Rolex 24 Win Completes Ganassi’s “Chip Slam”

by James Broomhead

It was a Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates win for the record books.

The win completed the first ever “Chip Slam” as Ganassi added the Rolex 24 at Daytona title to the Indy 500, Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 victories from the 2010 NASCAR and INDYCAR season. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas – member of the Rolex 24 winning squad – also gave Ganassi last season's Roles Series title.

Pruett and Rojas – together with Graham Rahal and Joey Hand – led home a 1-2 finish for the team at the of a dominant performance. Hand – drafted into the team for the race – led 116 of the 231 laps led by the no.01, the best individual tally of any driver in the race.

However, it was a tiny mistake by Hand that put Pruett on the wrong end of a 52 second deficit after he clipped a tyre exiting his pit stall.

“I was at ramming speed,” Hand describes the charge back towards the front. “I was a little bit ticked off at the call, and so I just tried to put my head down and get as much back. I knew if I got a lot of it back that I could get — that Scott was getting in next, I knew he would definitely seal the deal. I just wanted to make sure we were in the hunt and able to have something for it.”

Hand's faith in Pruett was well placed and the veteran road racer took the checkered flag for his fourth overall – and ninth class – Rolex 24 win putting himself in the same bracket as Pedro Rodriguez, Peter Gregg, Rolf Stommelen and Bob Wollek. It was also the fourth consecutive win for Pruett and Rojas in Rolex competition, adding the win at Daytona to success in the final three races of 2010.

The result also added more to Pruett's personal records – a 61st Grand-Am podium for him personally and 19th win for the combination of he and Rojas. Both series records.

Pruett won by just two seconds after a one lap dash following a late caution period, Scott Dixon bringing the no.02 car home for teammate Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

“I think that, for all of us, it's really quite amazing what Chip's done,” said McMurray, who drives for Ganassi's NASCAR squad. “Chip was known for his INDYCAR program for a long time, and the NASCAR program wasn't really where it needed to be. And then the GRAND-AM program was winning championships, and I feel like the NASCAR program's as good as it can be right now—doing really well everywhere. To come back and not only win this, but to have a one-two, it's really amazing what he's been able to do.”

Ganassi himself was humbler in the face of his achievement.

“I don’t drive the cars, I don’t change the tires, I don’t work on the engines, and there are a lot of great competitors that it takes to make up a team. I’m just the guy that gets to stand up here and talk about it. You’re just really fortunate to be in any sport or any business or any endeavor with a group of people that Felix and I are as lucky to have working for us, driving for us and being a part of the team, It’s a great thing to be a part of a group of people that want to be a team, and they want to excel and they want to do well. That’s a great thing to be a part of in life.”

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