Words by Matthew Boyce, cover image by Getty Images
Porsche Penske Motorsport has won the 62nd running of the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona, following a close battle with the Action Express Racing No. 31 Cadillac. Felipe Nasr, following the final round of pit stops, grabbed the lead and held off a charging Tom Blomqvist with under 45 minutes remaining to take the win for Porsche and Penske. Nasr shares the win with Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden. The win marks the first overall Rolex 24 victory for all four drivers.
Porsches win was a long time coming for the German manufacturer, who last took the overall victory in 2003 after the The Racer's Group Porsche 996 GT3-RS took the overall victory. The win is also the 19th overall win for Porsche, which broke the stranglehold for overall victories held by Acura over the past three seasons was snapped. For Penske Racing, their last Rolex 24 overall came all the way back in 1969, when Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons claimed victory in a Lola T70 Mk.3B GT.
For Cadillac, the weekend started out with a bang, as both Cadillac's from Action Express Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing topped not only the practice charts, but the pole as well. However, shortly after 3am, the No. 01 Cadillac slowed to a stop ending their bid for the overall win. That left the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac as the sole Cadillac left, and while they remained up front near the entire race, the Porsche Penske team simply had their number.
Nigel Cook/The Daytona Beach News-Journal via AP
Not all was lost the Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport team, as the No. 40 Acura ARX-06 of Louis Deletraz, Jordan Taylor, Jenson Button and Colton Herta finished third and on the podium after struggling with speed throughout the entire weekend. The podium finish came after a mechanical issue for the No. 40 just before halfway, which put the car behind lap. On the final restart, the No. 40 and No. 6 Penske Porsche made contact in turn one, which pushed the No. 6 wide and gave the No. 40 the podium finish. The No. 6 Porsche, at the hands of Mathieu Jaminet finished fourth overall.
The No. 6 Porsche had dramas of its own throughout the race, including multiple stop-and-hold penalties for not adhering to controlled powertrain parameters during the race. After rallying from those penalties, an off by Kevin Estre with less than four hours to go cost the team around a minute, and eliminating them from overall win contention. Finishing in fifth was the No. 5 Proton Competition Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni while yet another Porsche finished in sixth. The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Porsche finished in sixth while running a relatively uneventful race, while two laps behind the overall winner.
Finishing seventh and eighth were the pair of Team RLL-run BMW M Hybrid V8s with the No. 25 finishing seventh and the No. 24 finishing in eighth. The No. 24, at the hands of Dries Vanthoor at the time, stopped on track near the 14 hour mark due to a mechanical gremlin related to the steering wheel. This issue dropped the No. 24 13 laps behind the leaders. The No. 25 also experienced mechanical woes, as a gearbox issue stopped their race almost an hour after their teammates issue, losing nine laps in the process.
Both the No. 10 Acura and No. 01 Cadillac were retired from the event after both cars experienced mechanical issues.