On target again: Chip Ganassi Racing captures Rolex 24 for sixth time

Scott Dixon drove the winning car home for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday.

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty I/Getty Images

Team owner Chip Ganassi was in a familiar place after the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona came to a conclusion Sunday afternoon.

It’s called Victory Lane.

For a record sixth time in 12 attempts a Ganassi-owned car scored the overall win in the prestigious endurance race. No organization has claimed more overall victories in the 53 years the event has been held.

Three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon drove the majority of the race in the No. 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley Daytona Prototype, and carried the car to the finish over the course of the last three hours of the 24-hour event.

By scoring the victory, Dixon was able to earn his second Rolex 24 at Daytona victory, while teammates Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson went to Victory Lane for the first time in the annual endurance race.

"It’s everybody, it’s such a team effort here," said Dixon. "We tried to keep the car clean, we tried to look after it as much as possible. Such a big thank you to my teammates. It was awesome. Big to be back in here with Team Target and Ford EcoBoost.

"We just had the speed. It was a lot of pit work there to get the transition and jump them in the pits at one point there. Just so happy for the team. For me, it’s been since 2006, obviously it’s Kyle and Jamie’s first, and TK. I don’t know what to say, man."

For McMurray, the victory cements his legacy at Daytona International Speedway, as he becomes just the third driver to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Daytona 500, joining motorsports legends A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.

NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray shine in the Rolex 24 at Daytona

"It’s really special," McMurray said in Victory Lane. "I have to first off thank Chip and Felix (Sabates) for giving all of the opportunity. Tony, Kyle and I were just thanking Chip and Felix for giving the chance to drive the car. We had such a great group of guys driving, such an awesome team."

Despite his record-setting performance, McMurray was ready to push the praise on teammate Scott Dixon, who finished the race with a three-plus hour stint.

"Really it’s just about Scott Dixon today," said McMurray. "He got in with three and a half hours to go and just really did an amazing job. I’m just so proud of him."

For 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson, the victory came one year after he struggled in his first attempt at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. During his multiple stints this weekend, Larson was among the fastest in the field and helped keep the No. 02 Ford in contention for the overall victory.

"It’s crazy how much a year can do," said Larson. "I hated this race after last year. I was terrible. This year, coming back, I felt comfortable right off the bat and had a lot fun. Thanks to Felix, thanks to Chip, thanks to this whole Target team for giving me the opportunity to drive this.

A closer look at how Chip Ganassi Racing team won drama-filled Rolex 24 at Daytona

"I’m just a dirt oval guy, and to come here and race a sports car here at Daytona, on the road course, it’s pretty awesome," he said.

The victory was not easy for the Ganassi group, as Kanaan had an off-course excursion during the overnight hours and the team had to battle the second Chip Ganassi Racing entry, as well as Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing.

"That last part of the race, it’s so horrible," said Dixon. "You think something’s going to break or you’re going to go off in a corner or something."

When a fiery incident involving Colin Braun brought out a full-course caution with less than 15 minutes left to go in the event, the field was stacked up and Jordan Taylor appeared ready to give Dixon a tough run to the checkers.

However, the team was forced to pit for a driver change, which left many scratching their heads. Per the Rolex 24 rules, each driver can only compete for a certain amount of time, and Jordan Taylor would have exceeded the restriction.

Coming to pit road, Ricky Taylor jumped into the No. 10 car and finished the race in the third spot. Wayne Taylor Racing has now finished second, second, and third in the last three Rolex 24 at Daytona races.

"I think it was just a miscalculation in drive-time," a dejected Jordan Taylor said after the race. "I think you’re only allowed to drive four out of six hours and I guess I was going to go over that. It’s a bit disappointing, but we win and lose as a team. We’ve gone 72 hours now without a problem in this race and we just can’t win it. Two seconds and a third now, but we’ll look back at it as a good points day and go on to Sebring second in the championship."

Despite kicking off the Rolex 24 at Daytona from the pole position, AJ Allmendinger and his No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Honda/Ligier JS PS finished 11th overall with Matt McMurray behind the wheel when the checkered flag flew.

Following the race, Allmendinger had kind words for his teammates, as well as his fellow NASCAR competitors that were busy celebrating in Victory Lane.