Well, the 2011 racing season has officially begun with the running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, California. And of these two events, one was thrilling and the other not so much. But that?s racing as they say.
The Rolex 24 was easily the most exciting twice around the clock event in recent memory. All through the race contending cars would drop down a lap or two, work their way back, drop down, recover, etc. The dynamic of the race kept changing like a pendulum swinging first in one direction and then another. After more than 700 laps around the combination high banked tri-oval and infield road course, a yellow flag for a massive debris cleanup caused the race to come down to a one lap shoot out between Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Pruett and Scott Dixon, with Dixon facing a strong challenge from third place driver Joao Barbossa.
The win marked Pruett?s 32nd in the Grand-Am series and his amazing fourth victory in the Rolex 24. But what made this one even more special was the way it has capped an amazing year for his team owner Chip Ganassi. Ganassi?s teams have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400, and now the Rolex 24 all in the same 12 month period.
Pruett?s co-drivers for the Telmex BMW Riley were Memo Rojas, road-racing veteran Joey Hand and Indy Car driver Graham Rahal. The win was also special for Rahal coming 30 years to the day from when his father, Bobby, also won this race.
Chip Ganassi had a powerful group of co-drivers in the second place car. Between them, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray represent four Indianapolis 500 wins, five Indy Car series championships, a Formula 1 win, a Daytona 500, and Brickyard 500 win and more!
The third place finishing Action Express Porsche Riley was co-driven by the aforementioned Barossa, Terry Borcheller, Christian Fittipaldi, Max Papis and J.C. France.
The GT class was won by The Racers Group Porsche GT3 driven by Andy Lally, Steve Bertheau, Spencer Pumpelly, Brendan Gaughan and Wolf Henzler.
While the road racers were grinding through the night on the East coast, some of NASCAR?s best and brightest were racing and wrecking around the half mile showplace speedway in Irwindale on the West coast.
2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Jason Bowles, from Ontario, California won the 225 lap event by a half second over 2010 Canadian Tire Series champion D.J. Kennington.
Bowles was able to gain the lead over Kennington in the final restart in a race that was marred by 11 caution flag periods. Crashes took out most of the marquee stars of the event elevating Jonathon Gomez to third, followed by Luis Martinez Jr., Johnny Borneman, action sports star Travis Pastrana who was making his NASCAR debut, and pole sitter Derek Thorn. Travis Motley, Moses Smith and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Steve Wallace rounded out the top ten.
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