Caution periods can change the face of the contest and team strategy as the end of the Rolex 24 at Daytona twice-around-the-clock minutes start to close the gap to the checkered flag. The main players are still in the running for the pyramid-style...
Caution periods can change the face of the contest and team strategy as the end of the Rolex 24 at Daytona twice-around-the-clock minutes start to close the gap to the checkered flag. The main players are still in the running for the pyramid-style trophy along with the Rolex watches awarded to the winning drivers.
IndyCar racer Ryan Hunter-Reay was fending off A.J. Allmendinger just prior to the full-course yellow and the 15th hour mark. The No. 91 Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews team chose to bring Hunter-Rhey into the pits for driver change and service, taking away the Daytona Prototype lead.
On the other side of the coin, Michael Shank Racing kept Allmendinger in the No. 6 Ford Riley out on track and inherited the overall lead. Allmendinger took over the driving duties from Burt Frisselle who also held the lead during his time behind the wheel before Hunter-Reay grabbed the spot.
"My dad came on the radio and told me, 'You're the overall leader Burt,' and that's just awesome," smiled Frisselle when he handed the car over to Allmendinger around 3:00am. "Because this is our Super Bowl so to lead some laps is getting to be a part of history but what we really want is at the end so hopefully in 10 hours we'll be talking about our race win."
On the flip-side of the coin, the Michael Shank Racing No. 60 team has not fared as well but they continue to fight their way up the leaderboard. Pole winner Oswaldo Negri Jr. took the wheel over from Champ Car ace Graham Rahal. They sit eighth, four laps adrift of their sister car but in the long endurance races, it is not over until the checkered flag waves.
"Traffic is still a factor, absolutely, but it's definitely stretching out. You're definitely seeing that there are more gaps and less cars," Rahal said. "You're seeing more and more guys having failures and seeing guys peel off. It's a good think if it keeps happening for us, as long as we can stay out there."
Sitting second is the defending champion team with Dario Franchitti in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. Neither Allmendinger or Franchitti went into the pits during the caution. The gap before the green flag was just over six seconds.
Hunter-Reay handed the Pontiac Riley over to Marc Goossens with third overall just in front of the team car belonging to the 2007 champions. NASCAR Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson made his pit stop during the double-yellow handing the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley over to Jon Fogarty, 2007 Rolex Series co-champion who sits in fourth.
One lap down to the leader is the No. 59 Brumos Racing followed by Penske-Taylor Racing's No. 9 and the No. 23 of Alex Job Racing.
In the GT class, a heated battle has continued between two of the seven TRG Porsches and the Mazda of SpeedSource.
Nick Ham in the No. 70 Mazda RX-8 held the edge with 15-hours in the book. Richard Westbrook took over the wheel from then-leader Andy Lally with second in GT while Spencer Pumpelly stayed in the No. 67 in third.
There is still a long way remaining in this year's 24 hour event at Daytona International Speedway and anything can yet change the leaderboard. Several cars who were in the hunt are now trying for a points paying finish, including the No. 10 SunTrust Racing.
Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli were on the winning team in 2005 but this year overheating problems have caused Taylor's team a lot of grief. A radiator blew during the past three hours but they are back out after changing radiators. They sit in 10th in the DP class but 15 laps behind the leader.