DAYTONA BEACH – Napleton Racing and driver Shane Lewis scored the inaugural GX class pole in the team’s new No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman S in qualifying Thursday for this year’s running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Lewis and co-drivers David Donohue, Dr. Jim Norman and Nelson Canache will drive the Cayman in the Napleton team’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series debut.
Lewis lapped the Daytona International Speedway road course at 1:54.606 (111.827 mph) to take the top qualifying spot. Lewis and Donohue led Thursday’s first two practice sessions with lap times of 1:54.310 in the first and 1:54.162 in the second session. Napleton was also fastest in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test earlier this month.
Given the collective efforts of the Napleton team since first taking delivery of the Cayman S, Lewis said scoring pole was the only option.
“I had to do the pole, not for me, but just for the crew,” Lewis said. “They have put in so much hard work and effort on everything since November. It’s been tireless day in and day out. When they gave me the ‘knuckle bump’ before qualifying, they were so excited! You could tell they really, really wanted it, and it makes you dig deeper for those guys. But in the same time, you don’t take risks. It was a clean lap, no risks involved, but it was fast just for them.”
Napleton Porsche of Westmont General Manager Ron Barnaba reflected on the team’s accomplishment, noting it was only the first he and the No. 16 team seek to achieve this weekend in Daytona.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is the most gratifying result I have ever had here at Daytona,” Barnaba said. “It’s just been a fabulous journey. The team, drivers, and everyone pulled together. That was our goal and we have one more to go.”
Lewis explained that a lack of a suitable draft cost him some time for a potentially faster qualifying lap, but he didn’t need to press with a sizeable gap of more than 3.5 seconds clear of the second-placed car on the grid.
“As the Daytona Prototypes passed you in practice, if you tucked in behind them, you could gain some time,” Lewis said. “It could have been a couple tenths faster if I had had a drafting partner. My next best lap was a better predicted time, before a GT car got in the middle. We were fast enough and I decided to put it away.”
Donohue, who ran the fastest lap in Thursday morning’s first practice, noted the effort assembled by the Napleton Racing crew which has made the Cayman S an enjoyable car to drive.
“It’s quick and easy, and a friendly car to drive,” Donohue said. “It’s a very nice road car and translates well to the track.”
Lewis has a chance to extend his streak of winning races he has competed in to four, after prior recent wins at Daytona, Miami and most recently two weeks ago in a Cor Euser Racing Lotus Evora at the 24 Hours of Dubai.
The No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman S concludes the day with Thursday night practice that is scheduled to end at 8:00 p.m. EST. Final practice is Friday with this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. EST local time this Saturday.