Archive for the ‘ 24 Hours of Daytona ’ Category

Sunday – Jan.26 – 2:10pm


Checkered flag for another Rolex 24 and another INDYCAR champion in Daytona.  Sebastien Bourdais and his ActionExpress Racing teammates drove an incredible race and it paid off.  They are the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona champions.  Now, in 6 of the last 11 years an INDYCAR driver has been on the winning team at the twice-round the clock classic in Florida.

Overall, what an event.  Tons of incredible action and every single one of the INDYCAR drivers performed well.  Unfortunately, as is often the case in endurance racing, the cars didn’t hold up.  Here’s how the drivers representing the IndyCar Series finished in the 2014 Rolex 24:

  • Sebastien Bourdais – P1 Overall, P1 Prototype Class
  • Simon Pagenaud – P11 Overall, P7 Prototype Class
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay – P12 Overall, P3 GTLM Class
  • Graham Rahakl – P14 Overall, P4 GTLM Class
  • Scott Dixon/Tony Kanaan – P15 Overall, P8 Prototype Class
  • Mikhail Aleshin – P21 Overall, P4 GTD Class
  • Sage Karam – P43 Overall, P11 Prototype Class
  • Justin Wilson – P47 Overall, P12 Prototype Class
  • James Davidson – P48 Overall, P22 GTD Class
  • Tristan Vautier – P56 Overall, P13 Prototype Class
  • James Hinchcliffe – P57 Overall, P14 Prototype Class
  • Conor Daly/Alex Tagliani – P58 Overall, P8 LMPC Class
  • Gabby Chaves – P61 Overall, P16 Prototype Class
  • Sebastian Saavedra/EJ Viso – P62 Overall, P17 Prototype Class

We’re still buzzing a bit from that finish.  More importantly, we can’t wait for the start of the INDYCAR season.

We’ll have quotes and updates from Sebastien in just a few minutes.

Sunday – Jan. 26 – 1:45pm

Just about 25 minutes remain and the #5 being co-driven by Sebastien Bourdais currently leads the Rolex 24.  Sebastien drove a very fast stint to put the car up front and Joao has been the model consistency since he jumped in the car.  It’s looking more and more like we’re going to see another victory by an INDYCAR driver at the Rolex 24.  Dixon and his #02 teammates were having another strong run as well.  Unfortunately, the floor of the car began to unravel and it was considered unrepairable.  Apparently, Dixon could see the track surface beneath his feet.  Crazy!

It’s going to be a fight to the finish.  The top two cars are only 10 seconds apart and you can be sure the #10 being driven by Max Angelelli is pushing as hard as possible!

Sunday – Jan.26 – 12:35pm


We’re officially under two hours remaining in the race.  What does that mean?  Aggression!  These drivers are pushing the cars to their absolute limits in order to make a charge to the front and the potential win.  Currently Sebastien Bourdais leads the field in the #5 ActionExpress DP.  2013 INDYCAR Champion Scott Dixon is back behind the wheel of the #0 and is turnining some of the fastest laps on the track.  He’s currently listed as 1 lap down.  If a caution comes out, Scott could potentially get his lap back and be in contention for the victory.  Ryan Hunter-Reay’s #91 Viper is currently 3rd in class and teammate Marc Goosens is driving. Dirk Werner is currently at the helm of the machine he’s sharing with INDYCAR star Graham Rahal they are in the 15th position overall, 4th in his class.  Justin Wilson is in the seat of the #60 but is currently P47 overall.

It’s bound to be an incredible finish.  Don’t miss these final 90 minutes!

Sunday – Jan.26 – 11:07am

Sage Karam just recently turned the car back over to Scott Pruett and stopped by the media center to chat.  He mentioned that prior to the start of the race he’d only had 1 hour in the car.  He spent roughly 6 hours in the car across his two stints this weekend.  Driving these cars require heavy focus and Sage told us that he was so focused on his pit stop/drive change and hitting his marks that he forgot to undo his belts to get out of the car.  This was Sage’s first experience with pit stops, sports car racing, sharing cars with teammates, and a car with a roof.  Needless to say, it was a big learning experience for Sage.  He did a great job during his stints and this young driver is sure to have a great career ahead.  He’s excited to have got the opportunity to work with Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend is hopeful that an opportunity will present itself for him to have a full-time ride in 2014.

Sunday – Jan.26 – 10:45am

Just over 3 hours remain in the Rolex 24.  The pace continues to increase as we approach the final laps of this event.  Sebastien Bourdais just climbed in the #5 and is dealing with a clutch/gearbox issue.  His teammate Christian Fittipaldi said it was an issue but was manageable.  Sebastien’s pace doesn’t appear to be effected by the issue.  Indianapolis 500 Champion, Tony Kanaan is in the 4th position about a minute behind Bourdais.  Ryan Hunter-Reay is running in the 4th position in the GTLM class, he’s looking strong in these last hours.  Sage Karam is back in the #01 and after several issues over the night they’re in the 9th position in the Prototype class.  A full-course caution has just been waved after the #18 GTD Porsche spun in turn 2.  Make sure you tune in and follow along here to see the sprint to the finish!

Sunday – Jan.26 – 7:30am

The sun is out.  The cars are green.  There’s been no cautions for fog.  All in all, a fantastic start to the last hours of daylight for the Rolex 24.  The INDYCAR drivers continue to make fans proud.  Currently Scott Dixon sits in the 2nd position in the #02.  Simon Pagenaud is running P19, Vautier P52, Hinchcliffe P55 (out of the race), Saavedra P58 (out of the race).  Ryan Briscoe and his beautiful #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R made the tough decision to call it quits overnight due to an overheating motor.  Conor Daly and Alex Tagliani unfortunately retired from the race after teammate Rusty Mitchell made contact with the barrier.  James Davison is behind the wheel of the #007 and is in 47th position.

We’ve taken a brief nap, changed clothes, and had a fresh cup of coffee.  We’re ready to dive back into the coverage of this twice-around the clock classic.  The pace is picking up and racing is become more ruthless.  Drivers aren’t as patient or passive as they were in the past 18 hours.  It’s sure to be battle to the end.  Who’s your pick for victory?

