Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pruett Changes Team, but Still Prohibitive Favorite; Great Bond with Ganassi, but 5-Time Rolex 24 Winner Couldn't Pass Up Chance to Race Lexus

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pruett Changes Team, but Still Prohibitive Favorite; Great Bond with Ganassi, but 5-Time Rolex 24 Winner Couldn't Pass Up Chance to Race Lexus

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

DAYTONA BEACH | Scott Pruett returned to the Daytona International Speedway Thursday in a customary role as a prohibitive favorite to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race.

But for the first time in 13 years, it won't be with Chip Ganassi Racing.

The 55 year-old driver will attempt to break his tie of five 24-hour wins with racing icon Hurley Haywood in a selected start with Chevrolet. The race is scheduled to start at 2:40 p.m. on the 3.56-mile road course that utilizes portions of the superspeedway and infield road course.

And like the past 12 years with Ganassi, Pruett remains a prohibitive favorite.

"This is the team that's won the last two [IMSA prototype] championships," Pruett said.

Rain during qualifying hampered all of the prototypes. Although Pruett's car was 42nd-quickest overall, as a prototype it still will start from 11th.

Pruett won four of his 24-hour races with Ganassi. He also won a sports car-record 44 races and five championships in the sport's premier classification. The decision to break away actually started more than a half-year ago.

"I was in a unique position to make a decision," Pruett said. "It was me."

Not only was Ganassi switching to the new Ford GT in the GT-Le Mans class this year. Pruett was given the opportunity to bring Lexus back to GT-Daytona a class as IMSA prepares to overhaul its fleet of sports cars for the 2017 season.

"I decided to go with Lexus," Pruett said. "We'll come back here next year with the new car."

While Lexus works on an interim car for the second half of the IMSA season Pruett will partner with Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Flipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette. Together, that foursome has nine combined victories in the twice-around-the-clock marathon.

Fittipaldi and Barbosa were part of Action Express' winning team in 2014.

"During the test here they've listened to my input," Pruett said. "It's been real smooth. …

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