Rahal matches father’s win 30 years later

By Dave Lewandowski

Graham Rahal’s association with Chip Ganassi Racing already is paying dividends.
Rahal, who will drive the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season, co-drove the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car to victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It came 30 years after his father, Bobby, joined Brian Remond and Bob Garretson in Victory Lane.

“Most drivers who compete in this event, and there have been thousands, will never get the opportunity to win this race,” Rahal said. “And to have the chance to win it, and to have that chance at 22 with a great team, this is pretty sweet. And to be my first race with Ganassi and really looking forward to the IndyCar schedule kicking off in only a month or two, there’s no better way to win.”

The 1981 sports car endurance race was Bobby Rahal’s breakthrough victory in a career marked by his 1986 Indianapolis 500 title and CART championships in 1986, ’87 and ’92. He had 24 open-wheel racing victories and 88 podium finishes.

He watched from pit lane as the No. 01 car, co-driven by Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Joey Hand, held off the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry by 2.46 seconds.
“I thought about (Graham winning) this whole weekend, of really how cool would that be if he was able to do it,” Rahal said.

The victory gave team owner Chip Ganassi consecutive victories in the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 500 and the Rolex 24 (from February 2010).

“I don’t drive the cars, I don’t change the tires and I don’t work on the engines,” Ganassi said. “There are lots of people, lots of great competitors, who make up this team. I just get to stand up here and talk about it. This could all end — could be on its way to being over and we wouldn’t even know it. You have to approach every race and you have to start — a win here does not reward you at the next race. That’s the great thing about our sport is you go in, each race, each year and it’s zero-based gain.

“You start from scratch at the next race again and when the next race is over, you start from scratch at the one after that, and when the season is over like we did in 2010, you start from scratch and start over again and you start counting from zero.

“So nothing is a given and the only thing this earns us today is, yes, we had a great day today, and tomorrow, we’ll be on to the next race and our competitors, all we are doing is making their fire burn more to beat us.”

IZOD IndyCar Series stars Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon co-drove the No. 02 Daytona Prototype with Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray to the runner-up finish. The SunTrust Racing car co-driven by Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) finished fifth overall, while the Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian car co-driven by Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) was sixth. Also, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice co-drove the Action Express Racing car that finished ninth. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) teamed with 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos to finish 11th in the Level 5 Motorsports car.

The race was slowed 23 times for 141 laps. There weren’t any major incidents, but morning fog led to 2 hours, 47 minutes (57 laps) running under caution.

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