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Helio Castroneves wins Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Helio Castroneves kept the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 ahead of the field during the final 30 minutes to lift MSR and co-drivers Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud to victory Sunday in the 60th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA.

Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

The win led to Castroneves’ signature celebratory move of climbing the fence, which he made famous during four Indianapolis 500 wins.

“It sounds cliche, but it’s all about believing,” Castroneves said. “I believe in them, they believe in me. This is exactly what is happening with this group here. With Simon, with Tom and with Oliver – we all believed that we could do it.”

It was Castroneves’ second consecutive Rolex 24 victory. Last year, he won the race as part of Wayne Taylor Racing, then climbed a fence in Victory Lane. This time, Castroneves fought off the No. 10 WTR Acura and driver Ricky Taylor to win, then stopped at the start-finish line and climbed the catch fence.

Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

“That was absolutely incredible,” he said. “I’m so happy for the entire group. Everyone did their job. At the end, I said, ‘Put me in, Coach.’ It was great.”

The victory ended Wayne Taylor Racing’s bid to win the race for a record fourth consecutive time. As the Meyer Shank Racing celebration moved from the fence to the pits, Wayne Taylor was among the first to congratulate his former driver.

The trip to the top of the podium continued the resurgence of the career of Castroneves, 46. After winning last year’s Rolex 24 with WTR, Castroneves went on to win the Indy 500 with MSR, tying A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for most Indy 500 wins in a career.

Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

“It’s priceless,” Castroneves said. “In my case, I’m still very passionate about it and learning every day … and improving my driving skills. That’s what makes me a better driver. That’s why I enjoy it. That’s why when I go out there I push as hard as I can.”

Ricky Taylor finished 3.028 seconds behind Castroneves for WTR teammates Filipe Albuquerque, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi. The 1-2 Acura sweep came 18 hours after both cars fell off the lead lap and trailed the five Cadillacs in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class.

Loic Duval brought the No. 5 JDC Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi-V.R in third place with teammates Tristan Vautier, Richard Westbrook and Ben Keating.

The key to winning may have been the run by Blomqvist before Castroneves’ finishing run. Blomqvist got the No. 60 car into the lead with a back-and-forth duel with Taylor, then handed it to Castroneves.

“I was speechless after the race,” Blomqvist said. “I’ve dreamt of it. Did I believe? Yes. But you never know. It’s 24 hours of relentless racing. Every time I jumped in the car at moments I felt really comfortable and moments when I was like, ‘Man, I can’t get this car to work. It was just a rollercoaster of a race.”

DragonSpeed USA Flies to LMP2 Victory

In one of the most all-around dramatic Rolex 24 At DAYTONA races in history, the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 rallied from five laps down to win the LMP2 class of the twice-around-the-clock race. Despite freezing cold conditions overnight at Daytona International Speedway, the group of highly-inspired young drivers were blazing fast come Sunday sunrise.

Armed with youthful enthusiasm and great racing talent, DragonSpeed’s roster of longtime friends overcame fast competition, pit road challenges and uncharacteristically cold weather to claim the team’s first ever victory in the season-opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

DragsonSpeed experienced problems right away – a technical glitch hampered pit road visits resulting in multiple speeding penalties that put it behind early. But the team finally got the system righted and it was go-time by nightfall.

Sports car veteran Eric Lux and IndyCar Series stars Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Devlin DeFrancesco kept making up ground in the class before ultimately handing over the car to Herta in the closing laps to bring home the victory.

Ultimately, DragonSpeed claimed a 7.089-second victory over the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland car co-driven by Frits van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde, Dylan Murry and another IndyCar driver, Rinus VeeKay.

Riley Motorsports Cruises to LMP3 Victory

The No. 74 Riley Motorsports team continues to own the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship LMP3 class by defending its Rolex 24 at DAYTONA. Gar Robinson, who was last year’s LMP3 driver champion, joined Felipe Fraga, Kay van Berlo and Michael Cooper to claim class honors once again.

“There isn’t one race on the schedule that’s easy to win,” Robinson said. “But when you do it with the team like we have, with Bill Riley and all the guys back at the shop, and all the prep we do, it does generate the results.

The winning car turned 723 laps over Daytona’s 3.56-mile road course with a margin of victory of one lap.

IMSA introduced the LMP3 class in 2021 and for Robinson it was like a duck to water. He won last year’s Rolex 24 then tacked on four more wins before claiming the inaugural championship. He has a series-leading six career LMP3 wins. Fraga, who took the car to the checkered flag, has five.

The No. 74 went to lead for good at the 20-hour, 28-minute mark (612 laps) with van Berlo at the wheel.

The No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 driven by Joao Barbosa, Seb Priaulx, Lance Willsey and Malthe Jakobsen secured second-place honors in this hard-fought battle. Barbosa is a four-time Rolex 24 winner.

Be on the lookout for information for next year’s twice-around-the-clock classic by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Daytona 500 Around the Corner!

Now that the checkered flag has fallen on the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the World Center of Racing will begin its focus on DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth (Feb. 15-20) and the 64th Annual DAYTONA 500. The week will feature six days of incredible on-track action with practices, qualifying and a total of six races among four different series. It will allow fans several possibilities to see the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen car, plus some of the greatest drivers in the world in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the ARCA Menards Series.

 

For ticket information on Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth events, log onto www.DAYTONA500.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP. If fans are looking to buy or sell reserved seats for the DAYTONA 500, please visit SeatGeek, the Preferred Ticket Exchange of the DAYTONA 500 and Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.

 

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