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Ganassi down to 1 car after mechanical failure

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 2:36 p.m.
Memo Rojas drives the Ganassi Racing BMW Riley (01) during the Grand-Am Series Rolex 24-hour race Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at Daytona International Speedway. (AP)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Rolex 24 at Daytona turned into a battle between defending champion AJ Allmendinger and two-time race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, as Chip Ganassi's chances to return to Victory Lane were down to one car down the stretch.

Montoya's BMW Riley had the clear horsepower advantage over Allmendinger's Ford, which came back from seven laps down twice in the 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.

Ganassi made a slight change to his lineup this year after both his teams failed to make the podium last season, and the switch sent Montoya back to the No. 01 team he was with for victories in 2007 and '08. The Colombian was positioned to close out the race against Michael Shank Racing workhorse Allmendinger, who drove the No. 60 to victory last year.

Out of the mix was Ganassi's No. 02 “star car,” which dropped out with a mechanical failure with roughly four hours remaining in the twice-round-the-clock race at Daytona International Speedway.

The car had fallen seven laps down when Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray hit the wall exiting pit road after an early morning driver change, but clawed back to only two laps down as the race headed into the final stretch. But with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti behind the wheel, the car lost drive and came to a stop on the course.

It brought out a full-course yellow, and Ganassi used the caution period to change the brakes on the No. 01 car. Rival team owner Wayne Taylor, whose car was running in the top four and on the lead lap, then intimated Franchitti deliberately stopped on the track to aid his teammates.

Franchitti bristled at the accusation, and angrily suggested Taylor worry only about his own team.

“Tell Wayne to shut up,” the four-time IndyCar champion said. “We were concentrating on getting our lap back.”

Montoya stood nearby, offering condolences to the drivers he teamed with the last three years at the Rolex.

McMurray was admittedly “deflated” over the mistake that put his team in such a big hole.

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