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WeatherTech Championship

Pagenaud, Penske in Front at Halfway Mark

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud leads the way at the halfway mark of the Rolex 24…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Simon Pagenaud leads the way at the halfway mark of the Rolex 24 at Daytona after inheriting the top spot when his Team Penske teammate Graham Rahal spun in Turn 1 while leading.

After slipping back to third in his first stint behind the wheel of the No. 7 Acura ARX-05, Rahal vaulted back to the lead during the pit sequence when his team elected to double stint its Continental tires while the rival Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R machines took tires during their most recent stops.

Pagenaud also benefited from the strategy to move into second position, but when Rahal spun Pagenaud brought the No. 6 Acura to the front with the AXR Cadillacs of Christian Fittipaldi and Mike Conway close behind.

Rahal managed to restart the car and rejoined the field in fourth, the last car on the lead lap.

Pipo Derani runs fifth for Tequila Patron ESM but is two laps behind the overall leaders.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing maintains its stranglehold on the GT Le Mans class with the No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller holding a 0.607 second advantage over Ryan Briscoe in the sister No. 67 machine.

The Fords are the only cars remaining on the lead lap in class, with Mike Rockenfeller’s No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R holding third one lap behind the leaders.

Rolf Ineichen holds the lead in GT Daytona for the Grasser Racing Team in the No. 11 Lamborghini Hurracan GT3 with Michael Shank Racing’s AJ Allmendinger and Paul Miller Racing’s Andrea Caldarelli in hot pursuit driving an Acura NSX GT3 and Lamborghini respectively.

The No. 23 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Fernando Alonso, Phil Hanson, and Lando Norris suffered a lengthy setback when Alonso brought the car to the garage with a brake cylinder problem.

After 38 minutes of repairs, the car rejoined the fight with Norris replacing the double world champion behind the wheel and currently runs 15th in class 26 laps behind the overall leader.

The No. 29 Land Motorsport Audi, which had dominated the early portions of the race in GTD prior to a penalty, fell further behind when it came into the pits for a rear wing repair and now runs ninth.

Of note, the halfway mark is one of the points in the race where Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup points are awarded.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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