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Pruett/Kimball/Montoya/Rojas Ganassi Riley-BMW 24h00m37.699s
2. Angelelli/Hunter-Reay/Taylor Taylor Corvette + 21.922s
3. Pew/Negri/Wilson/Allmendinger Shank Riley-Ford + 55.585s
4. Rockenfeller/Frisselle/Fittipaldi/Barbosa Action Exp Corvette + 1 lap
5. Garcia/Gavin/Taylor/Westbrook SDR Corvette + 12 laps
6. Dalziel/Bourdais/McNish/Popow Starworks Riley-Ford + 13 laps
7. Fogarty/Gidley/Gurney/Law Stallings Corvette + 14 laps
8. Frisselle/Nasr/Piquet Action Exp Corvette + 21 laps
9. Albuquerque/Jarvis/Mortara/von Moltke Alex Job Audi + 31 laps
10. Stippler/Baas/Basseng/Rast APR Audi + 31 laps