Chip Ganassi Racing has taken its place in history after becoming the first team to win the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for three successive seasons.

After 24 hours of racing that included 95 laps under yellow flag conditions, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya came home two laps clear of the nearest rivals after a race held in difficult conditions at the 'World Centre of Racing'.

As the race entered its 19th hour, Pruett led the race after a full-course caution caused by a spin - one of many - for team-mate Salvador Duran in the #02 machine. As racing resumed, the defending champion set about extending his advantage and soon held a lead of just short of 20 seconds of Ian James in the Michael Shank Racing Riley, who had managed to get ahead of Jimmy Vasser in the GAINSCO Pontiac at the restart.

Indeed, the Champ Car driver found himself going the wrong was as he then lost out to Joey Hand in the Ruby Tuesday-backed Crawford Porsche and Joao Barbosa in the Brumos Racing Riley to slip to fifth.

Those five cars were the only ones still on the lead lap, but just behind there was a scare for sixth placed Justin Wilson as he span coming through turn one, although he was able to continue.

In the GT Class meanwhile, TRG led the way, with the #67 Porsche leading the sister #66 machine.

With the lead standing at just under 20secs, Pruett continued to lead the race from James, but the number of cars on the leading lap would soon be down to four when Vasser brought the GAINSCO into pit-lane and behind the wall just before the 18hrs 20mins mark with a gearbox problem. With it taking ten minutes before the car returned to action, it dropped Vasser down the order.

When Pruett pitted in the #01 car, it allowed James into the lead for MSR ahead of Hand and Barbosa, with Juan Pablo Montoya now at the wheel of the Ganassi entry. James wouldn't remain out front for long however, as little more than ten minutes after hitting the front, he suffered a spin which enabled both Hand and Barbosa to move ahead. Further down the DP pack, the Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews team was amongst those in trouble, with Johnny O'Connell having climbed as high as fifth before he was forced into the pits with an engine issue.

A full course caution for debris on the circuit saw the race back under yellows approaching the 20th hour and as the resulting pit-stops played through it was Barbosa who hit the front after he elected not to stop. Montoya was now second, with Burt Frisselle third in the #6 MSR entry. Joey Hand was now fourth for Ruby Tuesday, while Justin Wilson had the second MSR car in fifth. In GT, Sylvain Tremblay now led on his own in the Speedsource Mazda - a lap clear of Dumas' Porsche and just outside the top ten overall.

Before the caution finished, Ganassi had lost its second car after Alex Lloyd suffered a spin and then on the first lap of green flag racing, Barbosa spun coming out of the final turn - handing the lead to Montoya and bringing out the caution once again.

After 20 minutes of cleaning up, the race got back underway with Montoya quickly opening up a lead over Frisselle, with Hand third, Justin Wilson fourth and Alex Gurney fifth. Wilson wouldn't run highly for long however, with a spin in the International Horseshoe damaging the rear of the car and leading to a stop that would leave the car well out of contention.

It led to another caution period at which point a number of teams pitted, although Montoya wasn't amongst them - meaning he lead Frisselle by 13secs when the race got back underway. Third placed Hand though was in trouble, bringing the Ruby Tuesday car into the pits smoking heavily as the 20th hour drew to a close. A blown rear main seal would force the car behind the wall and out of the race.

That retirement put the GAINSCO car up into third place with Kurt Busch fourth for Penske-Taylor Racing and Darren Turner fifth for Krohn Racing. However, only the top two cars were now on the lead lap, with the rest straggling behind.

However, towards the end of the 21st hour came the defining moment of the race as Frisselle hit problems in the #6 MSR entry. Now leading the race after Montoya pitted under caution, Frisselle suddenly pitted himself with smoke pouring from the car after a puncture and suspension failure. For the team it was the end of the challenge, with the resulting trip behind the wall leaving the car more then 40 laps off the pace and outside the top ten.

Montoya therefore moved back into the lead and had a comfortable lead over Jimmie Johnson in the GAINSCO car, with Turner third for Krohn Racing and Busch fourth for Penske-Taylor, although the pair would swap positions before the race entered its 22nd hour.

At the head of both the DP and GT fields, the win was looking to become a foregone conclusion, with Montoya four laps clear of second placed Alex Gurney in the GAINSCO car and Raphael Matos also well clear of the GT field at the wheel of the Mazda.

Approaching the 23rd hour, the positions at the front were settling down, with Montoya leading Gurney, Helio Castroneves, Nic Jonsson and Michael Valiante. Indeed, there were no changes through the hour as the teams made their final stops and prepared for the run to the flag.

Before that last sprint however there was to be another caution after Ed Carpenter hit the wall in the Vision Racing Crawford - with the field then heading into the final hour of a race beset by cautions that dominated large parts of proceedings.

For Ganassi there was to be no sting in the tail, as Pruett returned to the wheel of the car to bring the #01 car to the flag for the second successive season - giving the team victory for the third time in a row, the first team to achieve the feat.

In the end, GAINSCO managed to close the gap at the front down to two laps by the finish, but in truth, the demise of the #6 MSR car meant the result was never in doubt. Briscoe brought the Penske-Taylor Racing car home four laps further back to complete the podium, ahead of Jonsson in the #76 Krohn Racing entry and Max Angelelli for SunTrust Racing.

Despite its earlier problem, the #60 MSR Riley took sixth, with Oliver Gavin in the second Krohn Racing Riley and Jim Matthews in the #91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews car rounding out the top eight.

Ninth went to the GT class victors, as Sylvain Trembley was given the honour of bringing the #70 Mazda RX-8 to the flag some seven laps clear of the battle for second, with Andy Lally in the #66 Porsche getting the edge on team-mate Manu Collard by less than a second after a race that saw the team forced to deal with numerous over-heating issues on its cars. TRG also took fourth in class thanks to Tim Sugden in the #64 Porsche, while fifth went to the #69 Speedsource Mazda with Lonnie Pechnik at the wheel at the finish.


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