Sunday – Jan.26 – 1:32am

We’re just shy of the half-way point and it’s been quite an experience so far.  We’ve seen a massive accident, several multiple car accidents, debris scattered all over the track and a total of 9 full-course cautions.  Currently, we’re operating under a caution after the #87 spun off the track and subsequently caught fire.

INDYCAR drivers continue to showcase just how talented they all are.  Scott Dixon was listed as the leader prior to this caution.  He exited the pits after a yellow flag pit stop in P4 overall.  Ryan Briscoe is behind the wheel of the #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and sits in P14 Overall, P5 in the GTLM class.  We did just receive a report that they are dealing with a water leak and have made several pit stops since the yellow came out.  Alex Tagliani is back behind the wheel after Conor Daly completed a 3 hour stint.  Currently the #08 is in P28 overall and P6 in the GTLM class.  Simon Pagenaud is on-track again and is currently running in P37 Overall and P9 in the Prototype class.  Tristan Vautier and Sebastien Saavedra are in P57 and 58 respectively.

We inch closer and closer to the half-way point and there’s a ton of action still to go.  We’re still going strong and will continue to update you through the night.

Saturday – Jan.25 – 8:38pm

As promised, here’s the quick update regarding Gidley and Malucelli… both of the drivers have been admitted to the local hospital here in Daytona.  They are awake and communicative.  As more information is made available we will pass it along.

Saturday – Jan.25 – 8:11pm

2013 Indianapolis 500 Champion, Tony Kanaan, just stopped by the media center after his impressive stint in the #02.  Tony had some issues at the start of his stint but stated that he decided that he at least had to return the car in the same position as it was when got in.  The result was a spirited charge to the front of the pack that featured some outside passes and very close, wheel-to-wheel racing.  Tony truly is one of the greatest drivers, not only in INDYCAR, but in any car.  He mentioned that he’d only had a few laps prior to his stint in the race tonight and that he felt there was quite a bit of pressure as his teammates were all successful endurance racers.  He also let everyone know that Chip told him, “Unless a meteor hits the car, everything else would be my fault.”  That received quite the round of laughter from the crowd here in the media center.  Tony is someone to keep an eye on over the next 18 hours.  He’s made it clear he’s going to be extremely aggressive behind the wheel.  After their pit stop, and subsequent driver change, the car sits in the P8 position with Kyle Larson in the seat.

Saturday – Jan.25 – 7:37pm


Graham Rahal just swung through the media center to update everyone on his stint.  He mentioned that adapting to this style of racing has been an interesting experience for him.  Traction control which is not a feature of the INDYCAR, is something the drivers utilize heavily in sports car racing.  Graham stated that he’s used to using his right foot to control the car and it’s taken a bit of time to get used to leaning on the traction control.  He mentioned that the cars were much heavier than the IndyCar’s that he’s typically used to driving and it doesn’t quite suit his driving style. However, he said that he’s been having a blast at the wheel of the #56 BMW.  He’s hoping that the Viper’s have some trouble over the next few hours as they seem to have the most outright speed.  He’ll be back in the car later this evening for a longer stint of night driving.  He’ll get about a 3 hour break and then he’ll jump back in for another 3 hour stint.  His team is currently running P6 in the GTLM class.

Saturday – Jan.25 – 7:00pm


We’re fully back into racing and it seems with every second there’s something new developing on-track.  Most recently, the Delta Wing, currently being driven by Indy Lights runner-up Gabby Chavez, had a brief off and nosed the car into the tire barriers.  They quickly returned to the pits and changed out the nose bodywork on the car and are back on-track.  They currently are running in the 15th position in the Prototype class.

Indy 500 champ, Tony Kanaan, is currently giving chase to the leader from the 2nd position.  Justin Wilson is in the seat for Michael Shank Racing and is making a charge from the 6th position.  Viso, in the #78, is holding steady in the 9th position, one lap down.

The circuit is currently under a full-course yellow condition after a spin by the #09 LMPC spinning in the International Horseshoe.  The #09 is the sister car to the #08 being driven by Alex Tagliani and Conor Daly.  They currently are in the 24th position overall and are running 4th in their class. Unfortunately, Conor’s team was penalized due to an improper pass during the wave-around after the red flag situation earlier.

We’re heading back out to grab some more photos from the evening.  We’ll be back with those and quotes from the steady stream of drivers we’ll begin to see in the media center here shortly.  Tweet us your questions or leave them below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Saturday – Jan.25 – 6:00pm

After an extended red flag for the accident earlier involving Memo Gidley and Malucelli, we’re approaching a return to green flag racing.  We can’t provide much of an update other than that both drivers have been transported to the local hospital.  When more information is passed along we’ll be sure to include it in an update.

As we prepare to return to racing here’s a run down of where the INDYCAR drivers and their teams are currently positioned:

  • Sebastien Bourdais – P1 Overall (Fittipaldi is behind the wheel at this time).
  • Tony Kanaan – P2 Overall
  • Saavedra/Viso – P4 Overall
  • Sage Karam – P6 Overall (Rojas is in the car).
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay – P11 Overall, P1 in GTLM Class (Farnbacher is in the car).
  • Conor Daly/Alex Tagliani – P 16 Overall, P1 LMPC Class (Cummings is in the car).
  • Ryan Briscoe – P18 Overall, P6 GTLM Class (Garcia is in the car).
  • Graham Rahal – P19 Overall, P7 GTLM Class
  • James Davison – P51 Overall, P22 GTD Class (Davis is in the car).

Unfortunately, there’s not much more to report at the moment.  We’ll be back with more action in a bit.  Don’t forget to send us your tweets and show your support for the INDYCAR drivers in the Rolex 24!

Saturday – Jan.25 – 4:15pm

This continues to be one of the more intense starts to the Rolex 24 in recent memory.  The #01 car that will soon be driven by Sage Karam came in for a stop earlier.  Unfortunately, the car was dropped prior to the left rear wheel being secured and in the chaos the driver made contact with one of the crew members.  Thankfully, everyone is ok.  An interesting stumble early in the race.

There’s been quite a bit of contact as well.  None of the INDYCAR drivers have made contact so everyone continues into the late afternoon.

Alex Tagliani is behind the wheel for his first stint in the #08 LMPC.  His team appears strong and it should be exciting to see 2013 Indianapolis 500 Rookie, Conor Daly, get behind the wheel later this evening.  They are currently leading their class.

