Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Pre-Race Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s pre-race notebook from the Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***During Saturday morning’s all-driver meeting, IMSA Race Director Beaux Barfield confirmed the two yellow flag procedures to be used – Standard and Short. Standard full-course cautions will be used in nearly all instances, except the first 15 minutes after the race start and the final 30 minutes, where Short yellows will be used. If situations should occur where multiple cautions occur in immediate succession, the cautions will alternate between Standard and Short – i.e. if a second yellow followed immediately after the first, the second yellow would be Short.

***Two cars have been moved to the rear of their respective fields on the official grid. The No. 90 Racing Corvette DP has been moved to the back of the Prototype/Prototype Challenge grid per Article 30.4.1 of the IMSA Regulations. That rule indicates at least one driver did not take part in an Official Session; and in this case that driver is Guy Cosmo, who will be the fourth driver alongside Michael Valiante, Richard Westbrook and Mike Rockenfeller.

***The No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R has also been moved to the rear of the overall field per Article 40.2.1 for causing a red flag, when Kuno Wittmer’s right rear tire left the car in qualifying. Both he and the car were OK.

***After failing to set a qualifying time, the No. 1 Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04b will start from the rear of P/PC field and not from the rear of the full field. Today’s race marks the first time for the TUDOR Championship to implement split starts between the Prototype and GT categories.

***Per multiple reports, Patrick Dempsey’s wife Jillian Fink has filed for divorce from the driver. Dempsey co-drives the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America with Jan Heylen, Madison Snow and Phillip Eng for today’s race.

***The DeltaWing will start from fifth place for today’s race, but it has been struggling for track time since Andy Meyrick’s qualifying effort on Thursday. Persistent gearbox issues have limited the DWC13 coupe to single-digit laps in the last two practice sessions, as the team sorts out the new rear end of the car for this race.

***Veteran strategist Mike Johnson is a notable absence from any pit box for this year’s Rolex 24. This year marks his first time not working the race since 2000; Johnson, long regarded as one of sports car racing’s top strategists, has multiple Rolex 24 class wins under his belt.

***SpeedSource Mazda will have spotters Tim Fedewa and Tyler Green, who were two of the four spotters with Level 5 Motorsports last year.

***Scuderia Corsa will have Jeff Gordon’s and Kevin Harvick’s spotters atop the box for them this week. Additionally, the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 has the Bosch collision avoidance system – a radar-based, rear view monitor. This technology was pioneered by Corvette Racing several years ago.

***Past Rolex 24 overall winners in the field include these 21 drivers: Memo Rojas, Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais, Max Angelelli, Max Papis, Jim Pace, John Pew, Ozz Negri, AJ Allmendinger, Mike Rockenfeller, Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, Antonio Garcia, Graham Rahal and Jorg Bergmeister. There are multiple other prior class winners in the field.

***There are 36 rookies making their first Rolex 24 start, with the highest number coming in Prototype Challenge. There are 14 rookies in PC, including Brian Alder, Martin Plowman, Marc Drumwright, Shelby Blackstock, Remo Ruscitti, James French, James Vance, Jerome Mee, Sean Johnston, Andrew Novich, Andrew Palmer, Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson and Mikhail Goikhberg.

***Performance Tech Motorsports’ lineup of French, Vance, Mee and Johnston features an all-rookie lineup, while all other PC cars except those from CORE autosport, Starworks Motorsport and RSR Racing feature at least two rookies per car.

***GT Daytona also features a high volume of rookies with 13 drivers making their first Rolex 24 start. Those include Matteo Beretta, Michael Lira, Niki Mayr-Melnhof, Ricardo Flores, Christopher Zoechling, Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii, Pasin Lathouras, Phillip Eng, Rory Butcher, Cameron Lawrence, Christoffer Nygaard and Derek DeBoer.

***The leftover nine Rolex 24 rookies beyond PC’s 14 and GTD’s 13 include Tor Graves, Phil Keen, Matt McMurry and Ben Devlin in Prototype and Jens Klingmann, Bruno Spengler, Francois Perrodo, Mathias Lauda and Fred Makowiecki in GT Le Mans.

***Those drivers racing today in the Rolex 24 after being in yesterday’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge BMW Performance 200 include Andrew Davis, Mark Wilkins, Andy Lally, Cameron Lawrence, Spencer Pumpelly, Jeff Segal, Michael Lira, and Ricardo Flores.

***Travis Braun, brother of CORE autosport driver Colin and son of SpeedSource competition director Jeff, has a shot to win $1 million if his Super Bowl ad created for the event gets the most votes; he’d also get a feature-writing opportunity with Paramount Pictures. Travis’ ad made it to the top 10 from more than 5,000 entries; here’s the link to watch and vote.

***Watch the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona on the FOX family of networks, including the first two hours on the FOX network, beginning at 2 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio, meanwhile, will provide flag-to-flag coverage of the race. Click here for full details in Continental Tire’s Keys to the Race.

***Mazda will stream the race as well for all 24 hours. In-car cameras and IMSA Radio will be going all race at, beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

***Continental Tire has 85 people at the Rolex 24 this week to process tires; this is roughly four times more than an average race weekend, where the staff is approximately 20-25.

***The roughly 10,000 Continental Tires on hand takes 17 trailers. That number of tires covers both Continental’s dry (Gold for all cars except the DeltaWing, which is Black) and wet weather compounds.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


More in WeatherTech Championship