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LALLY: Daytona Debrief

Andy Lally files his post-Rolex 24 column for Sportscar365…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

First let me say it’s great to be back with Sportscar365! For those who watched the Magnus Racing webcast, we had both John Dagys and Tony DiZinno on throughout the week, and I repeatedly say how impressed I am with their website.

These guys eat, breathe, and sleep sportscar racing… so much so that we tried repeatedly to find out information about Dagys outside of racing while on the air, and he wouldn’t budge!

By now, I’m pretty sure everyone knows how the weekend ended for us, but the story really starts at the beginning.

We thought we had a good shot this weekend, but to be honest when we lost a gearbox during Friday practice, and with no time to test the rebuilt one before the race, we knew the race might be a struggle.

These guys work really hard, and had a busy off-season ,so we really wanted to show well. To have such an unexpected issue just 24 hours before the biggest race of the year was really tough on everyone. The guys did a great job getting the car ready and rebuilt, but it’s a tough pill to swallow.

We had a ton of support this year from The Children’s Tumor Foundation, and we really wanted to deliver a strong finish for them. On Saturday morning, we had a ton of families and children pay us a visit, and it’s always a humbling experience.

My opening stint was fine, but admittedly I dropped a wheel early on which dinged the splitter a little bit. It didn’t really hurt us all that bad, but it was definitely a message to calm down a bit.

Unfortunately, by time my teammate Martin Ragginger got in the car, our day was already done. In the stint before him, Marco Seefried had commented that the upshifts were starting to get a little rough, and by time Martin got in we lost sixth gear, and eventually the car lost drive.

Once again, our impressive Magnus crew had the car repaired in 45 minutes, but we weren’t going to win. At that point, your attention focuses to just managing the car, ensuring points, and focusing on finishing as cars fall out due to attrition.

I’m pretty sure everyone wants to know about the incident with the opossum. During my 5 a.m. stint, I was in following one of the Vipers in the Turn Three/Turn Four banking when all of sudden I felt a thump on the front nose.

I hadn’t seen any debris on the track, and I didn’t see anything in my mirror, so I assume something must have fallen off the Viper. It was also pitch black so it was tough to see anything.

The car had a pretty good hole in the front nose and dent in the radiator, but it seemed to be running fine and with no crazy issues so we kept going.

It wasn’t until the engine started smoking when Martin was in the car a few hours later that we pulled it in to the garage and really took a look at it.

I don’t think anyone expected to see an opossum in the trunk, poor little guy. Of course I immediately tweeted it out, and I couldn’t believe the response… it’s probably the most re-tweeted thing I’ve ever put out!

The coverage from places like USA Today, CBS, and Jalopnik was incredible, we may have gotten even more recognition than if we’d won!

Obviously I’m vegan, and a huge advocate for ethical animal treatment, so yes this one was tough for me.

However, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to say about it. It’s not like the speedway is out throwing live animals on to the track for fun, this poor guy somehow managed to find his was on to the wrong part of the track, and paid dearly for it. These are big pieces of property, and it happens.

If anything, I can’t believe how much damage he did to the car. He went through the pop rivets, past several welding points, and in to our front trunk. He was also surprisingly, err, in tact. I assume the rear tire of the Viper kicked him through the car, but he help up pretty well. If anything, I never want to mess with an opossum, they’re obviously built tough.

Regardless, I’m glad we finished. Magnus has finished every Rolex 24 they’ve competed in, and this was my 12th straight finish… many of which were on podiums.

I also want to send a special thank you to everyone at Z Clip, who came on at the last minute to support our effort. We enjoyed having them and hopefully they’ll become a big part of our program.

Next up is the 12 Hours of Sebring, and as the defending winners, the pressure is on for us to rebound!

Andy Lally (@AndyLally) is a three-time GRAND-AM champion and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year, currently driving for Magnus Racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

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