Scott Dixon continues to lead the Prototype class in the #02. Graham Rahal’s #56 car just entered pit lane for a driver switch and Graham will now be behind the wheel.  Currently they sit in 9th position in the GTLM class.

Ryan Briscoe’s team is sitting one position ahead of Graham in the 8th position in the GTLM class.  James Hinchcliffe is in the #70 LMPC.  Unfortunately, the team seems to be struggling and they are currently running in the 62nd overall position.

Saturday – Jan. 25 – 3:15pm

GREEN FLAG!  We’re off and running.  Just over 1 hour into the race.  Scott Dixon is still behind the wheel of the #02 and is currently running in 1st position.  The ActionExpress Racing DP is running in 9th position, Sebastien Bourdais has not been in the car yet.  The #01 car, currently driven by Scott Pruett, that will later feature Sage Karam at the helm is currently running in 11th position overall, roughly 58 seconds behind the leader.  The Delta Wing that will later be driven by Gabby Chavez sits in the 1oth position overall, Justin Wilson’s teammate, Oz Negri Jr sits directly behind them in the 12th position.  The rest of the drivers and their respective teams are in the following positions:

  • #70 – Tristan Vautier/James Hinchcliffe – P 61
  • #2 – Simon Pagenaud – P44 – Contact with the barrier just a moment ago with Van Overbeek behind the wheel.
  • #78 – Sebastian Saavedra/EJ Viso – P11
  • #08 – Conor Daly/Alex Tagliani  – P16, P4 in LMPC Class
  • #3 – Ryan Briscoe  – P27 Overall, P8 in GTLM Class
  • #56 – Graham Rahal – P30 Overall, P10 in GTLM Class
  • #91 – Ryan Hunter-Reay – P18 Overall, P2 in GTLM Class
  • #007 – James Davison – P56 Overall, P27 in GTD Class

It’s sure to be an exciting race as there has been a ton of action already. Simon Pagenaud’s team is working to repair their damage.  The INDYCAR group is looking strong with Dixon in the lead.  More coming soon!

Saturday – Jan. 25 – 12:45pm

It’s almost go time!  We’re putting our camera equipment together and scouting locations for where we’re going to head for the start.  There’s going to be some great racing at the start of this event (and throughout for that matter.  Make sure you’re tuned in earlier.  Part of the culture of this event is the preparation prior to the start.  Not just the cars, the teams and the drivers but the media and fans.  We spent some time at Target last night picking up coffee, red bull, sunflower seeds and an assortment of other items to keep us going during the 24hr stint.  Now, we want to see your setups and preperation!  Marshall Pruett, from RACER.com, posted a tweet earlier today asking you to send us your photos.  So, get to sending those in and we’ll retweet and reply.

Speaking of Marshall, he recently did some in-depth research on the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.  The same car that Ryan Briscoe will be driving in the Rolex 24.

There is some seriously cool technical information contained within his presentation, like the fact that the engine had to be DETUNED from the production model to meet up with the IMSA regulations.  That’s quite the statement.  Head over to Road&Track.com and check out the rest of the presentation now!

Saturday – Jan. 25 – 11:30am

We’re creeping closer to the green flag and the excitement is ramping up here at Daytona.  There has been a multitude of press conferences in the media center, some vintage track laps, and the autograph session is about to begin.  The autograph session is one of the coolest parts of the Rolex 24.  All the drivers are lined up in front of their garage with their teammates for a full-field autograph session.  It’s probably one of the only opportunities you can get autographs from so many champions from so many different series and disciplines in on one location.  We’ll be posting a few pics later.

One of the questions we’ve been asked is in regard to which INDYCAR drivers are starting for their respective teams.  Scott Dixon will be starting in the #02, Alex Tagliani will be starting in the #08, and James Davison will be first behind the wheel in the #007.  The remainder of the INDYCAR pilots will be stepping into the car later in the 1,440 minute event.

Again, we’re going to be here for the entirety of the event and will bring you all the content we can.  It’s important we hear from you as to what you’re looking for from us!  So tell us what you want to see, stories you want to hear, etc.  We’ll get out there and get it done!

Saturday – Jan. 25 – 9:45AM

It’s officially Race Day!  We’re beyond excited to get this thing off and rolling and get the party started.  We heard some of your requests for a spotters guide that is specific to the INDYCAR drivers competing in the event.  So, here you have it.  You may notice that the #78 doesn’t feature Sebastian Saavedra or EJ Viso.  Due to the late nature of their entry they were not a part of the spotters guide.  Rest assured that they are in fact racing in the #78 Starworks Daytona Prototype.  We hope you find it helpful!

At the end of the day, RACER.com writer, Marshall Pruett caught up with Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon and their TUSC teammate Memo Rojas.  The subsequent interview is quite hilarious.  Over the course of such a long race these drivers seem to get a bit bored outside the car.  As a result, interesting antics ensue.

So, we’ve spent the past couple of days here and we’re feeling pretty confident in picking our favorites for the race.   Before we do that we want to hear your favorites and dark horses.  Send along your predictions in the comments below.  We’ll post another update later this morning.  Happy Race Day!

Friday – Jan. 24 – 2:10PM

Final practice for the Rolex 24 is complete.  Richard Westbrook turned the overall fastest lap in the final session with a 1:38.964 in his Corvette DP.  The INDYCAR drivers and their respective teams rounded out the session in the following positions:

  • Sebastien Bourdais – P3 Overall – 1:39.665 (Christian Fittipaldi turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Scott Dixon/Tony Kanaan – P4 Overall – 1:39.822 (Scott turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Sage Karam – P5 Overall – 1:39.835 (Memo Rojas turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Simon Pagenaud – P12 Overall – 1:41.528 (Johannes Van Overbeek turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Justin Wilson – P13 Overall – 1:41.675 (AJ Allmendinger turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Conor Daly/Alex Tagliani – P21 Overall, P6 PC Class – 1:45.349 (Conor turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Ryan Briscoe – P26 Overall, P3 GTLM Class – 1:45.934(Jan Magnussen turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Graham Rahal – P30 Overall, P7 GTLM Class – 1:46.309 (Dirk Mueller turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay – P33 Overall, P10 GTLM Class – 1:46.435 (Marc Goosens turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Mikhail Aleshin – P51 Overall, P17 GTD Class – 1:49.495 (Sergey Zlobin turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • James Davison – P54 Overall, P20 GTD Class -1:49.830 (Al Carter turned the fastest lap for the team in practice).
  • Gabby Chavez – No laps turned.
  • Tristan Vautier – No laps turned.

