Wayne Taylor Racing captured their second straight Rolex 24 victory, and the third in the last four years. The team added Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe to their driver lineup for this year’s race, joining Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande. They overcame a power steering issue and a penalty in the second half of the race to dominate the DPi field.
Dixon now has four Rolex 24 watches, with three of those coming as the overall winner of the event. The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner won’t have much time to rest. Next weekend Dixon will be in Australia to compete in the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
Expectations were high for Roger Penske’s team, as many believed their two cars would challenge for the overall win. That was not the case, as the No. 6 Acura suffered many different issues throughout the event and finished five laps down. The No. 7 ARX-05 had a different issue ruin their chances. Harry Tincknell driving the No. 55 Mazda made a questionable move on Helio Castroneves in the bus stop less than four hours into the race. It was a lengthy repair for the team, which ultimately cost them greatly.
The No. 5 Cadillac DPi with Sebastien Bourdais finished in third place in class. Over in the LMP2 class, DragonSpeed had a dominant race with Ben Hanley and Colin Braun behind the wheel. Their No. 81 ORECA had a nearly flawless day and night, taking the top spot by more than two laps.
The GTLM class was entertaining throughout, and the closing laps were extremely tight as a battle between the No. 24 BMW and the two Porche RSR 19s machines. In the end, it was Rahal Letterman getting the class win for the second consecutive year. The sister car, which had Colton Herta as one of its drivers, finished fifth in class.
The two Lamborghini Huracan GT3 machines took the top two spots in GTD. AJ Allmendinger in the No. 57 Acura NSX finished 25th overall, with Jack Hawksworth and Kyle Busch just behind in 26th as part of the Lexus GT3 team. Aaron Telitz and Townsend Bell finished 31st overall in the other Lexus.
There were only six cautions during the 24-hour event, as the record for most laps completed (previously 808) was crushed. The 833 laps completed and miles driven this year are the most in event history. All four classes saw storylines play out, from contending teams falling, to smaller teams rising.
The next race for the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship is the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21.
Rolex 24 at Daytona Preview
One week after another thrilling Chili Bowl Nationals event, the attention of the motorsports world now focuses on Daytona International Raceway. NASCAR will kick off its 2020 season there in a few weeks, but this weekend belongs to the IMSA series. The 58th Rolex 24 will begin on Saturday, where the twice-around-the-clock event is sure to provide plenty of on-track drama.
The 24-hour race on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course will feature 38 entries spread across four different classes. This will be the smallest field of cars entered in the history of the iconic event. Despite the smaller car count and a few notable top-notch drivers sitting on the sidelines, the NTT IndyCar Series will once again be well represented.
Six Indianapolis 500 winners will participate again this year with Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Montoya. The number of IndyCar champions on the entry list grows to five when you add in Sebastien Bourdais.
Dixon has already won this legendary race twice before, but the five-time IndyCar champion will have a new challenge this year. He returns to the DPI class with Wayne Taylor Racing after Chip Ganassi’s Ford GTLM program came to an end. He and Ryan Briscoe will join Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 10 Cadillac.
Roger Penske has seemingly won everything imaginable over the past calendar year, on top of purchasing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar less than two months ago. His stable of drivers remains the same with two top-tier programs ready to challenge for the overall win. Pagenaud, Montoya, and Dane Cameron will share the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 while Rossi, Castroneves, and Ricky Taylor will drive the No. 7 DPI entry. The last time Team Penske won the 24-hour race at Daytona was in 1969.
Hunter-Reay will be back in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P with Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell. The Indy 500 winner and series champion has come close many times since his first race here in 2007. He finished runner-up in 2013 with Wayne Taylor Racing and third in 2016 with Visit Florida Racing. Making his 13th start this weekend, Hunter-Reay seeks to add to his already impressive resume.
Bourdais is joining Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Cadillac at JDC-Miller Motorsports, who recently partnered with Mustang Sampling Racing. The four-time champ no longer has a full-time ride in IndyCar, but still plans on racing in the series this season. Defending Rolex 24 class winner Colton Herta will be back with BMW Team RLL in the No. 25 M8 GTE with Connor de Phillippi.
Katherine Legge is part of an all-female driver lineup at GEAR (Girls Empowerment Around Racing) in a Lamborghini in the GTD class. Mike Conway returns with Whelen Engineering/Action Express Racing in the No. 31 Cadillac. Matheus Leist and Tristan Vautier will team up as part of the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry.
Colin Braun is one of many talented drivers that had to scramble to find a ride after last season. The 17-time IMSA race winner will race an LMP2 with Ben Hanley at DragonSpeed but has not announced his future plans after the CORE Autosport closure. The American has been rumored to be interested in an IndyCar seat should the opportunity arise.
Fresh off capturing his second NASCAR Cup title, Kyle Busch will make his Rolex 24 debut in the No. 14 Lexus RC-F GT3 for AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing. One of the drivers he will share driving duties with is Jack Hawksworth. Both Townsend Bell and Aaron Telitz will compete in the No. 12 sister car. AJ Allmendinger will be driving the No. 57 Acura NSX for Meyer Shank Racing. Other NASCAR drivers like Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, and Hailie Deegan will compete in Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge event.
Jordan Taylor has moved to the GTLM class, driving the No. 3 for Corvette Racing in their new mid-engine C8.R machine. Jordan has spent the last seven years in prototypes but also had plenty of time racing in GT early in his career.
Practice and qualifying for the event kicks off today in Daytona. Television coverage of the 58th annual event begins Saturday at 1:30 PM ET on NBC. NBC Sports Network will air the race from 2:30 PM – 6 PM and from 11 PM – 3 AM, returning at 6 AM Sunday. The final 90 minutes of the race will air on NBC at noon on Sunday. In addition to all of the different NBC platforms, IMSA Radio will broadcast the race on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com, and on SiriusXM Radio.