DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Scott Pruett came about two hours short of challenging for his record sixth Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victory.
A pesky clutch issue while Joey Hand was running fourth overall sent the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car to the garage for repairs, and too many laps were lost when Hand return to the race with 1 hour, 35 minutes left.
The team also included Verizon IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam (the 2013 Indy Lights champion). It was soon after a routine service stop during his final stint that Karam, who drove a total of almost seven hours, "felt something right away."
“We were in a way better spot this year,” said Karam, 19, who said he expects to complete a deal soon to drive in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “That’s why it’s a heartbreaker this year because we were right there going for the lead, and then just something so simple like a clutch. I couldn’t use first gear, so I only had second through sixth, and there’s like three turns on the track that are first gear corners, so I was really slow and then we figured we’d bring it in and try to diagnose the problem a little bit.
"You want to give the team your all, and it (would have been) a big deal for Scott to get the record and me to get my first Rolex."
Pruett, 53, the 1989 Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year, was making his 25th start in the endurance race. Two years ago, he tied Hurley Haywood with five overall victories. Pruett also has 10 class wins in the race.
“All those records are special,” Pruett said after qualifying the car third. “Now, what does that mean? It means you come and you do your job, and if everything falls into place, and if Lady Luck shines on you a little bit, you can get to Victory Lane first, and it’s a great thing to have. But most certainly, you don’t, at least for me, I don’t even think about that. If it comes, it comes.”
Four-time winners include Peter Gregg, Pedro Rodriguez and Rolf Stommelen. Team Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya is joined by Derek Bell, Bob Wollek, Butch Leitzinger, Memo Rojas and Brian Redman with three overall wins.
In four Indianapolis 500 starts, Preutt had a best finish of 10th in his rookie year (in a car that helped Firestone return to the sport). He last competed at the Speedway in an Indy car 20 years ago.