View Full Version : Montoya leads team to Daytona endurance victory

01-29-2007, 05:24 AM
Source:AP Auto <p><TABLE WIDTH="90%" CELLSPACING=0 CELLPADDING=0 ALIGN=CENTER><TR><TD><i>Quote &raquo;</i></TD></TR><TR><TD CLASS="quote"><br><FONT SIZE="4"><b>Montoya leads team to Daytona endurance victory</b></FONT><p>DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The only thing that bothered Juan Pablo Montoya on the way to a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway was having to get out of the car.<p>Montoya shared one of Chip Ganassi Racing's Lexus Riley Daytona Prototypes with road racing veteran Scott Pruett and Daytona rookie Salvador Duran. The trio combined for a hard-earned win in the twice-around-the-clock event.<p>"I got out of the car with about two hours left and turned it over the Scott," Montoya said. "That was hard because, at that point, it's entirely out of your hands."<p>No need to worry, though. Pruett cruised to the victory Sunday, his second overall Daytona win and record seventh class victory in the season-opening race.<p>But Montoya was a big part of the win, putting the car in front for the first time just 3 hours into the race and also putting it on top for the final time with just under 3 hours remaining.<p>The win makes Montoya and racing great Mario Andretti the only drivers to have won the Indianapolis 500, an American open-wheel championship, a Formula One race and, the Colombian's latest conquest, a sports car endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.<p>What's next?<p>"I'm back here for the Daytona 500 in a couple of weeks," said Montoya, set to begin his first full season in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. "Hopefully, we can do something about that one, too."<p>Andretti won that NASCAR race in 1967.<p>Ganassi was asked if the win in the Rolex 24 bodes well for Montoya's move back to the U.S. after several successful but unfulfilling years in F1?<p>"It's a good start, I'll tell you that," said Ganassi, for whom Montoya won the CART title in 1999 and Indy in 2000.<p>This is the second straight year that Ganassi's team has won the 24-hour event. Former IRL champions Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon combined with NASCAR driver Casey Mears to win the 2006 race.<p>"This was just a total team win," said Ganassi, the first team owner to win this race back-to-back since Al Holbert in 1986 and 1987. "Al was somebody I wanted to be like when I was growing up and I'm going to think about this for a long time."<p>Montoya, Pruett and Duran covered 668 laps and 2,378 miles.<p>With only three hours to go, three cars were nose to tail for the lead, separated by less than 6 seconds, with Montoya third and battling Scotland's Ryan Dalziel and Italy's Max Angelelli.<p>"It's amazing," Montoya said. "It's incredible after 20 hours there are three cars on the same lap. It was like qualifying every lap. Very exciting."<p>Dalziel, a rookie in the Champ Car World Series, held off the two veterans until he pitted during the 24th hour. That gave the lead to Angelelli, but the former Daytona winner was quickly passed by Montoya and the eventual winners led the rest of the way.<p>During the 25th hour, Pruett took over the cockpit from his Colombian teammate, while Dalziel gave up his seat in the Pontiac Riley prototype to longtime open-wheel racer Patrick Carpentier and road racing ace Jan Magnussen took over the third-place Pontiac Riley for Angelelli.<p>Magnussen managed to put the car also shared by two-time Daytona winner Wayne Taylor and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon into second place. But he wound up third, two laps down, after brake problems sent him on an off-course excursion and forced a long pit stop during the final half hour.<p>Carpentier, also co-driving with Darren Manning and Milka Duno, one of only two women in the 70-car race, finished on the lead lap -- 1 minute, 14.749 seconds behind Pruett.<p>Gordon, who fared considerably better than several other stock car stars in the race, got the full experience in his first endurance race. He spun in the grass on his first stint and drove another stint in a downpour during the night.<p>"I want to be faster the next time so I can help this team be even more competitive," Gordon said, grinning. "But I don't know how I could prepare for the monsoon I was in last night."<p>Prototypes took the first 10 spots, with a Porsche GT3 co-driven by Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Carlos de Quesada, Scooter Gabel and Marc Besseng finishing 11th, 42 laps behind the overall winners. </TD></TR></TABLE><p>1st try at it and wins it. congrats.<p>The second driver next to Mario Andretti to win a sports car race, Formula One event, the Indianapolis 500 and the Champ Car title. <IMG NAME="icon" SRC="http://images.zeroforum.com/smile/emthup.gif" BORDER="0"> <IMG NAME="icon" SRC="http://images.zeroforum.com/smile/emthup.gif" BORDER="0">