The 16th caution slowed the field prior to the end of 15 hours of the Rolex 24 at Daytona battle due to an accident when the No. 81 Ferrari 430 Challenge ended up in the tire barrier at turn 1. However the sunrise should have been on the horizon...
The 16th caution slowed the field prior to the end of 15 hours of the Rolex 24 at Daytona battle due to an accident when the No. 81 Ferrari 430 Challenge ended up in the tire barrier at turn 1. However the sunrise should have been on the horizon but instead the fog rolled in around 6:18am while photographers scrambled out to get the perfect image of the sunrise over the Daytona International Speedway but instead they have a lot of fog with the lights still on at the track.
For many of the teams, the caution also allowed them to dive into the pits without the usual pressure that comes during green flag racing. Such was the case for the Daytona Prototype leaders.
Joey Hand was leading with a slight gap over Jamie McMurray but then Hand pitted, handing the lead over to McMurray who did not hold it for long when he too came onto pit lane. Both drivers race for Chip Ganassi. Hand, who was added to the No. 01 championship team from last year, has been with BMW for many years as a driver and an instructor. With last year's change to a BMW powerplant fitted into the Riley chassis, Ganassi's full-season drivers, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, nearly dominated the 2010 season. What the team wants this weekend is to win the Grand-Am Rolex Series season opener so they, again, entered two cars.
Before the caution on the 3.56-mile circuit, Hand in the No. 01 car was just in front of teammate McMurray in the No. 02 BMW Riley. But when the clock started hour 16, the two were 4th and 5th, respectively while their competitors remained on track. Buddy Rice held the lead at the end of 15 hours for the No. 5 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley. The 2010 Rolex 24 winning continue to hope for a repeat to victory circuit at the famous speedway.
Second went to Michael Shank Racing's No. 6 entry with Justin Wilson in the cockpit of the Ford Dallara. Nicholas Minassian third was for the Krohn Racing Ford Lola team but the hour standings could shuffle again before the green flag waves again. The top five are the same top teams that have seen their share of hiccups which occur in any endurance race but all five remain on the lead lap and have have a shot at taken the victory.
In the GT class, the top three before the hour ended were still the top of the class during what could be the longest caution period of the race thus far.
Charles Espenlaub had the lead for Dempsey Racing and unless he dives into the pits, he should keep the No. 40 Mazda RX-8 out in front to hopefully remain the GT leader. Paul Miller Racing has been one of the front runners and sits second with Bryce Miller at the wheel of the Porsche GT3 Cup. The No. 67 TRG Porsche was third as the hour ended with team driver Spencer Pumpelly.
When the fog clears enough, the green flag will wave and the drivers, who now are in the cars as some of the teams made driver changes were during the long full course caution, will return to faster speeds and the true racing action as they right for position. The morning hours could yet see more attrition which could change the standings as the clock keeps ticking off the minutes until the checkered flag.