Ally Cadillac drivers Jimmie Johnson, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller, and Kamui Kobayashi finished second in today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
As is typical at Daytona, the race came down to the final three hours. The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R with Kevin Magnusson, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon, along with the Ally Cadillac drivers, were locked in a three-car battle with the No. 10 Acura as the race wound down. Van der Zande was within a car length as the race went below 10-minutes. The Acura had the speed on the banking and the Cadillac showed its athletic handling in the infield. Two minutes later, van der Zande had to pit with a right rear puncture, the team’s second of the day. The flat tire gave the win to the No. 10 and the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R, with seven-time NASCAR Cup champion and his complement of road racers, finished on the podium in second.
“That was a long race as we all knew it would be,” Johnson said. “Kamui’s commitment at the end to pick up a couple more spots was so impressive. Of course, we always want more. This is my third second-place finish in this race. This is a special one and I’ll keep coming back. It’s just a very special race. I’m very thankful to have the support from Ally, Cadillac, and Action Express Racing to be here.”
Van der Zande was able to rejoin the race and finished fifth for new Cadillac DPi-V.R entrant Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I am super proud of this Chip Ganassi Racing team, what they have done in a month is incredible,” van der Zande said. “They are so professional and great to work with. I feel we didn’t deserve this. We gave it a great try as a first-time team together. We drove from seventh up to the leader and then the flat tire. It didn’t work-out. We will move onto the next one.”
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R was in the hunt for the win up until the early morning when Felipe Nasr reported that the car was stuck in third gear. He brought the red Cadillac to the garage and the Action Express Racing crew made repairs to the gearbox, as well as changing out a header. He returned to the action 20-laps down. NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott took the honors of closing out the race bringing it to the checker sixth in class.
“I think my pace got a little better,” Elliott said of his triple stint this afternoon. “I feel like I was a little more consistent than I was. I feel like I found some of that last [consistency] night when I got in at 3 this morning and I found a little bit more of it this afternoon. I’ve enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll get to come back some time and put what I’ve learned to use again. It’s a great event. Obviously, I’m a competitive person and I want to win. If I have the chance, I’d love to come back.”
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac team of Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval and Sebastien Bourdais were also very competitive throughout the start and into the darkness. Just as the clock clicked past midnight, Vautier was going into Turn 1 when two GT cars tangled and collected him damaging the side of the JDC-Miller Motorsports-prepared Cadillac. The resulting work sent the team down 46 laps to a seventh-place finish.
“We had very solid race with a good Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R,” Bourdais said. “The JDC-Miller Motorsports team did a great job preparing for the event. All three drivers were equally fast. Unfortunately, Tristan got victimized by two GTD cars. One pushed the other into the side of our car. The Porsche is a lot stronger than the prototype and it destroyed our car. It is a shame we had a good opportunity to do something good here. I guess racing happened. It is the second race in a row we have been victimized by a GT car. We gave it our best shot.”
Cadillac Racing Rolex 24 finishing order:
2.No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R, Jimmy Johnson, Simon Pagenaud, Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Rockenfeller
5.No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, Kevin Magnussen, Renger Van Der Zande, Scott Dixon
6.No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway, Chase Elliott
7.No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval, Sebastien Bourdais
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince