Chip Ganassi earns 200th victory with Rolex class win


By Jenna Fryer - AP Auto Racing Writer



Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, celebrates after winning the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, celebrates after winning the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


Ryan Briscoe, of Australia, crosses the finish line in a Ford GT to win the GT Le Mans class of the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, crosses the finish line to win the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In a 24-hour race of attrition, it was only fitting for the most seasoned sports car teams to control the podium at Daytona International Speedway.

Action Express Racing won its third Rolex 24 at Daytona overall title, and Chip Ganassi Racing celebrated the organization’s 200th victory with a win in the GT Le Mans class.

Both two-car teams finished first and second in their respective classes.

The Action Express team of Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi drove Cadillac to the overall victory Sunday (Jan. 28), and it’s other car finished second. It’s the second consecutive Rolex overall victory for Cadillac but came from the team that finished second last year.

Ganassi’s two Ford entries dominated the GT Le Mans class and defended last year’s victory.

The team of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon won and defeated its sister car, which was the defending class champion. The car of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais finished second.

Ganassi, the grand marshal of this year’s race, now has eight wins in 15 Rolex appearances. His teams won six overall titles and now have two class victories. He’s the only team owner in history to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex and 12 Hours of Sebring.

“It was one of the most nerve-wracking races. It’s your race to lose,” Ganassi said. “It’s one thing not to win the race, it’s another thing to lose a race. It was our race to lose and those are the worst races.”

Ganassi didn’t want to focus on the 200th victory and instead highlighted the effort his team put forth at Daytona.

“We just focus on trying to do the best we can today,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about the (rest).”

In the GT Daytona class, GRT Grasser Racing Team won in a Lamborghini — the first for the manufacturer at the Rolex.

The race was clean and fast, except for the traditional attrition of an endurance race. With only four cautions, the event set a record at 808 laps that bettered the mark of 762 laps sent in 1992. The race also set a record with 2,876.48 miles, breaking the mark of 2,760.960 miles in 1982.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso made his debut in a major sports car competition but was saddled by a myriad mechanical problems with his United Autosports entry. The Spaniard’s car finished 13th in class and 38th overall, but he raved about his time in the endurance race and said he was leaning “60/40” toward adding the 24 Hours of Le Mans to this year’s schedule.

“I have a positive feeling,” said Alonso, who drove four stints — the length of almost three F1 races. “We had so many issues with the reliability but nevertheless I am happy, it was very good fun.”

Roger Penske’s return to sports car competition was impressive until the typical attrition of the twice-round-the-clock race took its toll on his two Acura entries. Although Penske remained atop the team pit stand for almost the entire 24 hours, one of his cars was knocked out of contention for the victory when Helio Castroneves made contact with Felipe Nasr as Nasr fought to stay on the lead lap. An alternator issue put the other car in the garage.

The Penske team of Castroneves, Graham Rahal and Ricky Taylor, who moved to Team Penske this year after winning the Rolex and IMSA championship last year driving for his father’s team, finished ninth overall. The entry of Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud finished 10th.

“The race has been amazing,” Penske said. “This is my fishing trip and my golf game.”

Scott Pruett completed the final race of his 50-year career. A five-time Rolex overall winner, Pruett said he’d retire after this race. He carried his weight with his Lexus team behind the wheel, but the car finished ninth in the GTD class.

“It’s been business as usual,” Pruett said of his final race before adding his trademark line: “I’ve got to say ‘Hi’ to my family at home — even though most of them are here.”

Pruett will move into an ambassador role for Lexus, but even at 58 years old, said he’ll be ready to jump in a car if needed this season.

Wayne Taylor Racing had an unusual number of tire problems and retired right after daybreak. Although Continental Tire said teams with issues were being too aggressive and not following parameters set by the manufacturer, a company representative later said only two team issues came from punctured tires. The others have to be addressed, Continental said.

“Based on the issues we had throughout the race and multiple attempts to fix it without a satisfactory result has forced us to withdrawal the car from the race for the safety of our drivers,” team manager Travis Houge said of the team’s inability to defend last year’s overall victory.

