Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian bounced back from an early setback without missing a beat, running in the lead for 42 laps in the 60th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Moments after Helio Castroneves captured the overall lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opener three-and-a-half hours into the event, a cut left-rear tire sent the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner limping to the pits with smoke billowing from the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Acura ARX-05.
“We went from an extreme high (when Castroneves took the lead) to a low,” Shank said. “At least the car was intact – no damage to the left-rear bodywork – and we were ready to go racing again.”
Fortunately, the team only sustained minimal bodywork damage and lost only one lap in the incident. Since then, the team of Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist battled back to the lead lap, with Blomqvist regaining the lead and pacing the field for 19 laps prior to pitting at midnight.
Taking the controls on a lap 137 pit stop, Jarvis returned to the fray and brought the No. 60 MSR Acura to second before turning the wheel over to the 2019 Indianapolis 500 champion Pagenaud. The Frenchman drove the first full-night stint and through two caution periods, keeping the Acura in contention.
Castroneves took over for Blomqvist on the midnight stop. After making several challenges, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner regained the lead shortly after the 11-hour mark, and held it throughout the 12th hour.
Blomqvist started the race on the second row after qualifying fourth, and led two laps during a double stint.
“After the yellow in the middle of my first stint it felt like we came up on the whole GT field and it got pretty crazy,” Blomqvist said. “We’re all racing and you just have to dodge everything and be super alert. You can’t really relax at all, you feel like you’re completely on edge the whole time you’re in the car. It’s just a long race, you just have to be smart about it. We’re all quite experienced drivers and it’s a 24-hour race, so it’s all about risk management, getting the most out of the car at all times.”
The MSR team scored its first major triumph in the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ten years later, the team is looking to bookend that victory in the 60th running of the event.
The race is scheduled to take the checkered flag at 1:40pm ET.
Source. Sunday Group
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