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Montoya grabs lead in Daytona 24-hour race

Montoya grabs lead in Daytona 24-hour race

Juan Pablo Montoya drove past Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon to grab the lead late in the third hour Saturday of the Rolex 24 sports car endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.
Montoya, making the jump from Formula One to NASCAR's Nextel Cup series this year with the Ganassi team, chased and caught former IRL champion Dixon, who was struggling with brake problems after building almost a full-lap lead on the 5.73 kilometer (3.56-mile) road circuit.
As expected, the fast Daytona Prototypes were dominating the 24-hour race, with the two Ganassi Lexus Rileys leading the way in the early going.
With Dixon fading, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove into second place in a Pontiac Riley prototype and Darren Law was third in a Porsche Riley, all within a lap of the lead car shared by Montoya, Scott Pruett and Salvador Duran.
Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, co-driving another Pontiac Riley, was 20th, three laps down after the car spent extra time in the pits with an electronics problem after former Daytona 24-hour champion Max Angelelli led earlier in the race.
Tony Stewart, another former NASCAR champion, has twice come close to winning here and knows that the grueling endurance race leaves little room for error.
"It can be brutal," Stewart said minutes before the start. "It can just eat you up. We came within 17 1/2 minutes of winning this thing a couple of years ago and it just blew up on us. There are just so many things that can go wrong in 24 hours, you just have to drive the car and put everything else out of your mind."
Stewart, co-driving a Pontiac Crawford _one of 28 Daytona Prototypes at the front of the star-studded 70-car field _ with road racing stars Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger, was among the favorites when the grueling race got under way under a mostly sunny sky with temperatures in the low 70s.
But the team ran into problems early with a broken axle and was 52nd, 17 laps off the pace after three hours.
Alex Gurney, who started from the pole in a Pontiac Riley, slammed into one of the slower GT3 Class cars just 10 minutes into the race. The son of longtime racing star Dan Gurney limped back to the pits for repairs. The car was running, but 27 laps behind the leader.


Updated : 2021-07-31 16:55 GMT+08:00