Wayne Taylor Racing has its third straight Rolex 24 win.
WTR’s No. 10 Acura won the 24-hour race at Daytona as Filipe Albuquerque drove the car to the finish ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 48. Albuquerque looked set for an epic battle to the finish with Renger van der Zande in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 over the final 10 minutes of the race, but a tire problem forced van der Zande to pit the car with eight minutes left.
As it has done before, the No. 10 car driven by Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, IndyCar star Alexander Rossi and former Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, hung around on the lead lap for much of the race. And then the team made its move after the sun came up on Sunday. The team took control of the race thanks to some optimal pit strategy with about four hours left and then used a varying strategy to keep the lead in the final hour.
“It’s like f****** awesome,” a jubilant and sleep-deprived Wayne Taylor said after the race in victory lane.
Taylor said he was nervous as his No. 10 was being chased by van der Zande. But he found a way to calm his nerves.
“You know what happened, I had about that much of vodka just at the end,” Taylor said holding his thumb and index finger about a shot’s height apart. “I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
That hold on the lead looked tenuous before the No. 01 had to come to pit road. The No. 10 took just left-side tires on its final pit stop as it aimed to spend less time on pit road on its final stop while pitting after both the No. 01 and the No. 48. That move worked as Albuquerque ended up significantly ahead of both Cadillacs.
But van der Zande caught Albuquerque over the final half hour and got to his bumper a couple of times. He looked poised to mount another challenge in the waning minutes of the race but the flat tire ruined the team’s chances at a win.
The No. 48 Action Express car that finished second was co-driven by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, former Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and Mike Rockenfeller. The No. 01’s driver lineup featured IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and former Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen.
The No. 31 DPi co-driven by 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott finished sixth. The team was many laps down at the end of the race after nighttime mechanical problems ruined any chance the team had at the win.
Had either van der Zande or Kobayashi won on Sunday, the victorious driver would have been the first to win three consecutive Rolex 24s. Both drivers were on WTR’s winning team in 2019 and 2020, but parted ways with the team after the 2020 season when WTR switched from Cadillac to Acura. WTR is the first team to win three consecutive Rolex 24s since Ganassi’s team won three straight from 2006-08.
Driver on winning Corvette team tests positive for COVID-19
Chevrolet said immediately after the race that Antonio Garcia had been pulled from the car during the race because he tested positive for COVID-19. Garcia was one of the drivers on the team’s No. 3 car that won the GTLM class. Jordan Taylor — Wayne’s younger son — was behind the wheel of the No. 3 car at the finish.
“While Antonio Garcia tested negative in preparation for his arrival for the Rolex 24, we have received notice that he has now tested positive in preparation to depart the country,” Chevy said in a statement. “He was immediately pulled from competition upon notification of the positive test result and, although he wasn’t experiencing any symptoms, will no longer participate in any additional race activities at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Upon consulting with IMSA and its Event Operations Protocols, the series determined Corvette Racing met all conditions under the IMSA event protocols that allowed it to compete in a safe and responsible manner. We have notified crew members and others who had contact with Antonio and will conduct testing with racing team members after 72 hours, per CDC guidelines.”
Garcia’s final stint in the car ended at approximately 9 a.m. ET on Sunday. He said on Twitter after the race that he had contracted COVID-19 in December and had been symptomatic. It’s worth reiterating that he did test negative to be able to travel to the Rolex 24 and compete over the weekend.
IMSA, like NASCAR, is owned by the France family. Competitors and team members are not tested for COVID-19 ahead of race weekends. Garcia was tested for COVID-19 because he was set to travel internationally.
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