Daytona 24: Highcroft drivers race report

Highcroft Racing's Dayton and Knoop See Top-10 Finish in Rolex 24 Disappear With Just Three and a Half Hours to Go DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 29 - After running in seventh or eighth place for 11 hours, the Essex Racing Crawford Ford No. 5 was ...

Highcroft Racing's Dayton and Knoop See Top-10 Finish in Rolex 24 Disappear With Just Three and a Half Hours to Go

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 29 - After running in seventh or eighth place for 11 hours, the Essex Racing Crawford Ford No. 5 was involved in two accidents that cost it a top-10 finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Sunday.

Highcroft Racing's Duncan Dayton of Danbury, Conn. and Rick Knoop of Laguna Beach, Calif. were part of the Essex Racing team for this event. The other drivers were Brian DeVries of Grand Rapids, Mich. and Jim Matthews of Chapel Hill, N.C.

The first accident occurred right after DeVries left the pits shortly after the 17-hour mark of the twice-around-the-clock enduro. The car was brought back to the garage for repairs and returned to the fray, dropping to 12th place from seventh.

The team was in 11th place with its sights firmly set on getting back to eighth or at least back into the top 10 when Knoop was squeezed by another competitor in the first turn in the infield section of the track at 8:29 a.m. He hit an inside wall hard and got airborne, but he didn't flip and luckily he escaped serious injury. The car wasn't as lucky, and was done for the day.

"I got pinched big-time, and I don't know why," Knoop said afterwards. "I wasn't holding anybody up. I don't know who it was and I don't want to point fingers anyway. I hit the inside wall. I was airborne but I didn't go over. I ended up in the grass in turn one."

As usual, Dayton hit the nail on the head. "We want to congratulate the Essex Racing team for preparing a car that was running like a freight train," he said. "It's a shame that we didn't go to the end through no fault of our own. The only thing that happened to us was that we got hit twice. The team did a great job. Our Ford motor was very strong, as was the gearbox. It's a real shame."

Dayton originally qualified 24th on Thursday but he started 22nd on Saturday at noon after two cars were penalized for missing a deadline with their driver nomination paperwork. The entry steadily marched up the scoreboard, as it was 18th by the end of hour two, 17th by the end of hour three, 15th by the end of hour four, 14th by the end of hour six, and up into eighth by the end of hour seven. It continued to run strong until the trouble struck twice, quite literally.

The team's official order of finish was 34th overall out of 66 entries and 16th in the top class, Daytona Prototypes.

The Highcroft Racing drivers were doing this event on a one-off basis, and plan to concentrate on American Le Mans Series (ALMS) events for the remainder of the year with the Highcroft Racing Lola.

-restart communications-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Brian DeVries , Jim Matthews , Rick Knoop