Ganassi giving Herculean effort at Rolex: 4 cars, 14 drivers

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Chip Ganassi was asked during a meeting this week who was driving for him in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team owner grabbed a piece of paper and began to jot down the names.

“It took me a few minutes to write them all down to make sure I had all the drivers,” he said Friday.

Ganassi is putting forth a Herculean effort for this year’s race. He is fielding four cars for 14 drivers in two different classes.

Add in the pressure that one of the cars, his No. 02 “star car,” is the defending race champion. It’s in theory the last hurrah for one of the most celebrated cars in this prestigious race.

Ganassi is only fielding the No. 01 and No. 02 prototypes at Daytona because he is the defending race winner and because he had the cars in his inventory.

After that, he will abandon the Prototype class and focus on his newest endeavor – two-car, Ford GT production programs in both the GTLM class in the U.S. and the LM GTE Pro class in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Europe.

The change was made to give Ganassi his first chance to enter cars at Le Mans, and he is the cornerstone of Ford’s return to the showcase event 50 years after the manufacturer went 1-2-3 with the GT40 in 1966. Ford repeated its winning performance at Le Mans with the GT40 from 1967 to 1969.

So this is the last shot for Ganassi to win the overall title at the Rolex, where the winning car is almost always from the Prototype class. Ganassi has a record six overall victories in twice-round-the-clock endurance race that begins Saturday afternoon.

Returning to defend last year’s win in the “star car” are reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.

The No. 01 will be driven by former Formula One and sports car racer Alex Wurz, 2015 WEC champion Brendon Hartley, three-time Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx and 17-year-old Lance Stroll.

In the GTLM class, the No. 66 will be driven by Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais. The No. 67 entry will be driven by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Stefan Mucke. Both Hand and Bourdais are previous winners of the Rolex.

When the teams reported to Daytona International Speedway for January testing, Ganassi held his annual driver dinner and squeezed the entire lineup at one table.

“He’s got a lot of pride in this event, especially this year having 14 drivers here,” Larson said. “That dinner he had … you could see he was really excited to have us all at one table.”

It’s a prestigious group of drivers with extensive resumes. And for Ganassi, who has won the Rolex 24, the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in one calendar year, it’s a chance to put four cars into the field at Le Mans and add that race to his resume.

“He’s really proud. You can see how excited and proud he is that all of these drivers are driving for him on this weekend,” McMurray said. “No other owner in the world has this many guys from that many series who have won so many big races on one team.”

The prototype program will go away when the race concludes Sunday, and Ganassi’s run of 41 overall sports car victories and five series championships will come to an end. His cars will instead race for class victories.

“The important people who need to know the difference between the Prototypes and the GTs, I don’t think they take away from a win in GT versus Prototypes, a win is a win,” Ganassi said.

It’s unknown, though, if there will ever be another “star car” for Ganassi. He could add any combination of Dixon, Bourdais and Kanaan to the Le Mans lineups as the trio does not have any conflicts with IndyCar during that June race.

But as far as putting an all-star lineup together for another Rolex, nothing is certain. And even if the drivers do return, they would only be running for class victory and not the overall win.

“It’s a blatant reality. All of us hope to be back, and at least we can say we’ve done it and won it,” Dixon said. “But all of us want to be part of this race, it’s a great race, a great way to start the season. The last thing I want to see is it not happen.”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage