Posted January 27, 2013 on AP on Fox
The Rolex 24 at Daytona turned into a battle between defending champion AJ Allmendinger and two-time race winner Juan Pablo Montoya as Chip Ganassi's chances to return to Victory Lane were down to one car down the stretch. Montoya's BMW Riley had the clear horsepower advantage over Allmendinger's Ford, which came back from seven laps down twice in the 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. Ganassi made a slight change to his lineup this year after both his teams failed to make the podium last season, and the switch sent Montoya back to the No. 01 team he was with for victories in 2007 and 2008. The Colombian was positioned to close out the race against Michael Shank Racing workhorse Allmendinger, who drove the No. 60 to victory last year. Out of the mix was Ganassi's No. 02 ''star car,'' which dropped out with a mechanical failure with roughly four hours remaining in the twice-round-the-clock race at Daytona International Speedway. The car had fallen seven laps down when Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray hit the wall exiting pit road after an early morning driver change, but clawed back to only two laps down as the race headed into the final stretch. But with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti behind the wheel, the car lost drive and came to a stop on the course. It brought out a full-course yellow, and Ganassi used the caution period to change the brakes on the No. 01 car. Rival team owner Wayne Taylor, whose car was running in the top four and on the lead lap, then intimated Franchitti deliberately stopped on the track to aid his teammates. Franchitti bristled at the accusation, and angrily suggested Taylor worry only about his own team. ''Tell Wayne to shut up,'' the four-time IndyCar champion said. ''We were concentrating on getting our lap back.'' Montoya stood nearby, offering condolences to the drivers he teamed with the last three years at the Rolex. McMurray was admittedly ''deflated'' over the mistake that put his team in such a big hole. His crash affected the car's alignment, which could have played a part in the later mechanical failure. ''It's hard. This is different than crashing in a regular event,'' McMurray said. ''When it's just you, it's not the same as having three other teammates and the amount of people we've had down here for testing. It is very embarrassing, very humbling, very heartbreaking to be the guy that does that. You don't want to be that guy.'' Meanwhile, the Shank team was celebrating being in position to race for the victory. Allmendinger fell way behind in the first hour after breaking a left-front tie rod, and the time needed to repair the car dropped them seven laps off the pace. But cautions and strong driving from Allmendinger, NASCAR's Marcos Ambrose, IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, and Grand-Am regulars John Pew and Ozz Negri, who had a cast removed last week on his broken right leg, put the defending champions in position for at least a podium finish. Allmendinger vowed to go down swinging. ''I'm going to lay it all out on the line,'' he said right before climbing into the car for his final drive. ''They're gonna have to drag me out of this race car.'' Wilson, who turned a triple stint right before handing off to Ambrose, said the entire team was battling for team owner Shank. ''It's funny to watch him, if something goes wrong you see it on his face and you don't want to be the one to disappoint him,'' Wilson said. ''He's so emotional, and we just want to make him proud.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Ganassi golden again at Rolex 24

Chip Ganassi continued to make magic -- and history -- at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. Juan Pablo Montoya held off Max Angelelli to deliver Ganassi a record-breaking fifth Rolex 24 at Daytona victory. The Chip Ganassi Racing team's accomplishment also enabled Scott Pruett to secure his fifth overall Rolex win to tie the record held by Hurley Haywood. The victory...

EGR looks for big '13 after Rolex win

In 25 years of racing, Felix Sabates says 2012 was his worst season. The co-owner of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing jokes that "gremlins from Mars" must have invaded both of the team's NASCAR Sprint Cup cars because no matter how they adjusted the vehicles, the drivers simply weren't competitive. Not only did Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya fail to win a race...

Chip Ganassi team wins Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Scott Pruett tied Hurley Haywood's record of five Rolex 24 at Daytona victories Sunday, helping Chip Ganassi Racing return to Victory Lane in the prestigious sports car race. A slight lineup change and a dominating performance in the twice-around-the-clock race earned the No. 01 team another celebratory Rolex watch. Three-time defending Grand-Am...

Ganassi team shakes up lineup with Montoya move

(Eds: APNewsNow. With AP Photos.) By JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer Off the podium a year ago, Chip Ganassi Racing returned to the Rolex 24 at Daytona determined to collect another victory watch. But the blueprint for getting back to Victory Lane required a shake-up. Juan Pablo Montoya was moved from the No. 02 car - sometimes referred to as the ''star car''...

Juan Pablo Montoya comments on winning Rolex 24 at Daytona

The #01 Telmex/Target BMW driven by Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, JPM, andCharlie Kimball win the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Juan Pablo Montoya delivered in the clutch, holding off AJ Allmendinger to win his 3rd Rolex 24 at Daytona.  He was teamed with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to give Ganassi his 5th Rolex 24 win. "It was...

Notes: INDYCAR drivers take over podium at Rolex 24

A familiar team was on top of the podium at yesterday Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Chip Ganassi celebrated his fifth Rolex win as a car owner, as his No. 01 team -- which featured one of his IndyCar drivers, Charlie Kimball -- took the checkered flag. Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett also contributed behind the wheel...
Motor Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.