With the final session often being a simple shake down to make sure things are prepped for the big show tomorrow the results aren’t necessarily a prediction for the race.  Especially considering many of the teams used the session to get drivers who hadn’t had as much time in the car to get prepped.  Still, it’s impressive to have 6 drivers from INDYCAR inside the top 15 positions.

He has the name, the car and the number. Meet James Davison (“license to thrill”).  Davison, a Firestone Indy Lights race winner who competed in two IndyCar Series races last season for Dale Coyne Racing, is co-driving the No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage for TRG-AMR in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  The team had a bit of James Bond fun in the garage area, posing in tuxedos with the car.  Davison, 27, of Australia, said he’s cautiously optimistic of making his Indianapolis 500 debut in May.

We managed to gather most of the drivers this afternoon for aquick group shot.  Unfortunately, many of them weren’t able to make it.  Still, it was a great opportunity to get the INDYCAR contingent together for a few minutes.  There was quite a bit of handling discussions as well as tips on properly navigating slower traffic.

Here’s how the INDYCAR drivers will start tomorrow for the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona:

  • Sebastien Bourdais – P3
  • Scott Dixon/Tony Kanaan – P5
  • Gabby Chavez – P7
  • Sage Karam – P8
  • Justin Wilson – P9
  • Conor Daly/Alex Tagliani – P19
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay – P24
  • Graham Rahal – P30
  • James Davison – P35
  • Mikhail Aleshin – P40
  • James Hinchcliffe – P59
  • Tristan Vautier – P60
  • Ryan Briscoe – P62
  • Sebastian Saavedra – P65

Action for the Rolex has come to a close for today.  So, we’re going to head over to Target and get our equipment for the long haul tomorrow.  We’ll update with a few more photos this afternoon.  Don’t forget to let us know what you’re hoping to have us show you over the next few days.  We’ll do our best to get out there and find it for you.  Overall, we’re excited and can’t wait to get this thing started!

Friday – Jan. 24 – 10:00AM

Good news race fans, RACING IS BACK!  The Rolex 24 marks the kick-off of the racing season and we couldn’t be happier to be here.  This year features not only one of the strongest fields in recent memory but there is a massive contingent from the INDYCAR paddock taking to the track this weekend.  Drivers from Indy Lights to the IndyCar Series are piloting cars in several different classes.  Overall, 30 competitors in this years event have competed in an INDYCAR race.  16 of those 30 have won at least 1 race in the IndyCar Series.  While that’s certainly impressive in its own right, what really shows the strength of INDYCAR drivers in the Rolex 24 is the fact that in the last 10 years INDYCAR drivers have won five of the races.

What does all that mean?  We’re in for quite the show!  I’m beyond excited to get this event started.  Not only is it great to see all the incredible drivers from the IndyCar Series behind the wheel this early in the year but the merged sports car series with new cars and drivers should be spectacular to follow.  So, here’s our plan… we’re going to bring you all the inside info and behind the scenes images from this event.  Starting today and going through the checkered flag on Sunday (yes, all 24 hours of the race) we will be providing frequent updates to this post.  So bookmark it, tweet it, share it on Facebook, email it to your friends.  This will be the one-stop shop for all things INDYCAR at the Rolex 24.  Are there things you want to see or information you’re looking for?  Let us know in the comments below and we’ll get out there and find it for you!

It started as a fun wager, which maybe in the back of Michael Shank’s mind he didn’t think would have to be paid. But it did, courtesy of Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian’s victory Jan. 28 in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the effusive team owner couldn’t be happier to settle the obligation.

Today, Shank has AJ Allmendinger’s logo – flames and all – replacing thick hair on the back of his noggin.

Michael Shank has a new look.

The impromptu wager was set in December, with Allmendinger (a co-driver with Justin Wilson, Oswaldo Negri Jr. and John Pew in the endurance race) capturing it on video. The buzz is now viral. WATCH THE REVEAL

“I still can’t believe it,” Shank said. “Before the race even finished I’ve got hundreds of texts, emails and calls. It’s overwhelming but we are all relishing this because we know how hard it is to win one of these things.  It all comes down to the people who I’m working with. They did the job this weekend and I have always felt lucky to be working with them. Hopefully this is just that start to what we hope to be a very big year for us.”

That’s both in the Grand Am Series and IZOD IndyCar Series. As noted in indycar.com’s Rolex 24 post-script, Shank also is putting the final touches on the MSR Indy team for the 2012 season. Indy car veteran Paul Tracy acknowledged on pit lane that he’ll be the driver. Allmendinger, who will begin his journey with Penske Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team this month, also is a principal in MSR Indy.

“I still love open-wheel racing. That’s why I have a partnership with Mike Shank and his IndyCar team,” said Allmendinger, a former CART competitor, during a teleconference Feb. 1. “I’m going to enjoy being a part of that, and hopefully seeing it grow to where it’s a competitive race team, and we can go out there and contend for victories during the IndyCar Series. I still have a huge interest in open-wheel racing.”

Shank has penciled in Allmendinger to drive the Daytona Prototype in the inaugural Grand-Am event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August as part of the NASCAR weekend.

“For me, Indianapolis is the place,” Shank said. “It’s hallowed ground. It’s where I grew up. It’s what I always dreamed to be. So when we tested there a couple years ago with our car, I drove the car a little bit, which is frightening for everyone else to see me do that. It was a great thing. I can’t wait.”

Added Allmendinger: “It’s Indy. It’s the same thing as when you talk about Daytona. You just say the racetrack’s name, and it doesn’t matter what you’re racing there, whether it’s an Indy car, a Cup car, Grand-Am car, motorcycle, whatever, you just say the name Indy and it’s special.”

24 Hours Down… Checkered Flag

The race has ended and what an ending it was.  I would have never thought when I came to Daytona to take part in the 24 hour endurance race that it would come down to a green-white-checkered finish.  It’s pretty astonishing to think about when you look back at all the events that took place over the past day.  Cars have been in and out of the race, entire brake systems have been changed, leaders have gone laps down, and fog caused a 3 hour caution period.  Still, despite the 721 laps ran and the 2,566.76 miles traveled, the race came down to 4 cars on the lead lap going for it on the absolute last lap of the race.

