The 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona came to a close this afternoon, with Wayne Taylor Racing getting the overall win, their first since 2005. It was the first Rolex win for brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, as well as former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. It was also an emotion moment for Max Angelelli, in what was his final career race.
Gordon joins fellow NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and IndyCar legends AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only four drivers to win the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 500. All four have won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well.
After 23 hours and 45 minutes of racing, two classes were fighting side-by-side for the win. Ricky made a bold move in the final few laps that got the team back into the lead. The incident with Filipe Albuquerque of the Action Express race team was reviewed, but no action was taken by the officials. Video of the incident is below.
Albuquerque did not agree with the call. “I don’t think I lost the race, to be honest, because I don’t race like this. He hit me in the back. You can see in the car, so I spun. He didn’t even wait for me. He just took off. So if the officials don’t agree that it’s a penalty, okay, that it can be a fair play by Wayne for the fight. But it didn’t happen, so it’s what it is.”
As for the stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series, they were put to the test overnight. In addition to the darkness, temperatures in the 40s and heavy rain made driving conditions extremely tough. Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Graham Rahal all pushed forward during their lengthy stints.
Bourdais was part of Chip Ganassi’s GT Le Mans class winning team. After winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June, Ganassi’s Ford GT with Bourdais, Dirk Mueller, and Joey Hand claimed yet another 24-hour victory. Kanaan and the No. 69 team finished 5th in the GTLM class, and Dixon’s No. 67 crew was 10th after suffering problems overnight. Ryan Briscoe spun on the exit to the bus stop, and backed the car into the wall just before the halfway point of the race.
Kanaan was one of the drivers that seemed to really enjoy the tough weather conditions. “A lot of fun,” he said. “It’s slippery, very slippery. The car is fun to drive, we had a blast. I’m enjoying it a lot. I took over the car in seventh place and we went all the way back to first, so it was a good triple stint.” Kanaan and the No. 69 squad finished 9th overall.
It was a tough break for Sage Karam, as they had trouble very early in the race. Scott Pruett was bumped from behind exiting Turn 1, which sent the Lexus hard into the inside wall. The damage to the chassis was too severe to fix, and the team was forced to withdraw the No. 14 car. Conor Daly’s team also had trouble overnight, when James Dayson apparently made contact with a Prototype car. The No. 88 finished 4th in the Prototype Challenge class.
The two Mazda machines with drivers James Hinchcliffe and Spencer Pigot had tough luck as well, finishing 11th and 12th in Prototype. Pigot was running fifth overall in the race when his car erupted into flames with just over four hours remaining. The No. 70 car had several mechanical problems that plagued the team throughout the race.
Hunter-Reay was part of the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 team with Jeff Segal, Ozz Negri Jr, and Tom Dyer. They had a solid outing, finishing in fifth place in the deep GT Daytona class. Despite an 11th place finish in the class, their sister car overcame significant front end damage. Rahal was part of that team, which was competing for the class lead with eight hours remaining in the event. Overall, it was a nice return for the NSX.
It was another highly successful event for Mike Hull, and Chip Ganassi. They will soon turn their attention back to IndyCar, in preparation for the 2017 season-opener at St Petersburg on March 12. The next event for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the following weekend (March 18) at Sebring International Raceway. Several IndyCar drivers are once again expected to participate in that popular event.
Below is video of the finish from this year’s race.
Photos from the event, courtesy of IMSA and RACER.