Porsche wins Rolex 24 at Daytona, ending 55-year drought for Roger Penske

Felipe Nasr took the checkered flag in the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona, delivering team owner Roger Penske his first overall victory in 55 years at the endurance race classic.

Nasr took the lead from Tom Blomqvist during a pit stop under yellow on Lap 768 with just over 45 minutes left. After a restart with 31 minutes remaining, Nasr fended off several challenges from the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac V-Series.R that had started on the pole position.

It was only the second overall victory in the Rolex 24 for Penske, who won on the Daytona International Speedway road course in 1969 with a Lola T-70/Chevrolet whose lineup included the late Mark Donohue.

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"You think about 1969 we won here with a Lola, and things were a lot different in those days," Penske told NBC Sports' Kevin Lee in victory lane. "Just to think about today, the biggest crowd they’ve had here for a sports car race. My hat’s off to IMSA, obviously for Porsche to give us the equipment. But the drivers and at the end there with Felipe

"But just to see the competitiveness and six or seventh tenths of a second was the difference after 24 hours. That’s unbelievable. Hard to say."

Even for the legendary team owner, it's been a whirlwind eight months that started with a record-extending 19th win in the Indy 500 for Team Penske. In November, Ryan Blaney won the second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship for Penske.

The 86-year-old motorsports icon's next big goal comes in June with the 24 Hours of Le Mans — one of the only major motorsports events that remains unconquered by Penske.

"Last year at Le Mans we stumbled and we had some good runs last year, but to come back here and have both cars run for 24 hours and then win the race, it’s hard for me to believe it," Penske said. "I’ll tell you, this goes down as one of the biggest wins we’ve had. Now we have to go for the big one at Le Mans, you know that."

Nasr, who joined Porsche Penske Motorsport last year, earned his first overall Rolex 24 victory after winning in GTD Pro two years ago.

"It’s just incredible to think we pulled that one off," Nasr told Lee. "It all came down to the fuel game pretty much."

His teammates on the No. 7 were Matt Campbell, Dane Cameron and Josef Newgarden, who became the second reigning Indy 500 winner to win the Rolex 24 in the past three years. Helio Castroneves took the checkered flag in the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona after scoring his fourth Indy 500 victory eight months earlier.

"I just showed up," said Newgarden, who was making his second Rolex 24 start but first in the premier prototype category. "Porsche and Team Penske, they delivered the biggest result. But Felipe, the way he drove at the end, and Matt Campbell. These guys won this race. I was just happy to be here. What an unbelievable group. They’re going to cherish this for a long time."

The No. 7 Porsche had led for more than five hours after Campbell had taken the overall lead on Lap 594. But Blomqvist charged into the lead in Turn 1 on Lap 749 by outbraking Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963.

"It’s incredible the way this race ebbs and flows and the way we took it to the Cadillacs today," Campbell told Lee. "Hats off to them. They really gave it to us. To finally get our first big victory in the world is phenomenal. What a team. We finally got it done."

The victory marked Porsche's first overall win at Daytona in 14 years.

It's also the first endurance victory for Porsche Penske Motorsport since entering the rebranded GTP category last year. After more than a year of developing the new hybrid prototype for the top class, the Porsche Penske 963s flamed out in last year's Rolex 24 with 42nd- and 14th-place finishes marred by mechanical failures and crashes.

"I'm so proud of these guys; we had so many issues in the long races last year," said Cameron, who won his first Rolex 24 after 15 years of trying. "So much work to tune this thing up. (Nasr and Campbell) were unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable."

Blomqvist came up 2.112 seconds short of a third consecutive Rolex 24 victory, nearly closing the win for the second consecutive year after winning in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 last year. Blomqvist drove nearly the final three hours after taking the wheel from Jack Aitken.

''They were really quick at times; we were quick at times," Blomqvist said of the Porsches. "We were maybe a little bit better having to take care of tires and double stinting. They were really strong on restarts, especially at night. The last couple of stints, I was slowly chipping away, and we decided to take an early stop to undercut. The whole goal was to make a gap with a longer stoppage time, unfortunately, that (last) yellow ended our chances really, especially where we are in pit lane and not being able to react to the car behind. That hurt us.

"I think it would be closer if that yellow hadn’t come out. At the end of the race, we had the pace advantage, it was just so difficult to pass. Porsche was good on the straights, we were really good in the infield. Felipe did one small mistake at the end, but other than that there was no opportunity. Huge hats off to them."

Pipo Derani filled out the runner-up lineup for the No. 31, which was the only car of the 10 Grand Touring Prototype entries to use three drivers instead of four. The No. 31 was trying to open the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on top after winning the inaugural GTP championship last year.

Rounding out the overall podium, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti's Louis Deletraz finished third in the No. 40 ARX-06 as Acura came up short in its bid for a fourth consecutive Rolex 24 win.

Other category winners were the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA in LMP2, the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari in GTD Pro and the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes in GTD.

Click here for updates from earlier in the race.


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