With the Taylor entry out of the race and the Penske’s not in contention for the victory, Action Express just needed to make it to the finish and hold off its sister car for the victory. The team of Nasr, Eric Curran, Mike Conway and Stuart Middleton finished second as the team and Cadillac went 1-2 overall.

For the winners, Barbosa and Fittipaldi now have three Rolex watches for overall victories while Albuquerque earned his first. Albuquerque and Barbosa also have class victories on their racing resumes. Their No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac led almost the final 10 hours of the race. Fittipaldi is being replaced by Albuquerque as the full-time driver and will only do the four endurance races on the schedule this year.

“At this stage of my career, this win is very sweet,” Fittipaldi said. “I am not sure how many more of these Daytona races I have left, not like Filipe, who probably has 15 more years.”

For the Ganassi entries, it was last year’s winning car that dominated until the final driver change of the race. The No. 67 car was slightly quicker on pit road and it put Briscoe out ahead of Hand. Briscoe and Westbrook won the Rolex for the first times in their careers, but it is the third watch for Dixon. It was fitting that Dixon was part of the team’s 200th victory — he’s the longest tenured driver in Ganassi history.

“Everybody just wants to win. We come here each weekend to win,” said Dixon, winner of 41 races with Ganassi. “There’s no thinking about just finishing, or finishing second. Everyone thrives on the winning culture of this team.”

TOTAL QUARTZ Named Official Lubricant Partner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Primary Sponsor of Graham Rahal’s Entry at The Toyota Grand Prix in a Multi-Year Deal

Houston, January 31, 2018 – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) names Total Specialties USA, Inc., Total S.A.’s U.S. marketing affiliate, the Official Lubricant Partner of their Verizon IndyCar Series Team in a multi-year agreement.

Total will also be the primary sponsor of the No. 15 IndyCar driven by Graham Rahal in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The sponsorship will see TOTAL QUARTZ become both a strategic brand marketing partner as well as a technical partner across RLL’s IndyCar stable.

Total has a storied history with Bobby Rahal and first served as an associate sponsor of his team during the inaugural 1992 season when Rahal earned his third IndyCar title.

“Across the board Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is known for its superior racing performance and Total is extremely enthusiastic to partner with them,” comments Christophe Doussoux, Senior Vice President, Lubricants for Total Specialties USA, Inc. “We look forward to building on the shared history between Total and Rahal as we embark on this partnership that demonstrates that the track is our lab and the proven performance of TOTAL QUARTZ.”

• Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 entry, is a six-time IndyCar Series winner who over the past three seasons finished in 4th, 5th and 6th place in season-ending standings respectively.

• Rahal is the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history at 19 years of age and is also the youngest pole winner in series history at 20.

“I am very pleased to welcome Total back to the team after many years,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan.

“Reuniting with a world class company like Total, that is not only the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world, but one that also has a long and successful history in motorsports globally, is very exciting. Renewing the relationship with them after having been together for my championship year in 1992 is a real thrill for me personally given our success. It is an exciting time for the company as they expand in North America.

We look forward to helping spread the word and flying the Total colors at Long Beach as the primary sponsor and seeing them on our cars as an associate sponsor for many years to come.”

Currently Total Specialties USA, Inc. is the Official Lubricant Partner of Red Bull Global Rallycross, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Mid-Ohio School, the No. 48 GT Daytona (GT D) class 2016 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing and other Regional racing platforms. In 2018, RLL will compete in their 27th year of open wheel competition starting at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9-11, 2018.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato has returned to the team as Graham Rahal’s teammate. The 2018 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 3 of 17 in the IndyCar Series, will take place April 15.

For more details about the Series, please visit www.indycar.com.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.

In 2018, the team will compete in their 27th year of open wheel competition and attempt to add to their 25 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 30 poles, 94 podium finishes and 1992 series championship.

