Scott Pruett will make his 29th Rolex 24 At Daytona at-bat this weekend with hopes of becoming the all-time, overall race winner. Pruett, 54, is tied with road-racing icon Hurley Haywood with five Rolex 24 titles, scoring four of those priceless triumphs since 2007 driving for car owner Chip Ganassi. With two wins in the Brumos Porsche 250 (a summer race discontinued earlier this decade) and an IROC victory in 1991, plus five additional Rolex 24 class wins, Daytona International Speedway has been good for Pruett’s racing career. All that’s left is score that next Rolex 24 title, which would put him at the top of a very tall pedestal.
“I’ve always told everybody I never worry about that kind of stuff,” he said in a recent interview at DIS. “I’ve never started my acceptance speech before I win a championship.
“It’s about the effort and we’ll give it our all. The Good Lord willing, we will get to Victory Lane again.”
Last year Pruett knew going into the Rolex 24 his chances of winning were slim to none. Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates started 2014 with a new engine package and chassis configuration. The Rolex 24 was more of a test session for the new package, rather than a run for glory. “Last year we went to a gun fight with a knife and things didn’t go so well,” Pruett said. “It was a tough season even though we had three victories. Overall it was a challenging season.”
“I’m proud of our guys; the Ganassi guys, Ford guys, engineers, everyone at Roush Yates Racing. It was not an easy season last year. Nobody gave up. They kept digging and working hard. Hopefully as we get into 2015 we will reap those rewards.”
And that brings us back to Daytona and the next round of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic. Pruett said after more than a year of development the No. 01 Ford Riley Prototype and its No. 02 sister car are ready to battle toe-to-toe with anybody else who sticks their nose in the lead pack. “This year is a whole different story,” he said. “Ganassi Racing is coming here like we’ve done in the past, racing to win.”
Pruett will be the anchor of a four-man driver roster that includes his new co-driver Joey Hand, plus the additional support from Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam. The No. 02 will be handled by Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. So Pruett will need help from his team and co-drivers to earn that sixth Rolex 24 trophy, which has all of Ganassi Racing on high alert.
“I look forward to racing with Scott in this race,” Larson said, adding “You don’t want to be that guy who ruins everybody’s chance to win this big race.”
No, Pruett hasn’t started the draft for his Rolex 24 Victory Lane speech, but he knows this team will give it their best shot. “All the work Ford has done, the team’s done and all that we learned with the 2014 season, we are continuing that progress in 2015,” he said. “I could not be more excited. The cars are running strong and as you know, anything can happen in this race.”
“This is a huge relief. We know where we are at, we know what to expect, and we know where the cars are at. I can’t ask for any more.”