The #02 team put in a valiant effort all race long.  They changed brakes, splitters, and solve assorted other issues over the course of 24 hours.  Ultimately, a late pit stop would keep them from victory lane.  All the drivers were still quite proud of the 2nd place finish (except Juan Pablo who said “Come on, I’m here to freakin’ win”).

Dario Franchitti jokes with media at the press conference

Dario Franchitti jokes with the media

The #10 car battled all morning and afternoon long trying to get back on the lead lap and they came very close numerous times.  Ryan Briscoe and his co-driers Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, and Ricky Taylor would end the day in 5th position just one lap down.

Justin Wilson and his Michael Shank Racing teammates chased the lead lap most of the race as well.  Still, they finished a respectable 7th place.

Just a couple spots behind Justin and his teammates was the #95 driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos.  Their car went down a couple laps early on in the race and bounced around from 13th place to 10th place for most of the 24 hours.  At the end of the day they crossed the start finish in 11th position.

E.J. Viso and his Starworks Motorsport #2 team battled several mechanical issues all race long.  They finished the race, but in a tough and hard earned 32nd position, 144 laps down.

The real story of the day was the #01 Chip Ganssi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona prototype.  Graham Rahal and his teammates Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, and Memo Rojas were a force to be reckoned with all day long.  Despite losing the lead as a result of a late race penalty for hitting pit equipment Graham and crew were able to propel the car back to the front and ultimately victory lane.

Scott Pruett shows his love for the Rolex 24 trophy

Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand celebrate in victory lane

A proud day for Chip Ganassi as he continues to dominate all the various forms of motorsport in which his teams participate.  Many members of the media have been calling this the “Chip Slam” in regards to the fact that in 1 year his teams have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Grand-Am Championship, the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship, and as of 3:31 this afternoon the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.  Very impressive to say the least and I’m extremely excited to see how his INDYCAR program will run this year.  One more interesting tidbit… 30 years ago Graham’s father Bobby Rahal won this exact race.

Overall, it was a great race, an incredible experience, and something I’ll never forget.  If you ever get the chance to attend this event… do it.  Try your best to stay up for the entire race and make sure you walk to every corner you can.  As for now… it’s time to sleep.

23 Hours Down 2:30 PM:

1 hour to go and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon is in a commanding position in front of the field.  Scott has been super quick all day and night and looks poised to stay out front.

Scott Dixon leading the field in the #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona prototype

Scott Dixon leads the field

Not far behind in 4th place is Scott’s teammate, Scott Pruett, who’s trying to work his way back through the field after his co-driver Joey Hand received a stop-and-go penalty after hitting pit equipment.

Scott Pruett at the controls of the #01

Scott Pruett negotiates GT class traffic on his way back to the front

Just behind Pruett is Ryan Briscoe’s co-driver Max Angelelli in the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara.  Ryan had this to say when asked about his thoughts of the race so far:

“We definitely tested the equipment because I don’t think I’ve done a lap today at 80 percent; it’s been 100 percent all day long, all night long.  I’ve done three long stints now, and every single one they told me to push as hard as I could.  It’s been frustrating because the second time I got in the car we got all the way to just one lap down, and then we had another issue with a wheel.  We’ve been catching up, the car is really strong.  The car felt fast, with really good traction.  The car’s good.  The brakes have been really consistent.  The battle continues.  We’ve got a long way to go.”

Ryan Briscoe in the #10

Max Angelelli pushes the #10, attempting to get up to the front

A.J. Allmendinger is behind the wheel of the #6 and is currently in 7th place but is gaining on the 6th place car of Ricardo Zonta.  Ryan Hunter-Reay’s teammate Richard Westbrook is in the #95 and holding steady in 11th place.  E.J. Viso is in 32nd position in the #2 Starworks Motorsport Daytona prototype.

1 hour to go and it’s going to be a close race.  Recent cautions have bunched the field up even more.  Be sure to keep your eyes on the #01 and the #10 as they’re going to be pushing as hard as they physically can to get towards the front.  Look for an exciting finish!

21 Hours Down 12:30 PM:

This race has turned into quite a battle.  All the drivers on track are pushing as hard as possible.  Juan Pablo Montoya put on quite a show in the #02 with some extremely close racing.  There was plenty of contact all around the circuit and later on he began to battle with Joey Hand in the #01 car.  Juan came in and swapped seats with Jamie McMurray.

Juan Pablo climbs out of the #02 while Jamie McMurray waits to jump in

Juan Pablo Montoya climbs out of the #02 while Jamie McMurray waits

Jamie stayed out for a relatively short stint and just recently pitted and swapped spots with Scott Dixon.  Dixon is now in the lead and pushing hard to extend his gap.  The #01 was in the lead but during the last round of pit stops the #01 hit a piece of pit equipment while exiting and received a stop and go penalty as a result. They are currently in 4th place.

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara comes in for a stop

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara enters pit lane

Ricky Taylor is behind the wheel of the #10, being co-driven by Ryan Briscoe, and they’ve been making substantial gains since my last post.  They currently sit in 6th position (up from 10th).  Michael McDowell is in the middle of his stint in the car he’s sharing with Justin Wilson and they are right behind the #10 in 7th position.  Ryan Hunter-Reay continues to hang on to the tail end of the lead group in 12th position.  E.J. Viso is back in the car and is currently in 32nd position. Patrick Dempsey’s team seems to have corrected their issue as they’re currently 4th in the GT class.

We’re coming down to the wire… stay tuned!

19 Hours Down 10:30 AM:

The sun is out and shining brightly and we’re back to sustained green flag racing.  We’ve had the occasional short caution for debris and car stalls but nothing compared to the 2 hour and 45 minute yellow we had earlier today.  Here’s some interesting facts regarding the 24 hours of Daytona and cautions:

In 1976, the race was stopped for 2 hours and 40 minutes due to contaminated fuel.

In 1983, the race was red flagged for 53 minutes due to heavy rain.

In 1989, the race was red flagged for 3 hours, 58 minutes due to fog.

