Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing are two of the best organizations in all of racing. Both have IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA programs as they’re on top of their games in everything they show up to race in.
Penske won last year’s Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Southern 500 as well as the Cup Series championship. Ganassi, won the IndyCar title too a year ago. Between them, they’ve won six straight IndyCar championships including 10 of the last 11.
If you want to excel in racing, you have to go through them no matter what series you’re racing in.
So, when they show up for the second straight season to compete in the same IMSA race at Daytona, it’s worth noting. Granted, Ganassi has been racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for years, Penske just came back last season.
In this years edition, they both could have won their classes if things went their ways.
Penske competes in the DPi and if the weather stayed dry, they likely would have won. In the dry conditions, they had the top cars. When the Mazda’s had electrical problems early on, the Penskes were there to capitalize.
The No. 7 Acura ended up best among the two in a third place effort. Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi had a fast car but lacked the speed around the 3.56-mile road course in wet conditions. Unfortunately for them, from 5 a.m. ET on, it was more wet than not.
The No. 6 Acura being driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud had an oil pump belt come loose with just four hours to go which relegated them to an eighth place finish, 17 laps down.
While it’s not finishes that they like, it’s something that shows they have the speed to contend for the overall championship this season.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Bad Luck
Last year’s winner in the GT class had a chance to repeat. While their speed wasn’t a great as the last few years, they still were in contention to win in the end. In fact, if not for some bad luck, then the No. 67 Ford was going to be handed some more jewelry in the rain shortened event.
The Castrol colored car overcame some early race misfortunes and made up five laps to grab the lead in the closing stages. Ryan Briscoe slapped the wall at pit exit in the early portions of the race and forced the car back to pit road for repairs. The team was able to get them back out, but they were already five laps down. To show how much speed that they had, by 2 a.m. they had already made up three of those five laps.
They were even better in the rain and had come all the way back to the lead. Unfortunately, Richard Westbrook pit late for fuel but the pits were closed. They were penalized a lap for that infraction and went from the lead to fourth.
Some may say, why pit? Well, they were out of fuel and couldn’t control the caution that flew for a crash in very wet conditions.
Despite coming all the way back, they had bad luck in the end.
What about their other car?
Joey Hand, Dirt Muller and Sebastien Bourdais were in the hunt all race. Unfortunately for them, they finished seventh when they were involved in a late crash with a Porsche on one of the final restarts. They were in the top two at that point.
So, as you can see, Penske and Ganassi could easily have won this weekend.