The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the United SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 17 wins, 23 poles and 68 podium finishes as well as a second place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team recently announced a two-car program in the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series – the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY. The series will debut in the 2018/2019 season as a support series to the FIA Formula E Championship.

About Total

Total is a global integrated energy producer and provider, a leading international oil and gas company, and a major player in solar energy with SunPower and Total Solar. Our 98,000 employees are committed to better energy that is safer, cleaner, more efficient, more innovative and accessible to as many people as possible. As a responsible corporate citizen, we focus on ensuring that our operations in more than 130 countries worldwide consistently deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.

About Total Specialties USA, Inc.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Total Specialties USA, Inc. is a part of the Americas Division for the Marketing & Services Branch of the Total Group. Total Specialties USA, Inc. offers a wide range of lubricant products including TOTAL Quartz synthetic performance engine oils. Our products are sold through a comprehensive network of distributors, direct channels and an online presence. In addition to a growing distribution network and evolving production capabilities, we’re committed to heightening our brand awareness through partnerships in motorsports.

For more information on Total Specialties USA, Inc. visit www.TotalSpecialties.com.

Second Place Finish for Michael Shank Racing at the Rolex 24 At Daytona

The No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 also wins Round 1 of the IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Championship

Daytona Beach, Fla. (28 January 2018) – After months of planning and preparation, completing 750 laps using nearly 1,350 gallons of fuel, and making 52 well-executed pit stops Michael Shank Racing returned to the podium at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

The result of the twice around the clock endurance classic was a sweet one as the team scored a hard-fought second place GTD class finish on Sunday. The team added to the celebrations by winning Round 1 of the IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) Championship for its strong performance all race long.

The team that has racked up three overall podiums and one big win in 2012 at the Rolex 24 in Prototype competition added a GT podium result to that record, building on the success that the team earned last season with the Acura NSX GT3 platform.

The No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 piloted by Lawson Aschenbach, Justin Marks, Mario Farnbacher and Côme Ledogar and the team’s sister car, the No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 driven by Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman and AJ Allmendinger clocked in 24 hours of jam packed action in the 21 car GTD field.

The No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 proved that it was a frontrunner from the very start as it stuck to the bumpers of the top three GTD cars. Legge led the first official laps for the team as the clock struck 12:45am and Allmendinger continued his streak of leading every single Rolex 24 that he has competed in by leading the GTD field for an impressive 25 laps during the overnight hours.

It was an outright battle until the very end of the race with Parente closing out driving duties in the No. 83 machine. After 750 laps of nonstop racing that included a stellar triple stint performed by long time MSR ace AJ Allmendinger, the No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 machine took the checkered flag second in the GTD order.

“I am beyond proud of those guys for getting on the podium,” said team owner, Mike Shank. “The 86-car was fast all weekend and the drivers really worked together well and that combination showed just what they were capable of. They stayed in the front the entire race and had great strategy and it paid off in the end. I can’t explain how proud I am of everyone for their effort to pull this off.”

The No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 had a strong run until a cooling hose in the gearbox came loose just past the seven hour mark, forcing the car to go back to the garage for repair. The team used that time to strategically make a brake change which was planned for later in the event. In an incredible 13 minute turn-around, the team was back out in the mix of competition. Despite being down several laps, the drivers of the 93-car recovered valuable positions, bringing the car back up to an 11th place finish.

“The guys on the 93-car really worked their butts off all race,” said Shank. “I’m disappointed that we had the cooling hose come loose and had to go in the garage; that really put us behind. But these guys never gave up and I can’t ask for much more from them. It was an all-around team effort this weekend.”

The Michael Shank Racing crew will return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition at Sebring International Raceway on March 14th – 17th.

Driver Quotes:

Katherine Legge No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “My first double stint was really good, my second was average. We were also double stinting tires, just trying to get through the night. My last stint was really good, apart from the incident with the prototype. I don’t think we had the straight line speed to fight with those guys so what we achieved was like a victory. I’m happy to be on the podium but gutted not to have won. I’m proud of the whole team and all of the drivers – it’s been a very long 24 hours.”

