Skip Barber Racing Alumni Sweep Both Podiums at Daytona

Monday, January 28, 2008

The winning car of Montoya, Rojas et al. at the Rolex 24. Note the Skip Barber decal in front of the left-rear tire; all DP and GT Rolex cars now carry the sticker as part of the Grand-Am/Skip Barber National sanction deal (Click here…)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates racing program became the first team to capture a Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victory three straight years when Rolex Series stars Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti captured the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season opener in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Lexus Riley. The record breaking race was the 46th running of the classic endurance race.

Montoya and Rojas are both graduates of the Skip Barber system.

In a race that featured Grand-Am Rolex Series and Rolex 24 records for car leaders (15), driver leaders (25) and lead changes (60), the Ganassi team stayed out of trouble to complete 695 laps and march to a two-lap victory over defending series champions No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Lowe’s Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, joined by back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and former Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser. Gurney, Fogarty and Johnson are also Skip Barber alumni.

The third place DP team was Penske-Taylor Racing’s Ryan Briscoe, Kurt Busch and SBRS-trained Helio Castroneves.

Skip Barber Racing also swept the podium in the GT class.

Winning was the team of Raphael Matos, Nick Ham (both SBRS), David Haskell and Sylvain Tremblay in the Speedsource Mazda/Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8. P2 went to the TRG Porsche GT3 Cup driven by SBRS grad Andy Lally and teammates Ted Ballou, Bryce Miller and Richard Westbrook. Completing the Skip Barber sweep was third-place Spencer Pumpelly, Tim George, Jr., Bryan Sellers (all three are SBRS), Romain Dumas and Emanuel Collard, also in a TRG Porsche.

The overall DP wins were the second straight for Montoya and Pruett, the first time drivers earned repeat victories in the race since Derek Bell, Al Unser, Jr., and Al Holbert accomplished the feat in 1986 and 1987.

‘‘We pushed very hard,’’ Montoya said. ‘‘Every stint I was in the car, I pushed really hard. It’s a good way to start the year. We all worked; we all did what we need to do.’’

All told, there were close to 75 SBRS drivers – instructors, three-day grads, advanced school grads and Race Series competitors – in the Rolex 24 field. Of the 41 drivers that finished in the top 10 in DP, 16 are SBRS; in GT, SBRS was 12 of 41.

Of the 68 cars that were officially classified, 45 of them — that’s 65 percent — had at least one SBRS-trained driver on the team.

Full Rolex 24 at Daytona results can be found here.

The victory circle ceremonies; you can see Montoya and Rojas just “above” the rear window of the Lexus-Riley.

Here’s the winning GT-class Mazda RX-8 of Ham, Matos, Haskell and Tremblay. The team put the required Skip Barber sticker on the C-pillar.

Finishing second were defending Rolex Sports Car Series series champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, both of whom are Three Day, Race Series and Barber Dodge grads.

The TRG #66 Porsche was second in GT, piloted by a team that included SBRS-trained driver Andy Lally.

The complete GT podium. Of the 13 drivers, six are SBRS alum, including 2003 Skip Barber National champion Rapahel Matos (sixth from left).

Rick Roso

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