Target Chip Ganassi Racing team boss Chip Ganassi admits that he expects a tough battle for victory when the Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off later today.
Ganassi's team will be seeking a fourth successive win in the opening race of the Grand Am Rolex Series season with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya aiming to defend the title they secured last year.
However, with any number of the Daytona Prototype field in a position to fight for honours, Ganassi admits that he doesn't expect it to be an easy battle.
“It's going to be close,” he said. “You try to do everything right as much as possible, but at the end of the day, you've got to have a little bit of luck on your side. We've got our fingers crossed.”
Preparations for the race have been ongoing for some time, with Pruett admitting that the team had been working specifically for this race since three weeks after the 2008 season ended in September.
“For the Rolex 24, 80 per cent is preparation to get to Victory Lane,” he said. “But, there's always that wild card, such as you're just driving around and someone takes you out from behind. That's the potential of this race. It always has been, and always will be.”
Dixon recalled the Ganassi victory in 2006, when the car he shared with Casey Mears and Dan Wheldon took two trips to the garage, where the team made major repairs while losing minimal time.
“This race here is definitely more of a team sport,” he said. “When we won this race here in 2006, it was won in the pits. We had all kinds of mechanical problems and we had to go back to the garage, but this team practices doing brakes changes, gearbox changes so often that we didn't lose much time. They had it all nailed down.
“If that happened in an IndyCar race and they tried to change a brake or something, we would be out of it. This race is a true team effort, and it's definitely preparation. This team prepares really well.”
Two of the Daytona Prototype teams had their times from Thursday's qualifying disallowed due to technical irregularities. Valiante's Pontiac Riley was found to be too wide, while the fifth-qualifying #22 Alegra Motorsports BMW Riley of Ryan Dalziel was found to be too low due to a splitter failure. While Valiante re-qualified and will start 17th, the Alegra team did not participate in second round qualifying and will be gridded 19th.
The lone incident of Rolex Series practice involved Bill Lester, who spun and tagged the wall in the #45 Victory Junction – Orbit Racing BMW Riley he will co-drive with Kyle Petty, Darren Manning and Leo Hendry Jr.