In 2004, the race was red flagged for 2 hours, 52 minutes due t heavy rain. (This followed a three hour caution period!)

The long night is starting to catch up with drivers and crew as many are getting extremely tired.

Crew members try to grab some sleep whenever and wherever they can

Crew members grab some sleep wherever and whenever they can.

Patrick Dempsey was leading the GT class for a significant length of time but unfortunately was forced to go behind the pit wall for repairs.  He’s rejoined the race but is currently in the 3rd position in the GT class and 17th overall.

Patrick Dempsey's #40 heads behind the wall after having mechanical problems

Patrick Dempsey's #40 Mazda RX-8 is pushed behind the wall

Juan Pablo Montoya continues to lead the race in the #02 while Joey Hand is in the #01 giving chase.  They look to be the most dominant cars on track at the moment.

The field returns to green flag racing with #02 and #01 leading

The Ganassi Racing cars lead the pack back to green flag racing

Justin Wilson headed to the pits and took over the driving duties for the #6 from Michael McDowell.  He’s currently running in 5th place and A.J. Allmendinger will be returning to the car momentarily.

Justin Wilson heads to his pit box to start his final stint in the race

Justin Wilson heads to his pit box for his stint

Ryan Briscoe is currently behind the wheel of the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara.  He’s laying down some very fast laps lately (almost 3/4 of a second faster) and looks to be really turning it on late in the race.  Raphael Matos took over the #95 Michael Shank Racing Daytona prototype and is presently in 12th place.

Raphael Matos is ready to hop in the car and drive his last stint

Raphael Matos ready to jump in the car


16 Hours Down 7:30AM:

Well it’s been about 5 hours since I last checked in with you and I’d love to have some very exciting news for you but unfortunately it’s been a rather boring morning.  About 3 hours ago an extremely dense fog set in here in Daytona.  When I say dense, it was so thick you could barely see the cars on track.

A dense fog at Daytona International Speedway

A dense fog on track

As a result we’ve also been under caution for the past two hours and 45 minutes.  The sun has come up over the last couple hours and it appears as though the fog is lifting at a rapid pace.  They just announced that the race will be returning to green flag conditions in about 5 minutes.  The INDYCAR competitors in the race continue to run strong.  Scott Pruett is behind the wheel of Graham Rahal’s car and is currently pacing in 2nd position.  Dario is holding in the 4th position, Michael McDowell runs in Justin Wilsons ride in 5th position, Max Angelelli took over for Ryan Briscoe and is in 10th place, Ryan Hunter-Reay is in the cockpit and will restart the race from 13th position.  Enzo Potolicci is in the car for E.J. Viso and is currently cruising in 37th position.


11 Hours Down 2:30AM:

At this point there have been 12 cautions and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.  As you can probably imagine, driving a race car for 24 hours causes bits and pieces to rattle and vibrate their way loose.  As a result a TON of debris is scattered across different portions of the track throughout the course of the event.  Usually this doesn’t matter too much as the cars tend to brush the debris away from the track.  Occasionally debris comes off in big chunks and brings out full-course yellows.  6 of the 12 cautions tonight have been entirely because of debris.

Cars continue to go behind pit wall for repairs.  Many seem to be having brake troubles and as a result have been replacing their entire braking systems.  Obviously, this race is hard on brakes.  Currently the cars have done close to 400 laps, which is about 1,400 miles.  If you’re close enough to the cars you can actually hear which teams brakes are starting to fail.

The #02 hard on the brakes in the international horseshoe

The #02 lights up the brakes in the international horseshoe

The IZOD IndyCar Series drivers are putting in a stout effort thus far.  Justin Wilson was leading but his team just pitted for a drivers change subsequently relinquishing the lead (Currently 5th place with A.J. Allmendinger driving).  Graham Rahal is hustling the #01 around the track and is holding strong in 3rd place.  Ryan Briscoe is back in the cockpit for another stint and is chasing Allmendinger from the 6th position.  The #02 being driven by Scott Dixon once again is running in 7th place.  Richard Westbrook just recently took over for Raphael Matos and he is attempting to catch back up to the lead pack from the 17th position.  E.J. Viso gave the wheel to Alex Popow and they continue to struggle in the back in 42nd place.

The #10 pushing hard

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara

One more interesting fact… former IZOD IndyCar Series team owner and world-famous actor Patrick Dempsey and his teammates are currently leading the GT class in their #40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.

8 Hours Down 11:30 PM:

The on-track aggressiveness continues to plague the race thus far into the night.  There’s been several yellows since my last post and several more teams have gone behind the wall to repair damages sustained.

There's been extensive on track contact as this Camaro shows

Proof that it's been a rough race thus far

Ryan Briscoe stopped by the media center after his stints and when asked how his car was during his time behind the wheel he responded:

“Our car was fast for sure.  We are lacking a little bit of top speed which was frustrating and you don’t like running on the inside of the track.  It was hard to stay calm with 20 hours to go, you want to race.  But, there is a long way to go.  The car was really solid.  It was great that the guys kept us in front with a pit stop and with a driver change.  All the boys are doing a great job and hopefully we can stay off the GT cars, there is a lot of action going on out there.  It is still so early.  Hopefully we can keep the car clean and if we do, the car is very fast.”

Tight racing in the darkness

Ryan Briscoe behind the wheel of the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara

Ryan clearly seems confident in their chances heading into the rest of the race.  Currently the #10 is in 10th place with Max Angelelli behind the wheel.

Chip Ganassi racing is back in the lead after the #01 car had to do an early gearbox change as they were hitting the rev limiter while on the straights.  Quite an impressive drive from the #01 crew.  Dario Franchitti is once again behind the wheel of the #02 and is currently chasing the top 5 from 6th position.  Justin Wilson is about 28 seconds behind Dario running consistent laps.  In 24th position is the #95 with Ryan Hunter-Reay currently taking over driver duties.  E.J. Viso is also on track, but struggling a bit in 45th place.

4 Hours Down 7:30PM:

The race is now 1/6 of the way done and it certainly has had plenty of action.

Very close racing amongst multiple=

Multiple front runners have been in and out of the garage.  Jimmy Johnson and his team have just recently gone behind pit wall to fix an apparently failing brake system.  The cars are fully into night racing now and will stay that way for the next 10 or so hours.  The trend of drivers complaining about the aggressiveness on track continues as Jimmy Johnson remarked that he had to stop himself from spinning another driver who was frustrating him.

