Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 20 hours — less than 4 hours remain

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Over 20 hours are in the books for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. But, while there are less than four hours remaining, there is still plenty of racing left to run, and with more frontrunners encountering problems, the race is far from over.

The class leaders at the Hour 20 mark are below.

Prototype

No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, Joao Barbosa

No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi, Felipe Nasr

No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca 07 Gibson, Romain Dumas

GTLM

No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Sebastien Bourdais

No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Scott Dixon

No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, Antonio Garcia

GTD

No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Franck Perera

No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, AJ Allmendinger

No. 48 Paul Miller Racing, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Andrea Caldarelli

Action Express Continues to Lead, But Problems Start to Surface

The two Action Express Racing cars still run 1-2 overall, but both have experienced cooling issues as the race heads to its closing stages.

The race-leading No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi took advantage of a full-course caution to make a quick dive into the garage area to check engine temperatures and add water. While the trip took many by surprise, it appeared to only be a minor check to add water and the car quickly rejoined, maintaining its lead. Joao Barbosa is currently at the helm.

However, the sister No. 31 Cadillac, which at one time was within half-a-second and pushing for the lead, was forced to spend a little extra time in the garage fighting the same issue, and actually lost three laps in the process. Still, the No. 31, now in the hands of Felipe Nasr, runs second.

Behind them, a new challenger has emerged in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca, which moved into third after the No. 32 United Autosports entry encountered problems. Though four laps off the lead, the No. 54 machine, currently with Romain Dumas at the controls, could capitalize if the aforementioned issues for Action Express surface again.

Fords Continue to Dominate GTLM

The two Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing remain dominant in GTLM, but are running nose-to-tail and poised to stage an intra-team battle for the GTLM win. Currently, the No. 66 leads, in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, with Scott Dixon running second in the No. 67.

However, Corvette Racing is still in contention, the No. 3 C7.R running third and still on the same lap as the Fords. Mike Rockenfeller is currently at the wheel.

Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes Doing Battle for GTD Lead

The close GT Daytona battle sees Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes emerging as the frontrunning marques, with the top four in class all on the same lap.

The No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from GRT Grasser Racing Team has moved into the lead with Franck Perera.

However, the Michael Shank No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian is running a strong second, overcoming a brief off-course excursion after driver Katherine Legge was bumped off track by the No. 38 Performance Tech Racing Oreca as they approached the International Horseshoe.

Legge quickly regrouped and did not lose much time. AJ Allmendinger is now at the helm.

The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini sits third, with Andrea Caldarelli at the wheel.

The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports runs fourth, having recently spent time in the top three as well, with Luca Stolz now in control.

Below is a report on other notable happenings.

Wayne Taylor Racing Out After Several Tire Failures

A number of Prototype entries have experienced tire problems in the first 20 hours of running, but Wayne Taylor Racing has probably been hit the hardest. Suffering no fewer than seven punctures, they had their latest one late in Hour 17, forcing Renger Van Der Zande to once again bring the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R back to the garage.

Team owner Wayne Taylor subsequently retired the car, citing the aforementioned tire problems and an inability to determine a solution to prevent them.

United Autosports Hits More Problems

United Autosports’ No. 32 Ligier had been running a strong third, behind the top two Cadillacs from Action Express, but a clutch problem forced an unscheduled pit stop for repairs.

They were able to rejoin relatively quickly, but dropped to fifth, seven laps off the lead. Paul Di Resta is now behind the wheel.

Live timing can be found here.

Hour 20 Standings

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.