DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – For the Action Express bunch, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was all about surviving. That sounds cliché, I know, a race that lasts twice round the clock and attrition is the biggest factor, but when several of the Prototype cars were dropping out or seeing problems, Action Express had to slow down to speed up.
They did just that.
Action Express Racing won their third career Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with not just the Prototype win, but the overall victory on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course too.
Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi powered their No. 5 Cadillac for the easy win. Albuquerque, was behind the wheel when the team crossed the finish line first.
Their 808 laps completed shattered the previous record of 762 laps turned in 1992, as this weekend’s 56th annual classic was a record setting one.
Stuart Middleton brought the No. 31 Cadillac DPI home second, while Colin Braun and the No. 54 ORECA LMP2 was third. They were the only three on the lead lap. Next best was four laps off pace.
Most of the big teams in the class had problems.
Early on, Fernando Alonso’s team, fell three laps down after a tire problem which caused some heavy right rear damage. Phil Hanson was behind the wheel when that happened. They’d have more problems throughout the race, eventually retiring early.
About an hour later, it was more heavy hitters exiting the track.
First, it was defending race winners Wayne Taylor Racing heading to the Daytona garage from damage from a right rear tire blowing on the No. 10 Cadillac. Renger van der Zande was behind the wheel when it happened, the same driver who won the pole on Thursday. That was the second cut tire for the team in the race, this one the most damaging. Joining them in the garage was the No. 90 entry too. Mix that with both Patron cars having problems, and you can see what was starting to happen.
In the middle of the night, Team Penske’s Acuras had 1-2 in the race itself, but both occurred issues themselves.
Helio Castroneves had contact with a lapped car and had to go to the garage. They’d return 22 laps down. Graham Rahal spun while leading then saw his car had to go to the garage not long after as they’d return 24 laps down.
From that point on, it was Action Express on cruise control.
Speaking of cruise control, that’s just what Chip Ganassi Racing was on this weekend. They dominated every session, only to see them go 1-2 in the GTLM class.
Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Richard Westbrook brought the No. 67 Ford GT home first for Ganassi’s ninth Rolex watch and second straight. They No. 67 Ford led just 149 laps in the prestigious race, compared to their team car leading a staggering 625. But, Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais and fell just short as they settled for second.
Overall, the Fords led 774 of the 783 laps and for nearly all 24 hours.