***With his second Rolex 24 victory, Max Angelelli ended his driving career on top. Ricky Taylor said he put one of his lessons learned from the veteran Italian driver to use, in what ended up being the race-winning move. “Today was a good example of one of the lessons, I think. That was an ‘Axe Move!” Ricky said. “It was an emotional day, regardless if we won the race, to have our last race with Max. To win was really cool.”
***Jeff Gordon becomes the fourth different driver to claim overall victories in both the Rolex 24 and Daytona 500. The four-time NASCAR Premier Series champion joins A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Jamie McMurray in achieving the feat. “It was the thrill of a lifetime and I’m just so honored to be part of this experience,” Gordon said.
***Gordon praised Jordan Taylor’s ability to describe track conditions, in real time, prior to the NASCAR legend jumping into the car while in the wet. “He pushed the talk button the entire lap and walked me through every braking zone, every turn, the acceleration… It was unbelievable,” Gordon said. “I don’t think I heard a single thing because I was so amazed that he was doing this in these kind of conditions.”
***Wayne Taylor revealed that Gordon raced with the team for free, in a handshake deal dating back to 2007, following his one-and-only previous sports car race, also with WTR. While the team has yet to confirm its third driver for Sebring, Gordon ruled out taking part in the 12-hour endurance classic and said he currently has no other plans to get back behind the wheel.
***The Wayne Taylor Racing team was without longtime engineer Adam Banet, who left Thursday morning for the birth of his son. Banet designed the entire wiring loom for the Cadillac DPi-V.R, which was making its competition debut. “It was kind of scary for all of us because he’s the guy who wired the entire car. Any little glitch, he was our guy!,” Jordan Taylor said.
***The Taylor brothers and Jeff Gordon each got temporary tattoos of watches on their wrists prior to the race, as a good luck charm, that ultimately saw the trio, along with Angelelli, walk away with actual Rolex Chronographs following their overall triumph.
***Porsche Motorsport GT boss Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser said he was not upset at missing out on the GT Le Mans class victory to the No. 66 Ford GT, as the marque’s main goal was to bring the new 911 RSR to the finish. “It was very close, but while the target was for the car to make it to the end of the race, for both cars to make it to the end of the race [was] everything [we] wanted,” he told Sportscar365.
***While Pilet was 2.9 seconds short of GTLM victory, the No. 29 Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS was just 0.29 seconds behind the GTD-winning Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R courtesy of a longer final stop which dropped them from the lead to fourth. “The problem is not the boys, they did an amazing pitstop. IMSA put a very small fuel restrictor on our car,” Jules Gounon told Sportscar365. “We took longer to put fuel in, so it’s just like this.”
***The final caution period, which allowed Ricky Taylor to catch Filipe Albuquerque, was caused by Andy Lally’s wounded No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, which had already lost it’s hood on the front stretch. “It cut out, he had no drive anymore and they were telling him to recycle the ECU, but the gearbox temperature was going up, so he just pulled off,” co-driver Katherine Legge explained.
***Despite the retirement for the No. 93 Acura, the sister No. 86 entry finished fifth in class, on the lead lap, following a strong run, particularly in the wet, for the mid-engined cars, in their competition debuts.
***In fact, Acura, Lexus and Mercedes-AMG all led race laps in each of its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition debuts. Only two of the nine GT Daytona class manufacturers (Lamborghini, Aston Martin) didn’t lead laps.
***Ford claimed its 19th Rolex 24 class victory and first with its Le Mans-winning trio of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais in the WeatherTech Championship. It also marked Chip Ganassi Racing’s seventh win in the race, following its most recent triumph in 2015, in a Ford EcoBoost-powered Riley DP.
***Corvette Racing, however, proved again to be the quickest GTLM team in the pit lane, with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R gaining nine spots in the pits in the last the stops, including Antonio Garcia leapfrogging from fourth to first on the final stop. The Spaniard, however, faded to fourth in class at the checkered flag, in the ultra-competitive battle.
***One of the potential secrets to the team’s success in pit lane could be traced back to a recent fitness regime, which has seen the majority of the over-the-wall-crew take part in CrossFit classes, which according to crew chief Dan Binks, has shaved of nearly one-second in pit stop times.
***Action Express Racing’s pit box selection, located at pit-in, played to its benefit when the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R sustained starter motor issues early and resulted in the team pushing the car directly behind the wall to push start on multiple occasions. “I said a goal back in 2007 and said we want this pit. For the last three years, we’ve been able to have this pit. I’ve been on the other end of the pit lane where you have a three-quarter of a mile run to get to your garage,” team manager Gary Nelson told FOX Sports.
***In a ironic twist, 2016 Prototype Challenge race winner Kenton Koch helped guide Performance Tech Motorsports to a dominant class victory. Koch served as the team’s spotter in the race, which saw the Brent O’Neill-led team be the only PC team to have an incident-free race for the driving quartet of James French, Pato O’Ward, Kyle Masson and Nick Boulle, who have a average age of 22.
***Spencer Pumpelly, another driver without a ride in the race, gave a helping hand to the GT Daytona class-winning Alegra Motorsports team, working alongside crew member Larry Hahn on race strategy. “It was great because between Larry and Spencer, they were sitting there trading back and forth thoughts and working together on strategy, and it was just amazing to watch those two guys work together like they did,” team owner/driver Carlos de Quesada said.
***George Breuer, Porsche’s Motorsports Manager for GT race engines, celebrated class victory in his final race event. Breuer was responsible for every Porsche GT race engine since 1986, including the 4.0-liter direct injection 911 RSR engine, which made its competition debut in the GTLM class last weekend. A special decal was carried on all Porsches in the race.
***After a mad thrash Friday night and Saturday morning just to make the grid, the DAC Lamborghini squad did more than accomplish its goal of merely finishing the race. Brandon Gdovic, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Emanuel Anassis, and team owner/driver Anthony Massari finished as the third-highest placed Lamborghini in the field of eight Huracan GT3 machines and secured a 13th place finish in class.
***GTD pre-race favorites Ferrari, which swept the front row in qualifying, ended with a double retirement, following late-race engine failure for the then-leading No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, and a sensor-related engine issue that ultimately parked the class pole-sitting No. 51 Spirit of Race entry early on.
James Newbold and Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report