Currently, former Indianapolis 500 winner, Buddy Rice is in the lead.  Ricky Taylor is behind the wheel of the #10 being shared with Ryan Briscoe and they are currently in 4th position.  The #01 currently being operated by Memo Rojas is in 6th place, expect to see Graham Rahal behind the wheel soon.  Juan Pablo Montoya has taken the wheel of the #02 from Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and is currently chasing the lead group from 10th position.  Justin Wilson’s teammate Michael McDowell has taken over the driving duties for an hour or so and is holding steady in 2nd place.  Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos’ #95 Level 5 Motorsports prototype currently has Richard Westbrook behind the wheel and is at the tail end of the leading prototype pack in 13th position.

Oh and not to be forgotten…. The fans are still going strong.

Fans continue their tailgate partying

Fans enjoying an all night tailgate

1 Hour Down 5:15 PM:

Prior to the green flag I had the chance to head down to the grid to check out the cars before the race began.  It was PACKED.  Wall to wall people and trying to get close to our drivers was no easy task.

Quite a crowd on pitlane prior to the race

Quite a crowd on the grid

Bobby Rahal was with Graham giving him advice prior to the start.

Graham Rahal and his Father, Bobby Rahal, chat prior to the race

Graham Rahal and Bobby Rahal on the grid

The field left the grid and bunched up preparing to go around the clock twice.   The SunTrust Racing #10, which is being co-driven by Ryan Briscoe, would start from the second position right along side the pole sitter and new track record holder Jorg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Daytona prototype.

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara racing hard with the pole sitter

The SunTrust Racing #10 lined up next to the Flying Lizard Motorsports prototype

There was some hard racing for the first few laps and a caution came out early as a result of a few GT class cars coming together in the bus-stop.  The Ganassi cars were, as always, towards the front fighting for the lead.  Ryan Briscoe’s teammate Max Angelelli was also battling at the front.  There has been quite a bit of hard fighting happening on track.  Drivers have been coming into the media center after their stints remarking about how “silly” and aggressive drivers are being on track.  Max Angelelli seemed to think it was only going to get crazier as the track is going to cool down with the sun going down and the cars are going to get quicker.

The #10 and #01 racing hard through the bus-stop chicane

The SunTrust Racing #10 and Ganassi #01 battling it out.

Unfortunately the #02 being driven by Scott Dixon was forced to pit early from the lead pack on lap 30 after a tire failure.  Currently the IZOD IndyCar drivers are in the current positions:

P.6 – Ryan Briscoe #10 SunTrust Racing

P.10 – Justin Wilson #6 Michael Shank Racing

P.11 – Graham Rahal #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

P.12 – E.J. Viso #2 Starworks Motorsport

P.19 – Dario Franchitti/Scott Dixon #02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

P.26 – Ryan Hunter-Reay/Raphael Matos #95 Level 5 Motorsports

DRIVER AUTOGRAPHS 1:30 PM:

The driver autograph session that just ended this morning has to be one of the more impressive fan turn outs I’ve ever seen.  (Second only to the Indianapolis 500 driver autograph session).  Thousands of fans lined up to have a chance to get a picture and an autograph from their favorite drivers.

Lots of fans turning out for the driver autograph session

Fans lined up for the driver autograph session

Patrick Dempsey was on hand to sign some autographs as were all of our IZOD IndyCar Series competitors.

Patrick Dempsey, former INDYCAR team owner, smiles for a fan picture

Patrick Dempsey at the drive autograph session

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos are interviewed at the driver autograph session

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon sign some autographs with teammate Jamie McMurray

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon sign autographs with Jamie McMurray

RACE DAY MORNING 12:00 PM:

It’s race morning here in Daytona and I was rather surprised at the amount of fans heading into the track early this morning.

The clocks are counting down to the start

Fans enter the gates for the race

Endurance racing requires a high level of preparation and from what I’ve seen here so far, endurance tailgating needs the same amount of planning.  Grills are being loaded up with charcoal, shelters are being constructed with everything from tarps to tents, and coolers are being filled and iced down.  I hadn’t really been thinking about what it would be like to be fan at a 24 hour race as I’ve been mainly focused on the INDYCAR drivers.  It must be quite an experience to start the “party” at 3:30pm and challenge yourself to carry through to 3:30pm the next day.

Fans are setup in the infield for the long day ahead

Fans are setup in the infield for the long day

The teams have been putting the final touches on the cars for the green flag this afternoon.  Some are still finishing putting all the pieces together while others are already filling the cars with fuel.

The #02 car is rolled to the fuel pumps

The #02 is pushed to the fuel pumps

The race should be very interesting.  E.J. Viso, who joined the team late in the day yesterday, will take the green flag this afternoon for what will be only his fifth lap ever in a Daytona prototype.  E.J. was only able to turn 4 laps yesterday so he’s going to be learning on the fly today and tonight.  Viso is a quick and aggressive driver so be sure to keep an eye on him.  Justin Wilson’s team is full of very strong road course drivers.  All of them have open wheel backgrounds and I’m sure they’ll be on the move early in the race.  Obviously you can’t forget about the Ganassi cars.  The #02 has five wins at Indianapolis across the 4 drivers and the #01 is last years Rolex Series champion (as well as employing Graham Rahal as a co-driver).  The energy is ramping up here in anticipation of the start of the race.  I hope you’re all as excited as I am.

Stay tuned… I’ll be back in a couple hours with another update!

Friday at Daytona International Speedway is substantially quieter.  While there appears to be tremendously more fans here today, the teams are a bit calmer and more organized.  Most teams have an idea of what their race strategy is going to be and they’ve built their setup accordingly.  Today is a bit of a dress rehearsal.  Drivers are practicing quick driver changes, teams are practicing pit stops, fans are picking out where they’re going to watch from, and photographers are scoping out their hotspots for race day.

The Friday morning practice session started out rather slowly as many teams were still putting the finishing touches on their cars from last night.  Most of the teams had the cars completely disassembled last night so there was quite a bit to be done this morning.

