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 this weekend's sportscar 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."
Donohue and the Brumos Racing team held off NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya and the rest of Ganassi's star-studded lineup in the event's closest finish, ending Ganassi's three-year reign in the event.
This time Montoya shares the driving in the No. 02 BMW Riley with fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and NASCAR's Jamie McMurray. And Scott Pruett leading Ganassi's No. 01 BMW Riley.
"I would think that we are the favorites," Montoya said. "I think everybody is looking to knock us off again."
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson headlines the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team in the No. 99 Chevrolet Riley along with former CART champion Jimmy Vasser. Other Sprint Cup drivers entered include AJ Allmendinger (No. 6 Daytona Prototype), Paul Menard (No. 90 DP) and Bobby Labonte (No. 71 Grand Touring).
NASCAR CUTS FEES, PURSES: Reflecting tough economic times, NASCAR lowered the fee it charges tracks to hold races, and the trickle down affects nearly every aspect of events. Tracks should be able to reduce ticket prices and lower various fees. Prize money, largely determined by profit, will drop by about 10 percent, according to Sporting News. Ty Norris, the executive vice president of Michael Waltrip Racing, told Sporting News he expects winnings to be about the same in total thanks to an increase in television revenue. Tracks have seen attendance and sponsor money drop.