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Auto Racing

Ganassi team to beat at Daytona

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 08:14 PM
DAYTONA BEACH -

David Donohue was alone and nestled in the corner of Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway for a photo shoot, watching the star drivers of Chip Ganassi Racing gobble up all the attention.

Even after winning the 24 Hours at Daytona last year, Donohue enters today's sports car endurance race knowing he's not the favorite.

And neither is any other driver without Ganassi stitched on the uniform.

"With the depth of the Ganassi resources," Donohue said, "they will always be the team to beat."

Maybe this year more than ever.

Donohue and the Brumos Racing team held off NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya and the star-studded lineup a year ago in the closest finish by far in the history of the event, ending Ganassi's three-year reign atop American sports car racing's crown jewel. That upset in the twice-around-the-clock event gives this year's race a little added spice.

Montoya will share the driver's seat of the No. 02 BMW Riley with fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, and NASCAR's Jamie McMurray. And with Scott Pruett leading Ganassi's No. 01 BMW Riley, the organization is not only aiming for one car at the top, but it is hoping for two.

"I would think that we are the favorites," Montoya said. "I think everybody is looking to knock us off again. We won three in a row, and we finished second last year. This year, it would be nice if we had two cars in contention. It would be fun if we could make that like a 1-2 finish."

Max Angelelli took the pole Thursday, and Ozz Negri will start outside him on the front row. The No. 02 Ganassi led by Montoya will start fourth, and the No. 01 will be fifth. Donohue will be seventh with Brumos Racing.

NASCAR giving tracks some relief

NASCAR has alleviated some of the financial strain on tracks during the rough economic climate.

The sanctioning body lowered the fee it charges to hold NASCAR races, and the trickle-down affects nearly every aspect of events. The reduction should allow track owners to reduce ticket prices and lower various fees associated with holding a race.

It also will affect prize money, which is largely determined by track profit. High-profile tracks pay a much higher sanctioning fee to NASCAR than smaller venues like Dover, Darlington and Martinsville - and the purses reflect that. Tracks have suffered during the tough economy because of declining attendance and less money from sponsors.

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