The No. 01 Chip Gansssi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya lead the 46th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with only six hours remaining in the 24-hour marathon. Despite the heavy cloud cover, the sun...
The No. 01 Chip Gansssi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya lead the 46th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with only six hours remaining in the 24-hour marathon. Despite the heavy cloud cover, the sun has risen and a great fight has continued to develop in Daytona Prototype and the GT categories.
Hour sixteen began under the safety car, due to the stricken No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley. Two of the four DPs on the lead lap elected to pit. Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley handed over to co-driver Marc Goossens while Jimmie Johnson relinquished the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley to Jon Fogarty.
This gave AJ Allmendinger driving the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley the overall lead, ahead of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Dario Franchitti - both cars electing not to pit. Lap 440 saw the pack take the green, with still a very wet track.
Problems arose for Fogarty as he drove off-course, damaging the front nose of his Pontiac Riley. The defending DP Series champion came into pits for a new nose and rejoined still on the lead lap. However, he quickly went a lap down thanks to a hard-charging Allmendinger.
Franchitti took over the lead on lap 452 when Allmendinger came in for routine service. Meanwhile, the track began to slowly dry as the night turns to day, still under heavy cloud cover. Franchitti then pitted on lap 459, handing over to Scott Pruett. This gave the lead back to Allmendinger. Meanwhile, trouble struck the No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Pontiac Riley, which pitted due to high water temperatures.
The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley stopped on-course, bringing out a full-course caution on lap 468. While under the yellow, Allmendinger and Fogarty elected to pit while Pruett did not. Therefore, the No. 01 took over control of the race. Two more cars went back on the lead lap, thanks to the yellow. The No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Fogarty both got their lap back.
Pruett led the field to the restart on lap 473, pulling out to a five- second lead over Ian James, who was now in the No. 6 MSR entry. Pruett kept his advantage over James with Fogarty in third and Patrick Long running in fourth.
AIM Autosport's day continued to worsen as Andrew Ranger suffered a tire puncture on the high-speed tri-oval portion of the circuit. The No. 61 Ford Riley pulled off track due to extensive damage to the rear and wing. The car was later retired.
Pruett pitted on lap 495, taking on slick tires. It came just a few moments before the yellow waved again. This time it was for the No. 09 Sprit of Daytona Porsche Fabcar, which spun at the Bus Stop Chicane. A number of frontrunners elected to pit, following Pruett's guide he made a few laps earlier.
The restart on lap 502 saw Pruett pull ahead, with Fogarty in second. The No. 99 machine used the advantage of traffic to reel in the leading Lexus Riley. But on lap 516, the yellow comes out again - this time for Pruett's teammate, Salvador Duran, who has spun and come to rest in turn 5. During the yellow, more teams pit and five DPs remained on the lead lap as the field went back to green at the end of hour 18.
In GT, it's continued to be a three-horse race, with the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Raphael Matos leading the way. He holds a one lap edge over the No. 67 TRG Porsche of Romain Dumas and Andy Lally, now in the No. 66 sister car - that is trying to limp home with overheating issues.