Ganassi sweeps top 2 spots in Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (AP): Car owner Chip Ganassi is back in Victory Lane at America's most prestigious road race.

Defending Grand-Am Series champion Scott Pruett drove the last leg in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and held off Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon on a final restart.

Yep, America's longest endurance race came down to a one-lap sprint.

Pruett pulled away from Dixon and third-place finisher Joao Barbosa after the green-white restart and won the Daytona Prototype class by 2.42 seconds. Pruett and co-drivers Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand celebrated with Ganassi in Victory Lane. They received electric guitars and Rolex watches.

"This was unbelievable," Pruett said. "Our car ran and ran and ran. This is just awesome, truly awesome, to have a 1-2 finish is just incredible."

It's Ganassi's fourth victory in the 24-hour race. This one fills the small void created last season when Ganassi's primary car finished second in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race. That failure became glaring after Ganassi drivers won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Ganassi now is the only car owner to win the four biggest races in the United States during a 12-month period.

Pruett used pit strategy to get ahead of the other Ganassi entry in the final hour and stayed out front down the stretch. He ended up racing 721 laps and more than 2,566 miles, and overcame several setbacks.

The last one looked like it might doom the car.

Hand, who consistently put down the fastest laps of the event, drove to the front of the field. But he received a drive-through penalty that included a 30-second stop after hitting a tire on pit road. He dropped 51 seconds behind the lead pack, but made up 30 seconds under green-flag conditions.

He turned the wheel over to Pruett for the final 110 minutes, and Pruett made up the rest of the ground by pitting a little earlier than the other Ganassi car and taking advantage of new tires.

The No. 02 team, Ganassi's star-studded team that included Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, finished second. Action Express, the defending race winners, finished third with Joao Barbosa behind the wheel.

Andy Lally led TRG Racing to a victory in the Grand Touring class, beating the Paul Miller Racing entry by two laps. Lally claimed the pole position but started in the back of the pack after failing post-qualifying inspection. The team, with Steven Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan, Wolf Henzler and Spencer Pumpelly sharing the seat, drove the final 17 hours without a clutch.

Patrick Dempsey's team finished third in the GT class, giving the "Grey's Anatomy" star one of his more memorable weekends.

Dempsey drove the No. 40 Mazda into the lead Sunday morning, but co-driver Tom Long spun on his own with just under six hours remaining in the race. Long was unable to get the car restarted after a pit stop, and the Dempsey Racing car fell four laps down.

It was the first time "McDreamy" has ever led a race at this level. It came two days after he appeared at the Sundance Film Festival for the premier of his new film "Flypaper." He produced the film and said it got strong reviews.

His race made the weekend even more special, and Dempsey was in tears talking about his third-place finish.

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