Monday, January 30, 2006

Rolex 24 Aftermath: Good Luck, Bad Luck, and Jinxes

I should’ve known. In the Rolex Grand American 24 Hours at Daytona, luck has a lot to do with it. I jinxed my team, even knowing that the drivers had said that they had been having car trouble in practice and qualifying; that the Howard-Boss Pontiac Crawford #4 Daytona Prototype car was having electrical and power steering problems, and could not stay up to speed. I really did feel that I had reason to be optimistic. First of all, it was arguably the best team of drivers in the race. Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger, and Tony Stewart all carry very impressive credentials. Secondly, the team thought they had isolated the problem, which meant that it ideally could be repaired during the course of the race. That didn’t happen, of course. The problem grew steadily worse, despite several attempts to fix it, and the #4 team finished 17 laps behind the winner.
The winner of the race, overall and DP class, was the #60 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, driven by NASCAR regular Casey Mears and IRL champions Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon. This was a remarkable victory; the #60 team had started in the second position and had stayed near the lead for the entire 24 hours, which has been rare in endurance races. Also remarkable is that, as far as I know, Casey Mears is the first full time NASCAR driver to win the Rolex 24. Mears, who is the nephew of Indy racing legend Roger Mears, also drives for Ganassi in the NASCAR series, and has shown some serious talent and ability, possibly enough to be considered a future NASCAR champion. So, congratulations to Casey, and the entire #60 team. One more thing; I do not remember a time when the victorious team in the Rolex 24 did not include at least one full time Grand Am driver. This is not likely the first time it has occurred, but it is certainly notable.
I do consider myself a serious race fan, but I did not watch the entire 13 hours of live coverage on Speed TV, because I like to think I really do have a life. Still, as a race fan, I greatly appreciate that the race is covered on television. In the old days, we had to read about it in the following month’s issue of Car Craft magazine. Kudos to Speed TV, for such excellent coverage.

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