TUSC: Ganassi Fastest in Rolex 24 Test

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – official series release – Chip Ganassi Racing photo –

The 2015 season got off to a roaring start Friday as TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge teams hit the asphalt at Daytona Int’l Speedway for the Roar Before The Rolex 24.

Joey Hand of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was fastest overall with a speed of 128.937 mph in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Target Riley DP.

The Ganassi team wasted no time in asserting its dominance and boasted a 1-2 finish in the opening TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice session. The team’s superstar two-car lineup includes IndyCar and NASCAR stars such as Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.

“I really have enjoyed my friendship with Scott Dixon,” McMurray said. It’s nice to be with Kyle, who I’m on the NASCAR side with, and then Tony Kanaan is just a lot of fun to be around. So we have a really good group of guys. It’s fun racing the car, sharing the car with them, but it’s also fun, all the hanging out, like going to dinners, eating lunch together, and just kind of catching up on what’s going on in everyone’s life.”

Scott Pruett is back with Ford full time and going for sole possession of the all-time Rolex 24 win record this year. He and Hurley Haywood are tied with five overall wins apiece.

“It’s exciting for me to be involved with Ford, period, no matter what we do,” he said. “Putting them back in victory lane at Sebring overall (in 2014), which I think was their first win since ’69, was magical. If we could get to victory lane here with Ford, it would, again, recreate that magic that’s there.”

Pedro Lamy, Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande led the respective GT Le Mans (GTLM), GT Daytona (GTD) and Prototype Challenge (PC) classes.

Billy Johnson clocked the fastest lap of the day from a pair of Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge sessions in the Grand Sport (GS) class, while Greg Liefooghe led both sessions in the Street Tuner (ST) class.

Johnson’s best lap of 110.679 mph aboard the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R came in the second session of the day. Johnson is sharing the car with Canadian Motorsport Hall of Famer Scott Maxwell.

“It’s great to be back at Daytona, starting a new year,” said Johnson, who ended last season with his first career pole at Circuit of The Americas and a season-ending victory at Road Atlanta in Multimatic’s sister Ford. “Unfortunately, last year started out a little slow for us, but we got some concessions throughout the year, and it’s hard to beat ending a season on a high note like that. Hopefully, we can continue that momentum into 2015 with some good results.”

Liefooghe’s best lap of 102.120 mph in the No. 83 Next Generation European Porsche Cayman, also came in in the second session of the day. Liefooghe’s co-driver is Eric Zimmermann.

CREDIT: Tudor United SportsCar Series Release 

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