Felipe Nasr and Porsche clinched the GTP win at the IMSA 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. America's famed endurance race did not disappoint, offering up loads of drama, excitement, and record-breaking crowds from the moment the green flag dropped until the checkered flag was waved.
Forecasted rain was expected to shake things up overnight as well as Sunday morning, though that thread never materialized. Instead, a drastic drop in ambient and track temperatures threw a lifeline to some, most specifically the Penske Porsche GTP cars. The red-and-white prototypes gained an edge over the leading Cadillacs overnight, who didn't seem to get as much heat into the tires as the Germans.
While the Porsches mounted a charge, the yellow No.1 Cadillac of No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R. Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, and Scott Dixon suffered from a tire puncture but eventually had it call it quits after the car suddenly stopped running. The No. 31 Cadillac kept a healthy pace throughout the night, staying about 3 to 6 seconds off the Porsche of Nasr.
With the sun out and temperatures rapidly increasing, the sole remaining Cadillac came back into contention and passed for the lead with a handful of hours left in the race. After a round of pit stops left the Porsche back up front, Tom Blomqvist pulled off a ballsy pass for the lead going into Turn 1, which led Nasr to lock up the brakes trying to regain position going into Turn 2.
The Acura ARX-06s of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti suffered from some bad luck, too, which forced the No. 10 to retire, rejoin, and ultimately retire once more from the race. Meanwhile, Colton Herta piloted No. 40 to a healthy third place in the early morning hours.
Just as class leaders settled into a pace to wrap up a long day of racing, the No. 12 Lexus RCF GT3 caught on fire while leaving the pits, triggering a full-c`ourse yellow with just 40-ish minutes to go. The eventual restart helped the No. 40 Acura GTP up a spot, though it made light contact with one of the Porsche GTP cars. Both cars remained unscathed.
Racing resumed with just 29 minutes to go and led to a dogfight between Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche and Blomqvist in the No. 31 Cadillac. Despite getting as close as 0.550 seconds from the Porsche, Blomqvist couldn't seal the deal with the time given.
And speaking of timing, there was brief chaos at the Speedway when it was announced that there were two laps left of racing based on the official clock. However, the white flag was waved almost immediately, signaling to teams that the GTP leaders had already commenced the final lap. The discrepancy seems to involve slightly different timing used by race control and track/TV announcers, though frankly, it's still a bit bizarre.
In the end, Porsche won a hard-earned victory, earning Roger Penske its first win at Daytona in 55 years. The No. 31 Cadillac had to settle for second place for the second year in a row, while the remaining No. 40 Acura had to settle for third—admittedly a drastic change of pace from the last three years for the Japanese automaker.
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