24 May 2004
Grand Am: Lexus gets first win with Pruett, Papis.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series had its fourth different winner in as many races, as Scott Pruett and Max Papis co-drove the #01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley to the first-ever victory for a Lexus-powered Daytona Prototype in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
The #01 led six different times for a race-high total of 128 laps, and Pruett claimed the lead for the final time from fourth place on lap 175 when David Donohue spun the race-leading #58 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar into the Turn 8 gravel trap under pressure from Jan Magnussen in the #27 Doran Lista Racing Lexus Doran. Magnussen and third-place Oswaldo Negri Jr., in the #6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran, made their final pit stops as the full-course caution flag came out. Pruett, who pitted for the final time 11 laps earlier, stayed on the race track and retook the lead.
Pruett pulled away from defending Rolex Series champion Terry Borcheller in the #54 Kodak Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran and the rest of the field on the ensuing restart and was never challenged over the closing laps. Borcheller eventually surrendered second place to Magnussen, and the race finished under caution after six hours and an even 200 laps when John Lloyd made contact with the Turn 4 barrier following an off-course excursion on Lap 197. The triumph also moved Pruett and Papis into the Daytona Prototype championship lead at the season's one-third distance.
"It was great for Chip Ganassi Racing, for Lexus, for CompUSA," Pruett said. "The first win is always the most difficult to get and always the sweetest. Max did a great job, the guys did a great job, and the car never missed a beat. The car was so much fun to drive and this is a fun track."
The win was the first-ever in Rolex Series competition for Pruett and the Ganassi team, and was the first Daytona Prototype triumph for Papis.
"This win is fantastic," exclaimed Papis. "To give the first win in Grand American racing to (team owner) Chip (Ganassi), Lexus, and CompUSA is wonderful. We really wanted this one very bad. Winning four consecutive poles was great, but we knew that we had the speed to win and it was just a matter of putting it all together. This win a true team success."
"Obviously, we've won a lot of poles and we've had a good season so far, but we hadn't brought a victory home," Ganassi added. "That's what racing is all about."
Magnussen and co-driver Didier Theys finished second for their best finish of the season and the team's best finish since a second-place run in the Grand American Champions Weekend at Daytona International Speedway to close out the 2003 season. This was Magnussen's first appearance in the #27 since the Grand Prix of Miami in February, and was just his second appearance ever in Grand American competition.
"I'm happy for the team," Magnussen said. "It didn't look like we'd get on the podium for a while. Obviously, I'd like to win, but second is good, and I had no trouble with anybody today. We had some damage to the left front, and the Crawford - I think it's the #4 - he ran out of fuel or something and just stopped in front of me. We worked through all sorts of tire compounds. We really chased the track today. Our Lexus engine was very good. I'm glad we're on the podium. It was a hard-fought race all the way. You were always fighting with somebody."
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