Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from IMSA’s successful return to racing at Daytona…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***While finishing second in Saturday’s WeatherTech 240 at Daytona, Mazda’s Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez have moved into the DPi championship lead, four points ahead of a three-way tie between teammates Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe and the Mustang Sampling/JDC duo of Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

***Calls for both the No. 31 Action Express Racing and No. 10 WTR Cadillac DPi-V.Rs to start the race on Michelin slick tires ultimately didn’t pay off, with the track drying quicker than expected according to team owner Wayne Taylor, whose Rolex 24-winning car finished sixth.

“We knew we didn’t have the speed, so we took a gamble starting off the race with slick tires,” Taylor explained. “We thought we could make it up with fuel consumption and end up on podium. The track was wetter than anticipated and we unfortunately lost too much time. With no cautions, we were unable to lean on strategy.”

***Gabby Chaves, in the Whelen-sponsored Cadillac DPi, impressed in both the wet and dry conditions, having handed over the car in the lead to Pipo Derani on Lap 22. It came after the Indianapolis-based Colombian completed his first laps in a prototype in two years, having receiving a late call-up to replace Felipe Nasr, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

***A gamble to start on rain tires was taken for the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Nick Tandy, which according to Porsche’s head of IMSA operations Steffen Hollwarth, was made because of their pace deficit to Corvette in qualifying. Tandy managed to jump into an early lead but was forced to pit on Lap 5 for slicks.

***Roughly one-third of the 26-car field started on Michelin Pilot Sport GT Rain tires, before those cars switched to dry weather Michelin Pilot Sport slick tires within the opening 20 minutes.

***A mechanical issue for the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor and pole-sitter Helio Castroneves resulted in the race’s only retirement.  “The vibration started during my stint but it never really got worse,” Castroneves explained. “Unfortunately, when Ricky got in the car it was clear that it was pretty significant.”

***Crew members, IMSA officials and other personnel performed a ‘salute’ of going back racing during the pace lap (pictured above), which saw staff line up, socially distanced, on pit road as the cars passed through the tri-oval behind the Lexus LC 500 pace car.

***While no official figures were published, up to 5,000 spectators witnessed IMSA’s highly anticipated restart, which was delayed by 45 minutes due to lightning strikes in the area. It resulted in the race finishing in full darkness, which a number of drivers did not initially expect.

***The race was the 12th caution-free contest since the formation of the WeatherTech Championship in 2014 and fourth in the last seven races overall to run without a safety car intervention.

***Michelin’s global return to motorsports went without a hitch, despite having significantly reduced staff on-site due to IMSA’s restrictions on essential personnel this weekend.

***Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America said: “Establishing and following all of the necessary protocols, providing the correct tires, logistical planning and support for the teams was a big challenge in the current environment and we are very pleased that the teams were able to race so hard and so well in very changing conditions.”

***Corvette Racing’s 100th victory in IMSA competition came with a reshuffled crew, most notably with the absence of longtime No. 3 crew chief Dan Binks, who has been replaced by ex-Ganassi man Grant Weaver. Weaver is also now the team’s head of operations.

***Kyle Millay, who previously served as the the race engineer on the No. 3 car, has been promoted to the team’s chief engineer, with John Lankes taking over his specific role in the Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor-driven entry, which broke the Corvette Racing’s two-plus year winless streak.

***It marked Garcia’s first win since Virginia International Raceway in 2017, despite he and longtime Corvette driver Jan Magnussen having won the GT Le Mans class drivers’ titles in 2017 and 2018.

***With their runner-up finish, Porsche’s Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor have moved into the GTLM championship lead but only one point ahead of Garcia and Taylor heading into next weekend’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring.

***AIM Vasser Sullivan celebrated its first-ever 1-2 finish, with GT Daytona class winners Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth having combined to lead all but six laps in the race, in one of the most dominant runs in recent GT Daytona class history.

***Lexus’ previous best finish came in Detroit last year, when the No. 14 car won the race and Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo finished third in the No. 12 Lexus.

***Saturday’s sweep came after pre-race travel drama for Bell, along with team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James ‘Sulli’ Sullivan, whose plane lost cabin pressure on the way from Indianapolis and was forced to divert to Jacksonville, Fla. due to weather in the Daytona Beach area at the time. 

***Bell, who was part of NBC Sports’ broadcast team for the NTT IndyCar Series race earlier in the day at IMS, said it “really hit home” seeing the lack of fans at both iconic venues on the same day. The IndyCar/NASCAR double-header in Indianapolis prohibited fans altogether.

“When you show up at those two facilities in the same day it really hammers home what a unique time it is for all of us,” he said. “You miss that energy. It’s kind of bizarre just doing the podium like we just did. The fans are what make this sport wherever you are and so we miss them tremendously.”

***Hawksworth is now the GTD points leader on 57 points, with Telitz, who took part in the Rolex 24 in the team’s sister No. 12 Lexus, three points behind in second. 

***The AVS duo, however, are in the joint points lead in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup, which kicked off with its opening round of the season on Saturday.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

Click to comment

More in WeatherTech Championship