After three hours, Chip Ganassi Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya, driving a Lexus Riley, held a 17.508 second lead over Jimmy Johnson's Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley in the 45th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the 14-race Rolex Sports Car Series. Brumos Racing's Darren Law lay third in the No. 58 Porsche Riley, followed by Darren Manning in the second Ganassi Racing entry and Matthew Alhadeff in the Sigal Sport BMW Riley.
While the top-five entries ran trouble-free, the same could not be said for several other top teams, including the pole sitting No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, and the No. 20 Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford. Alex Gurney led the 70-car field to the green flag in the No 99 car, but contact with a GT class Porsche in the opening laps sent him to the pits with a flat right front tire and shredded front bodywork. Gurney returned to the race, but was back in the pits several laps later with a slipping clutch and no top gear. As a result, the No. 99 car was 29 laps down at the three-hour mark.
Gurney's woes handed the lead to Max Angelelli in the SunTrust entry, but his Pontiac Riley experienced engine problems in the second hour and spent several laps in the garage. The team was four laps down after three hours. The No. 20 Howard Motorsports car of Butch Leitzinger car was 17 laps down after it, too, experienced engine problems and spent a number of laps in the garage.
Despite the large number of cars in the race, the first three hours were run caution-free.
In the GT class, the Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Pierre Ehret led the No. 74 Tafel Racing Porsche of Dominik Farnbacher and the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche of Richard Westbrook.