Rolex recap: Dixon, Kanaan see winning hopes hit the brakes

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It was a rough weekend for defending Verizon IndyCar Series champ Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Both drivers took turns driving the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing/Riley Daytona Prototype No. 02, with hopes of defending last year’s victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Every time they thought their team may catch a few breaks, it was the other kind of brakes that proved to be a constant thorn in their victory hopes.

While things started strong, the team faded in the waning hours of the 24-hour event, ultimately ending up a collective 13th place overall (seventh in-class) with Dixon anchoring the final stretch run.

“As far as Daytona Prototypes, we were the quickest, both the (No.) 02 and the 01,” Dixon said. “I feel bad for Chip. All four cars had sort of gremlins.

“We lost the rears (brakes), then we lost the fronts, which initially put us down 10 laps. We got six laps back during the night and then on my (next-to-) last stint, we lost the fronts. (It was) a bit annoying and then obviously Kyle (Larson) lost the rears and ended up taking the front of the car off (slid into a tire wall), through no fault of his own. A car with no brakes is not good around here, especially with a lot of these hairpins.”

Having repeated brake issues not only affected the performance of the car, it also works on a driver’s mentality behind the wheel, Dixon added.

“Unfortunately with the 02, we kept losing brakes, which is not real good for confidence,” Dixon said. “… You’re just trying to feel it out. The last thing you want to do is go into a corner at 190 miles an hour and not have any brakes. I think that happened to all of the drivers in the 02 except for Jamie (McMurray). I’m just glad everybody got away safe.”

As for Kanaan, he also tried to look at the good points of the marathon, even though the overall finish was disappointing nonetheless.

“It’s a shame that (we) we’re that many laps down,” Kanaan said. “We (had) the leaders’ pace but that’s what happens. It’s 24 hours and you have to have a flawless race to be able to win. We had that last year, but this year we had a little bit of a hiccup.

“It’s a shame but good to be back in Daytona. It’s a shame we couldn’t defend the title, but I told Chip (Ganassi) we’ve got to come back again.”

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