Papis gets Indy win; Ganassi’s endurance champ
July 26, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
"It took a sprint at the end to win the endurance championship."
-- Chip Ganassi, owner of the North American Endurance Championship presented by VisitFlorida.com winning team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas
SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Scotland's Ryan Dalziel and Venezuelan Alex Popow overcame a penalty for jumping the green flag at the start of the race to take the checkered flag and the Daytona Prototype points lead three hours later in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series' Brickyard Grand Prix.
Dalziel had to hold off the five-time and reigning series champion Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team that was quickly gaining on the lead in the waning minutes of Friday's race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.54-mile road course.
And the same great passion that popular Italian driver Max Papis displayed in disappointment after getting spun out in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America last month, was redirected in a GT Class victory Friday.
Papis famously slapped fellow competitor Billy Johnson's helmet, then apologized to the television viewers following the NASCAR race on the Wisconsin road circuit. On Friday night he was kissing the famous bricks after teaming with Jeff Segal for the class win in the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge part of a Super Weekend race tripleheader here with a NASCAR Nationwide race Saturday and Sprint Cup race Sunday.
Ganassi veteran Scott Pruett's inspired drive to second place in the No. 01 BMW/Riley -- after a series of mid-race setbacks -- was good enough to deliver the North American Endurance Championship presented by VisitFlorida.com to the team. The award goes to the team that collects the most points in three designated races -- the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Six Hours at the (Watkins) Glen and this week's race at Indianapolis.
"It took a sprint at the end to win the endurance championship," said a smiling Ganassi, who was being congratulated by GRAND-AM Series founder Jim France outside Victory Lane.
"It's so great to win something here at Indianapolis, especially because we spun, we got knocked off the track, had a lot of things happen. A lot of hard work goes into this; it's not just one weekend. It's tough to put those three races together."
Like Ganassi, who also owns a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, Papis has NASCAR ties competing in both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series. The versatile driver spoke of his only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the famous Indy oval, a disappointing last place after his car's engine expired only 15 laps into the race.
Before Friday's win, Papis' previous best finish at Indianapolis was 14th place in the 2006 Indy 500.
"It's a great opportunity to be in Indianapolis first and just to be out here and kiss the bricks," Papis said. "Today was really a team win.
"We gave the first win to Ferrari this year and we gave it at Indianapolis. We deserve today and it's a payback for all the shortcomings all year long."
"Walking up that pit lane today was definitely a lot of mixed emotions,” continued Papis, who celebrated friend and fellow Brickyard Grand Prix competitor Tony Kanaan’s Indy 500 victory in May. “I remember when I did the Indy 500 (in 2008) and we couldn't qualify, I said, 'Man, I don't want to leave this place with this feeling.'
"Today definitely deleted all of that. Today is proof that good things happen to good people."
-- Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long won GX Class trophy for Mazdaspeed. And Rob Kauffman, co-owner of NASCAR's Michael Waltrip Racing finished 16th in the GT class.
-- The Fall-Line Motorsports team of Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden won the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge earlier Friday, beating Ford drivers Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson by .8 seconds. Veteran Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra were the ST (Street Tuner) class winners.
Alex Popow waves the Venezuelan flag as he wins his second consecutive Brickyard Grand Prix for Starworks, this time with Ryan Dalziel.