Whelen Engineering drivers Felipe Nasr (Brazil), Pipo Derani (Brazil), Chase Elliott (Dawsonville, Ga.), and Mike Conway (United Kingdom) finished sixth in the 59th IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
With nearly five and a half hours remaining in the race, Nasr had the controls of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R when mechanical issues struck. Nasr immediately brought the No. 31 Cadillac to the garage for necessary repairs. The Action Express crew fixed the issue and sent Nasr back on track. Unfortunately, the repairs put the team 21 laps behind the DPi race leader.
“The car had pretty good pace,” Nasr said. “But coming out of Turn Six, we had a gearbox issue. I could hear a loud bang. I just lost drive from fourth gear. The car wouldn’t drive anymore. The team did everything they could to put us back out on track. I don’t know what to say, I feel bad for everyone. We started on the pole and had a good car.”
Nasr handed the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac over to his teammate NASCAR Cup champion Elliott, who was competing in his first-ever Rolex 24. Elliott then proceeded to put in a triple stint keeping pace with the DPi leaders.
“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.”
Late in the race, Conway took the reins of the No. 31 for a double stint and then handed it back over to Elliott to finish the race. The team finished sixth after starting from the pole position.
“I think we had a great run,” Derani said. “Unfortunately, we ended up finishing with a gearbox problem for the second year in a row, which is a shame because I think up until then the team was doing a fantastic job. We were always up there with the leaders fighting. At least we finished and took some points for the Championship. The 48 car got a podium so it was a good day for the team. It’s just unfortunate for the Whelen Engineering Cadillac and Action Express Racing because they gave everything they had. But, it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll come back strong. We’ll give it a go at Sebring.”
“We tried as hard as we could,” Conway said. “It just didn’t go our way unfortunately. These races are always so hard just to get to the end. We were a bit unlucky. Congrats to the 48 car. They did a solid job all day and deserve that result [second place]. What can we do? We need to keep coming back and keep trying. Thank you to the team for all of their hard work. We always appreciate it. I want to thank Whelen and Cadillac for all of the good things they bring us.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Brian Cleary