No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara Leads Rolex 24 At Daytona at Halfway Point; Pedro Lamy crossed the start/finish line after 12 of the 24 hours at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2009) - Pedro Lamy and the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara led the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the halfway point - the 12-hour mark - at Daytona International Speedway early Sunday morning.
Lamy, in his first-ever Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and Rolex 24, took the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 358. He became the third driver on the team to lead a lap - joining co-drivers Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli - and the 17th overall. It was also the 33rd overall lead change, which is on pace to tie the record-number of lead changes in a Rolex Series race at Daytona, set at 64 last year.
The 107-plus mph pace set by the Daytona Prototypes is also one mile per hour less than the Rolex 24 race record under Grand-Am sanction.
The No. 10 SunTrust Racing team has run in the top five most of the race, despite losing a lap earlier to replace the car's front brake pads. Angelelli regained the lap after running a triple stint and fought mostly with the three-time defending race champions, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Penske Racing and Brumos Racing, for the point.
Ganassi, seeking a fourth consecutive victory in the twice-around-the-clock classic, has had three of its six drivers - former Rolex 24 and Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya, the two-time defending race winner with Scott Pruett - lead. Franchitti led the most laps consecutively, 41, in the early hours Sunday. The No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley was also among cars which lost a lap early in the race's first half, as driver Memo Rojas hit a curb, forcing the team to change the front splitter during the sixth hour.
Also leading was the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, attempting to win for the first time since the 1970s. Antonio Garcia was running second in the eighth hour when the car hit the tire barrier in Turn 3. The team made a quick change to the nose and got the car back out, three laps down. However, the car never dropped out of the top 10. The team's No. 59 Porsche Riley also ran in the top five for much of the race.
Excluding Montoya, the race has not been kind to its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars. Jimmie Johnson and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley pitted twice for gearbox and rear assembly changes, forcing the team to lose 22 laps. AJ Allmendinger was leading when his No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley lost power, and the team retired with a trigger sensor failure after completing 154 laps. Casey Mears, who teamed with IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick, Rob Finlay and three-time race winner Andy Wallace, battled handling and electrical problems from the start of the race; the duo had, however, climbed into the top 20 overall at the midpoint.
In the GT class, the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 of Spencer Pumpelly, Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Richard Lietz and Emmanuel Collard - who helped Angelelli and Wayne Taylor win the 2005 Rolex 24 overall - sat out front for much of the two hours leading to the halfway point, and the team at one point climbed into the top 10 overall. However, it was Kevin Roush and the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 team which had wrested the point away, and Roush ran ninth overall.
Despite attrition coming into play, only five cars had officially retired from the event, and the 12 caution periods had slowed the race to an average speed of 107.736 mph. The race record, under Grand-Am sanction, was 108.826 mph, set in 2006.