Alvaro Parente No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “This feels great, especially since we had such a difficult race. We knew we were lacking a bit of straight line speed, so it feels even better. Congratulations to the engineers, to Ryan (McCarthy), to Mike (Shank), to Vince (Forges) and the boys that were on it all the time. They were confident the whole way.”

Trent Hindman No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “The race was really the first time that I got a significant stint in the car and it was sure an awakening for me. I knew the car was going to be hooked up, the Michael Shank Racing guys always do a great job with giving us a fantastic car. Ryan (McCarthy) has been working hard along with our crew guys who have been working to give us the best Acura NSX GT3 that they can. There weren’t many surprises towards the end, we were just chasing track conditions. It has been changing so much between dry to wet to dry and then cloud cover and sun; it’s was hard to keep track of.”

AJ Allmendinger No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “This might be the most tired I’ve ever been. It probably was not a wise call on my part not to run an air hose to my helmet. But this Acura NSX GT3 has been fun to drive. I love Michael Shank and I love this race team. The spotters especially, (Mike) Sweeney and Ben (Waddell), it was a team effort. That last stint, I was starting to get the chills inside the car. But this is what the Rolex 24 is all about: the last four hours you give everything you’ve got. I think the car got damaged when Katherine got shoved off – not a lot, but just enough to lose a little bit of downforce. She wheeled the hell out of the race car all night. Alvaro (Parente) and Trent (Hindman) have been so good, we’re still in it, we’ll see what we’ve got.”

Lawson Aschenbach No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “All in all, I’m happy to get through the event, and I’m happy for my teammates. I’m especially happy for Acura and Michael Shank, they deserve it. Everyone at the team, at Honda Racing and at HPD has put so much into this car so to get a podium at one of the hardest races in the world is a feat. We got 11thh, which is something we can build on for Sebring. I’ve already told my engineer to expect a laundry list! But that’s good – it’s a new car, a new driver and a new team, and we’re going to have to gel together. We had a front running car so that makes me confident ahead of Sebring.”

Justin Marks No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “I’m really proud of this team. They worked hard to get this Acura NSX running well and I think we had a shot at a podium. We had an issue with the gearbox, but we diagnosed it pretty quickly when we got it to the garage and minimized the lost time – I think we were only off track for about 20 minutes. It’s been smooth sailing ever since, but the class is so competitive that it’s hard to make up time. Everyone worked so hard, I know this is the start of a successful year.”

Mario Farnbacher No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “It’s been great with the team this weekend. I’m very grateful for the opportunity. We had a good start, making the decision to switch to dry tires pretty quickly (after the early evening rain shower) which was a good thing. It was tough, doing a triple stint. It’s really hard competition out there, everyone is really close together and no one will give you any space. You fight for every millimeter on the track.”

Côme Ledogar No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3: “The first part of the race was quite nice. We were on the lead lap not far away from the front, but we had some technical issues that put us nine laps down. We made back some laps but it’s an endurance race, so you have to stay alive. In the end, it’s not just the fastest car that wins, it’s the car that stays out most of the time. But this is one of the best teams I’ve ever driven with.”

The Shank team is based in Pataskala.

Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, celebrates after winning the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/02/web1_119738450-6d3c62d944a84f668481aa2dae69dbb0.jpgFilipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, celebrates after winning the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Ryan Briscoe, of Australia, crosses the finish line in a Ford GT to win the GT Le Mans class of the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/02/web1_119738450-0c02a431ff4c4b86b7a91f9dba8348a1.jpgRyan Briscoe, of Australia, crosses the finish line in a Ford GT to win the GT Le Mans class of the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, crosses the finish line to win the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/02/web1_119738450-06f98532d3da48da960e50922784ebbe.jpgFilipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, crosses the finish line to win the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/02/web1_michael-shank-acura-daytona.jpg

https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/02/web1_katherine-legge-1-.jpg

By Jenna Fryer

AP Auto Racing Writer

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org

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