Brumos Racing has been the team to beat thus far at Daytona International Speedway and heads into Saturday's Rolex 24 as the favorites in the twice-around-the-clock enduro. After claiming the pole position on Thursday, the No. 58 Porsche-powered Riley Daytona Prototype of David Donohue, Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia topped the time charts in Friday's final practice session.
However, it's the sister No. 59 machine of JC France, Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and Hurley Haywood that's been the quickest of the two Brumos entries in practice, setting a 1:40.961 lap time during Friday morning's session. It's stood as the fastest practice lap of the weekend.
Another contender that's been near the top of the time sheets has been the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of Michael Valiante, John Pew, Ian James and AJ Allmendinger, which was third quickest in the combined practice results. Valiante had qualified third on Thursday but was forced to re-qualify during Friday's second session because of a car width infraction. It will now lineup 17th on the grid.
Penske Racing's No. 16 Porsche Riley of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Ryan Briscoe will start on the front row following Bernhard's scorching lap time set in qualifying. In fact, the German missed the pole by a mere 0.001 seconds. Team owner Roger Penske is in search of his second Rolex 24 win, and if his driving trio can get it done, it will come on the 40th anniversary of the Captain's first, back in 1969.
It's not just Porsche power that's shined on the high banks, but also from a fellow German rival. Steve Dinan-tuned BMW-powered entries were fifth and seventh on the combined practice time sheets and could throw up some surprises tomorrow.
The Alegra Motorsports Riley in the hands of Carlos de Quesada, Ryan Dalziel, Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Tomas Enge and Chapman Ducote was the quickest of the BMW-powered entries. Dalziel posted the fifth quickest in qualifying but its time was disallowed because of a ride height infringement due to a damaged front splitter. Dalziel and company will start 19th on Saturday.
Other contenders to not count out include the two Lexus Rileys from Chip Ganassi Racing, which hope to deliver the team's fourth consecutive Rolex 24 win, as well as the Ford Riley of SunTrust Racing and GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing's Pontiac Riley, which has three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson as part of its driver line-up.
One team that will be burning the midnight oil is the No. 45 Victory Junction - Orbit Racing BMW Riley, which suffered a crash in the morning practice. Bill Lester apparently spun at the Bus Stop Chicane on his cool down lap, severely damaging the left and rear end of the car. The Peter Baron-led team has asked for special dispensation to work through the night to repair the car in time for tomorrow's start.
In the GT ranks, the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 has continued to set its mark, winning the pole and clocking the fastest lap in practice, a 1:49.841. It's been a very emotional weekend for team owner/driver Sylvain Tremblay, who is racing for the first time since the tragic passing of his wife, Carol, in November. Tremblay and co-drivers Nick Ham, David Haskell and Jonathan Bomarito will be gunning for the class win, in Carol's memory.
Porsche powerhouse teams Farnbacher Loles and TRG account for 11 of the 911 GT3 Cup cars entered, and both squads are well prepped for the 24-hour marathon. The No. 87 Farnbacher Loles entry of Leh Keen, Dirk Werner, Wolf Henzler, Richard Westbrook and Dominik Farnbacher has been the quickest in combined practice, but it will be the No. 67 TRG Porsche of Andy Lally, Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long that will line-up second on the grid, alongside the pole-sitting Mazda.
Forty-nine cars are expected to take the start Saturday at 3:30 p.m., as the No. 43 Team Sahlen Corvette and No. 34 Orbit Racing Porsche have both been withdrawn. Both teams will instead focus on its lead car in the race.
Stay tuned to Motorsport.com for extensive race coverage throughout the Rolex 24 at Daytona.