IMSA’s season-opening weekend in Daytona was undoubtedly a roller-coaster of emotions for Scott Tucker.
The Level 5 Motorsports team owner scored a milestone 100th career victory in Friday’s Ferrari Challenge race and watched his new customer GTD program take the checkered flag in the Rolex 24, only to be given a post-race penalty for avoidable contact deemed by the race director.
However, the ruling was overturned some four hours later by IMSA, which confirmed Tucker and co-drivers Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal, Bill Sweedler and Alessandro Pier Guidi as class winners in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic, although long after the formal round of victory celebrations had concluded.
Sportscar365 caught up with Tucker to get his thoughts on the history making weekend, which saw him complete the U.S. endurance racing triple crown of class wins at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
How does it feel to be a Rolex 24 winner?
“Obviously Daytona is something very special, both here in America and around the world. When you think about the famous names that have won there — Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Mark Donohue — every driver wants to be on that list. With all of the time and effort we have put into the Rolex 24 over the years, I am very proud to celebrate this with the entire Level 5 team. Of course we are all especially proud to deliver this win for Ferrari.”
What was going through your mind after the race when the No. 555 Ferrari was penalized?
“It seems very odd and strange to me that it took a regrettable four-hour closed door meeting after the race to decide such an obvious call, evidenced by the outcry from the fans. I have no further comment except to apologize to the entire Level 5 team, our clients, sponsors and Ferrari for not getting to participate in the legendary Rolex 24 podium ceremonies. These are very precious moments and memories that only come around once in a lifetime.”
Has it been a big change going from prototypes to a customer GTD program?
“We got these cars just a few weeks ago. The team has tremendous experience with all different types of cars, series and programs, so things are pretty well-rehearsed. I built this business from the start with the customer program in mind. We reached critical mass so to speak in 2013 with our capabilities, staff, and racing resume. When the merger was announced, I knew that was the market’s signal to expand.”
What are some of the differences in this year’s program?
“Obviously, we’ve added some great talent to the effort by partnering with Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Mike LaMarra, Terry Borcheller and Jeff Segal. But, the goal is always to field the best possible entry and dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’, systematically eliminating every possible variable. Our approach in that regard does not change. The win proves we have the right approach, process and people.”
Did you ever expect to get to 100 wins in your driving career?
“I didn’t set out with any numbers in mind, but I wanted to put forth my best effort — in every race — toward winning. That’s why you race. Reaching that milestone is a great opportunity to look back and think about all of the great people who have been a part of it.”
What are your most memorable victories?
“This race is right up there at the top along with the four consecutive wins and Sebring and Petit Le Mans.”
What’s the status of the team’s PC program, which had initially been on the full-season entry list?
“The PC program we have put together is a program that was designed to win the championship. We are still in the process of finding the right drivers and sponsors that can execute on that program.”