Nasr claims podium spot in Rolex 24

DP podium: third place Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Felipe Nasr, Gustavo Yacaman
DP podium: third place Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Felipe Nasr, Gustavo Yacaman

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Felipe Nasr drives the No.6 Michael Shank Racing DP home and claims podium position in Rolex 24 At Daytona. The young team of Nasr, Michael McDowell, Jorge Goncalvez and Gustavo Yacaman drove a fantastic race with Felipe Nasr taking the wheel for the final hours and bringing the car home in third.

This was Nasr’s first time not only in an endurance race but also in sports car racing:

“It’s been great. I’m so happy to be here with these guys, I think we all did a great job. For my first ever time doing a 24, I’m very surprised at the result. It was an unbelievable experience for me and I just can’t wait to hopefully come back here next year.” Felipe Nasr

From the very start of the 24 hours the young team worked well together and maintained their pace and speed keeping them well inside the top 10 throughout. The final hours saw the No.6 remain near the top of the leader board and in 4th place. With each driver taking their last stint of the race, Jorge Goncalvez put in a great final performance before then handing over to Gustavo Yacaman.

With 3 hours of the race left, Gustavo was coming to the end of his final stint when he got a flat rear left tyre and had to pit, giving the opportunity for NASCAR regular Michael McDowell to take his final stint of the race. McDowell, the oldest member of the team despite being only 27, is a regular to Rolex but didn’t find a problem being with 3 Daytona Rookies:

“I felt like the old man of the group but it was great. These guys not having a lot of experience in endurance cars doesn’t make them any less capable of running well and having patience and doing the things that we did in this race.”

“I have crashed a lot of these Rolex cars. So I could tell them exactly what not to do and who not to do it to. My first couple of years racing this series when I was 19, 20 years old, I tore up a lot of stuff so I definitely have a good feel for what not to do.” Michael McDowell

McDowell brought the team back into the lead lap in the final 3 hours and with the final hour and a half approaching he pitted to hand the wheel over to Nasr.

There were 3 cars on the lead lap at the end of hour 22 that were all battling for first place including the No.1 Chip Ganassi BMW Riley DP of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand which at that stage were in 2nd in front of the No.8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley whilst the other No.60 Michael Shank DP driven of AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson and John Pew remained at the head of the field.

Drama was to strike Pruett at his next pit stop when the No.1 car had to be pushed from the pits suddenly after problems with the gearbox, he was then penalised with a drive through penalty for speeding through the pit-lane which saw them slip further down the order. This left the No.60 out in the lead followed by the No.8 Starworks whilst Felipe Nasr chased on from behind.

A pit stop for the No.8 Starworks car dropped the team down to third briefly, meaning Nasr slotted into second behind the sister Michael Shank car. Nasr then lead the race whilst the No.60 pitted for the last time – an amazing feat for the rookie Daytona driver.

A lap later Nasr came in for his last stop and with the final 30 minutes approaching Dalziel in the No.8 was pushing hard and trading times with Allmendinger up front. Despite the older machinery and being 40 seconds off the lead Nasr continued to match the lap times of the two lead cars.

As the 24 hours neared their final minutes, Dalziel couldn’t quite catch the number 60 and Allmendinger took the checkered flag for the Michael Shank team – 5.198 seconds in front of the No 8 Starworks car.

Then Sunoco Daytona Challenge winner Felipe Nasr underlined his talent again taking the checkered flag in third on the same lap as the teams sister car.

"The Sunoco Daytona Challenge is a great opportunity, everyone should enter and I only wish I could this year! Daytona is up there as one of the best experiences of my life so far." Felipe Nasr

The Challenge continues this year with the opportunity to win a seat in the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Details will be released shortly.