Scott Pruett has claimed another Rolex 24 at Daytona victory and now shares a piece of sports car history with the legendary Hurley Haywood.
This weekend’s win in the twice-around-the-clock classic, the season-opening event of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, was the fifth overall for Pruett – matching Haywood’s record that has stood since 1991.
Pruett shared driving duties with Charlie Kimball, Juan Pablo Montoya and Memo Rojas – with Montoya steering the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW-powered Riley to the checkered flag with a winning margin of 21.922 seconds over runner-up Max Angelelli.
“It’s an incredible day all the way around, winning with these guys and with Chip,” said Pruett, who was quickly congratulated by Haywood at the conclusion of the race. “And then, at the end of it – having gotten to know Hurley real well over the years by racing with him and just as a friend, to have him there was pretty special.”
With Pruett battling a sore ankle, it was left to Montoya to drive the final stint of the race Sunday afternoon.
“For some reason, my left ankle was bothering me a lot,” said Pruett, who now has a leg up on his fourth straight Daytona Prototype championship. “I knew I could go out and run a fast pace. But I wasn’t confident that if I had to go head-to-head with some hard, close racing, I’d have enough strength in my ankle to be able to get it done.
“If I had to really stomp on the brakes and maybe out-deep somebody, I just wasn’t 100 percent confident. So I got in, ran a couple stints right there at the end and put us in a solid position. With the talented group of guys who could get it done, the thing to do is turn it over to them. Juan got in the car and did a tremendous job.”
Pruett then added some historical perspective to his medical report, regarding that fifth Rolex 24 at Daytona victory.
“They’re all different, but they’re all sweet,” he said. “Sometimes you’re faced with rain, or incredibly hot temperatures. And sometimes you’re faced with a car that is down from where you hoped it would be.”
Pruett and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates were met by none of those obstacles this weekend as they confidently motored through all 24 hours to finish where they started – atop the scoreboard.
“Our car was always the same,” Pruett said. “It changed at night, but the balance didn’t. It seemed like the grip of the tires had longevity and you’d go further before you felt like (they) started to give up. It was a wonderful car to drive.”
The tandem of Pruett and Rojas has won four of the last five DP championships. Sunday’s win gets them off and running toward a potential fifth crown together.
“It’s great to have the momentum coming out of this race,” said Pruett, who had qualified on the pole for the 51st running of the Rolex 24. “But when we came into (the weekend), we focused on this race. I shouldn’t say we don’t look at the championship – it’s in the back of your head. But more than anything else, it’s to win this race and get momentum as we head to Austin (Texas) in about four weeks.”