Crew members disassemble the cars

Crew members disassemble the car

Mechanics work on the motor

Mechanics work on the motor

The biggest portion of the morning practice was dominated by the GT class cars but when the Daytona prototypes made their way back on to track Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates showed that they weren’t concerned with their qualifying efforts yesterday.  Scott Pruett put the car at the top of the leader charts having run a 1:41.019.  Scott Dixon wasn’t far off either, finishing the session with a fast lap of 1:42.464, landing him in 3rd position.  Unfortunately, only four prototypes made it on to the track for the morning session so the other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors were forced to wait for the afternoon session.

During the downtime between practice sessions Chip Ganassi stopped by the media center to discuss his incredibly successful 2010 season.  When asked if he would be disappointed if his success did not continue in 2011 Chip responded with, “We’re always focused on the next race and that’s it.  It just so happens that this (Daytona) is the next race.  After this we’ll look forward to the next one.”

Chip Ganassi in the media center at Daytona International Speedway

Chip Ganassi in the media center

The second and final practice prior to the race took off at 11:00am and it would showcase the entire field.  There was quite a bit of action going on as everyone was making last minute install checks, practicing pit stops, and driver changes.

Crews practice pit stops and driver changes

Teams practicing driver changes

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing team would jump to the top of the timing charts for the first time this weekend with a 1:40.878.  The Ganassi cars would continue to flex their muscles finishing the session with the #01 in 2nd position and the #02 in 9th position.  Ryan Briscoe and his SunTrust Racing team would end the session in 7th place.  Justin Wilson’s team struggled finishing a tough 13th position.

Justin Wilson's #6 negotiates through some slower traffic

Justin Wilson negotiates through some slower traffic

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos’ car, which hadn’t run since final practice yesterday having skipped qualifying, was re-assembled just prior to practice and would finish the session a hard fought 15th place on the practice charts.  There are no more practice sessions between now and the race, so teams have taken to their respective garages once again.  They will spend the majority of the afternoon making sure the car is ready to go, tightening bolts down, changing fluids, and getting it shiny and new for the big day tomorrow.

Here’s where the INDYCAR drivers are starting:

3rd Place: Graham Rahal (with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Joey Hand)

5th Place: Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (with Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray)

8th Place: Justin Wilson (with A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell)

16th Place: E.J. Viso (with Alex Popow, Romain Iannetta, and Glynn Geddie)

17th Place: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos (with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook)

Once again, be sure to follow us tomorrow.  We’ll be live blogging starting at Noon (ET).  The race takes the green flag at 3:30pm (ET) and we’ll be there giving you all the inside info on our IZOD IndyCar Series drivers the entire time!

It’s been an interesting morning and afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Practice kicked off for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this morning and there was plenty of action to be seen.

Endurance racing is a different breed from the exciting world of the IZOD IndyCar Series. While, yes, ultimately it is a race and there’s a start and a finish; there are literally thousands of things that can go wrong over the course of 24 hours. As a result, practice for this event is quite a sight. Teams are scrambling to put together race setups as well as find that extra bit of speed for the qualifying session in the afternoon. It takes a high level of preparation combined with dependable equipment and super-fast drivers.

The 2010 Rolex Series Champions Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates 2010 Rolex Series Champions

Showing that they look to continue to dominate the Grand Am series Team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates jumped to the top of the practice charts in the first session.

Dario Franchitti was behind the wheel of the #02 TELMEX/Target Daytona prototype that he will be sharing with co-drivers Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Quite a lineup with four Indianapolis 500 wins and one Brickyard 400 win amongst them. Dario laid down a quick lap of 1:40.54 which was good enough for the top position. The #01 Target/TELMEX struggled in the morning session having turned a 1:41.002 which was good enough for 7th place on the charts.

Grand-Am practice is quite interesting to watch. There are multiple classes on track at the same time so it can breed some hairy situations. If you’re ever lucky enough to attend a Grand-Am event or the 24-Hours of Daytona be sure to find a seat at the end of a long straight into a heavy braking zone. The Daytona prototypes have so much more power than the GT class cars that they make massive gains on the straights (and the corners for that matter). As a result as they approach heavy braking zones often times DP drivers have to make last second decisions with the car to avoid contact and negotiate passes.

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

Practice two took off later in the day and showed that there were some other forces to be reckoned with in the paddock. Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe’s team for the weekend showed they’re ready to run up front. Ryan, co-driving with Wayne Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli, helped his team post a fast lap of 1:40.340 putting them in P1 for the final practice session before qualifying.

Ryan Briscoes ride he'll be sharing with Wayne Taylor, Jordan Taylor, and Max Angelelli

The SunTrust Racing #10 that will be piloted by Ryan Briscoe

Justin Wilson and his Michael Shank Racing teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell picked up the pace and finished the session in 5th place with a quick lap of 1:40.902.

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

The Ganassi cars seemed to struggle a bit, compared to the first session, with the #01 finishing in 7th place and the #02 ending up in 12th position. The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley, which is being driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos in coordination with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook, that finished 5th in the first session dropped five positions to end practice in 10th place.

Qualifying in Grand-Am is different from practice in that the classes qualify individually. Daytona International Speedway was recently repaved and post-practice all the drivers were commenting about how much faster the track was. It became clear just how much faster it was in qualifying. Jorg Bergmeister, who is competing in a Daytona prototype for the first time, would show that he’d found the fastest line around the course. Jorg and the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, a first year Daytona prototype team, laid down not only the fastest lap of the qualifying session but also a new Daytona prototype track record with a 1:40.099. Ryan Briscoe’s teammate and co-driver Max Angelelli put in a super strong effort finishing with a fast lap of 1:40.133 which was good enough for second place. Scott Pruett, who’s co-driving with IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, proved that he still hasn’t lost any pace with a lap of 1:40.245 landing him in 3rd place. Scott Dixon would take the wheel of the #02 for qualifying and would not disappoint. Scott put together a great lap with a 1:40.302 yielding him a 5th place starting position. A.J. Allmendinger would put Justin Wilson’s car towards the front with a 8th place grid spot. Unfortunately the #95 of Raphael Matos and Ryan Hunter-Reay did not qualify and will start in the 50th position.

The teams have now taken to the garages for the day to make changes for practice tomorrow as well as change engines. Tomorrow should be another interesting day. Be sure to check back and MAKE SURE you follow us on Saturday as we’ll be live blogging for the full 24 hours!