It was a wild 24 hours at Daytona International Speedway, and it all came down to the final five minutes to decide a winner in three classes.
A caution with just under half an hour left in the race for a stranded Andy Lally in the Michael Shank Racing Acura set up for a 20 minute sprint to the finish with Wayne Taylor Racing going up against Action Express Racing for the overall win.
With just more than five minutes left in the race, Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. dove to the inside of the No. 5 Action Express Racing driven at the time by Filipe Albuquerque in turns one and two. As Taylor got to the inside of Albuquerque, the No. 5 appeared to move to the inside to block Taylor’s momentum when contact was made, and the No. 5 was sent spinning. IMSA officials reviewed the incident, but took no action on the No. 10, and Taylor went on to win by a small margin of just over one-second.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy because Ricky was quicker all the time,” owner Wayne Taylor said of the incident between the Nos. 5 and 10. “He made a silly move, but we knew we were going to win this race.”
Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor win their first overall Rolex 24 win, while Max Angelelli, who retired at the end of the race, picked up his third Rolex watch. Jeff Gordon, in his second ever Rolex 24, also wins overall, becoming only the fourth driver to win both the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 500 behind Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Jamie McMurray.
“I haven’t been this emotional for a win and an experience like this for a very long time,” Gordon said. “The reason is because I know what this means to this team, Wayne, these kids, Max. Oh my gosh. This is amazing — Daytona has always been special, but this one sent me over the top. I’m just blown away right now.”
The incident between the two leading Cadillacs left many people scratching their heads, but none more than Albuquerque.
“I don’t think I lost this race to be honest because I don’t race like this,” he said.
The two GT classes, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona, both ended with less controversy, but the same action.
In an intense battle between the No. 66 Ford GT driven by Dirk Mueller and the Porsche No. 911 of Patrick Pilet, Mueller was able to pull out to a three-second lead in the closing minutes of the race to earn Ford Performance and Chip Ganassi Racing the GTLM win. Co-drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Joey Hand each won their second Rolex watches.
The GT Daytona race was won by a dark horse as the Alegra Motorsports Porsche driven by Michael Christensen came from a lap down with just under two hours left in the race to take the lead just an hour later, and snag a win. Alegra came into the race with plans to only run the Rolex 24. Father-son duo Carlos and 17-year-old Michael De Quesada won along with Christensen, and Canadians Daniel Morad and Jesse Lazare.
The Prototype Challenge race was less exciting, and ultimately decided just a few hours into the race, barring any issues. Performance Tech Motorsports earned the win by a commanding 22 laps over Bar1 Motorsports’ two entries and the two entries from Starworks Motorsport, who each had several issues throughout the race. For drivers James French, Patricio O’Ward, Nicholas Boulle and Kyle Masson, it was their first Rolex win for each of them.