Elton Julian said it’s a “magical time” for his DragonSpeed organization, having claimed three Rolex 24 at Daytona LMP2 class wins in the last four years and each coming with different driving lineups.
The U.S.-flagged team came out on top in Sunday’s 60th running of the Florida endurance classic with its squad of Bronze-rated Eric Lux and NTT IndyCar Series drivers Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta and Devlin DeFrancesco.
It came after DragonSpeed won the LMP2 class in the 2019 and 2020 editions, each time with an Oreca 07 Gibson but with different drivers and crew.
“We’re very proud,” Julian told Sportscar365. “I don’t think it sinks in that you keep coming and keep winning.
“You know it’s never going to last forever, but it’s a bit of a magical time for us with this car, in this class, in this race.
“I’m super proud and super happy, and to deliver for the people who asked us to the job. That’s where the pride comes in.
“This time there was high stakes and high expectations from the group.
“Every now and then you get tasked to do something that’s challenging, and in the end we had to find a way to deliver.
“I think we did a pretty solid job the whole time we’ve been here.”
Julian said the IndyCar stars did a great job in “adapting” to the Oreca and trusting the team’s previous direction in terms of car setup.
“Also I think the fact they knew each other goes along way,” he said.
“They’ve raced each other since they were little kids in karting, so they’ve had an existing rapport. Just the idea of all of them being in a car was a lot of fun.
“I really didn’t know how it was going to go. At first, when I heard I was getting these IndyCar drivers I thought, ‘oh god, no! It’s going to be a headache.’
“Because is the car right and is the support what it’s supposed to be. And we didn’t have an LMP2 pro in the car, especially.
“So we had to take the beginning of the week very easy and give everyone their time, and just present to them options of what we really believe the package is.
“And they had to trust us that that’s what the package was. I think they did a really good job at adapting.”
Julian said it was a challenge for his Barcelona-based squad just to make the event, with multiple issues making it a race against time to be ready and set up for the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
“Between ESTA issues, PCR tests and just changes of plans, shipments that were delayed… it was brutal,” he said.
“We got the car Friday night the weekend before the Roar started. And we got the equipment to run the car here on Thursday morning of the Roar.
“As we unloaded the car, we literally didn’t have any tools. It just had a wrap on it. So it was a really long story to how we got here, which makes it sweeter.”
In addition to having different lineups for each of its three class wins, Julian said his team dealt with having different crew members as well, adding to the magnitude of its accomplishment.
“We had different engineers and different crew members [each year],” he said. “We really shuffled the deck and still got the same result.
“[Each win was] different because the crews are different.
“There are different reasons why people are here and different approaches to what they do.
“It is still a Pro-Am class, but I dare you say it was a Pro-Am class past 11 p.m. last night. It was 13 hours of some of the best lineups I’ve seen.
“I say they would challenge any lineup in DPi. It was a shame we didn’t all have DPis!”
While the driver lineup as one-off entry, DragonSpeed will continue in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year with Juan Pablo Montoya and Bronze-rated Henrik Hedman for the remainder of the LMP2 season.
Montoya’s son, Sebastian, is set to complete the lineup for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report