Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 9 hours — less than 15 hours remain

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Our next update will be around 7:30 a.m. ET. Please check back then.

We’re nine-plus hours down and 15 more hours to go in the 56th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Ricky Taylor, who was questionable whether he’d be able to race after being bed-ridden the previous three days with a bad case of the flu, has come out of sick bay in a big way.

Taylor, driving Team Penske’s No. 7 Acura DPI, leads Joao Barbosa and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Team Penske Acura Dpi.

After nine hours, which came at 11:30 p.m. ET, the leaders are:

 PROTOTYPE:

  • No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac Dpi, Whelen Engineering Racing, Cadillac Dpi, Joao Barbosa
  • No. 7 Acura Team Penske, Acura Dpi, Ricky Taylor
  • No. 6 Acura Team Penske, Acura Dpi, Simon Pagenaud

GTLM:

  • No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Joey Hand
  • No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Scott Dixon
  • No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, James Calado

GTD:

  • No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS GT3, Christopher Mies
  • No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3, Adam Christodoulou
  • No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, Katherine Legge

There’s still another 15 hours remaining in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.

Since our last report after the first six hours, here are some of the more notable things that transpired between hours seven through nine:

SLIP SLIDING AWAY

Don Yount crashed into the tire wall early into Hour No. 7. Yount was entering the bus stop when his No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 got away from him.

The car didn’t suffer much damage, but then when Yount got going and headed for pit road, he overshot his pit stall. IMSA officials forced team members to push the car back into the pit stall, costing about 30 seconds.

The car was examined, some adjustments were made to the front end suspension and Yount was back on-track.

TANDY WRECKS HARD, SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO NO. 911 PORSCHE GTLM

Just a few minutes into the ninth hour, Nick Tandy and the No. 911 Porsche 199 RSR GTLM of the Porsche GT team hit hard into a tire wall.

The car spun around and hit the wall again, then kept spinning after bouncing off the rubber, suffering significant damage.

After the car came to a stop, Tandy quickly hustled the car to the garage for repairs. But given the damage to the front and rear of the Porsche, it’ll be a while before it gets back on-track – if it gets back on-track.

FROM FASTEST TO SLOWEST IN A POOF

The fastest car on the track at times became the slowest on the track when the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.4 Prototype of Wayne Taylor Racing, driven by Renger Van Der Zande, blew a right rear tire and had to limp to the pits.

Unfortunately, damage caused by the shredded tire was extensive, prompting the team to push the car back to the garage after attempting to make fixes on pit road.

Several cars have lost right rear tires to punctures and blow outs across all three classes – Prototype, GTLM and GTD.

The No. 10, which had Zande, IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jordan Taylor, was among the strongest of the race, but it’ll have to come back a long way to make up for lost time as the race moves into the middle part of the race from Hours 9 to 18.

It’s the third tire failure for the team in the first nine races – all in the same area – and this one was by far the worst.

“This is now the third failure and it’s not even as if the tires are well-worn,” team owner Wayne Taylor told FS1. “It’s something I certainly have no idea of what’s going on.”

The car went back on-track just three minutes before the start of the ninth hour, but was scored 10 laps down to the leaders.

CADDY CATASTROPHE

The No. 10 wasn’t the only Cadillac that suffered problems.

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac Dpi Prototype suffered a serious mechanical failure.

The car was brought back to the garage for repairs, when the following bad news occurred a short time afterward:

ALONSO TAKES OVER 3 LAPS DOWN

The No. 23 United Autosports Liger LMP2 suffered a tire issue in the eighth hour that caused significant damage, dropping it three laps off the pace.

The incident occurred just before Phil Hanson turned the car over to 2-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso. While three laps down is significant, Alonso has the talent to make up a lot of ground, especially if issues happen to other Prototypes running ahead of him.

Alonso is expected to drive at least two, maybe even three more segments in the remainder of the event.

KEEP FIGHTING, NO MATTER HOW MANY LAPS YOU’RE DOWN

Wright Motorsports’ No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R day started off with a bang – but not in a good way.

The No. 58 made contact with the Turn 5 wall on the driver’s side on the pre-race lap, sustaining heavy damage.

In fact, it was already in the garage to begin repairs before the green flag even dropped. It ultimately returned to the track, but 106 laps behind the GTD leader.

The team had been heavily favored to potentially capture the GTD title, given the driver lineup of Patrick Long (who had been behind the wheel when the wreck occurred), two-time and defending GTD champion Christina Nielsen and Mathieu Jaminet.

NHRA shocker in Houston: John Force fails to qualify for first time since 2008, snaps 221-race streak

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA
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Sunday’s eliminations in the 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston  just won’t be the same without John Force.

In one of the most stunning turn of events seen in the last decade-plus in NHRA drag racing, the legendary 16-time Funny Car champion and the sport’s all-time winningest driver on Saturday failed to qualify for Sunday’s main event of the race weekend.

It marks the first time Force, who turns 69 on May 4, failed to qualify for a race since Sept. 13, 2008 in Charlotte race, snapping a string of having made the eliminations in each of the subsequent 221 races until failing to do so Saturday.

“That is hard for me,” Force said after failing to go any faster than 222.29 mph in the four qualifying rounds for the race, two on Friday and the other two on Saturday. “You earn what you get. We didn’t put it in the show. We couldn’t get to half-track.

“We have had a lot of problems all year. At least I got my final shot to get in and I didn’t make it. I will be here tomorrow rooting on Robert, Courtney and Brittany (teammates Robert Hight and daughters Courtney and Brittany Force). I’ll be signing autographs for all the fans. I am sorry to all of you fans that I didn’t make it.”

Saturday’s failure to qualify marked only the 22nd time he’s DNQ’d in his 40-year professional drag racing career. He set a drag racing record by qualifying for 395 consecutive events from 1988 until April 2007.

“I am bummed that the boss didn’t get in. That was quite a streak he had going,” Hight said of hoss and father-in-law. “There is nobody better at rallying a team and leading a comeback than John Force.

“He loves the fight and he will do whatever it takes to get his team back on top. It really isn’t something to worry about because two of our Chevys are No.1 and No. 2 right now.

“We have good combinations and we just have to duplicate one of those set ups for John’s PEAK Funny car. He’ll be back next week in Charlotte.”

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As for the other classes (information courtesy NHRA Media Relations):Leah Pritchett set a new Top Fuel track record during the final qualifying session on Saturday to secure the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Sunday.Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Defending event champion Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge dragster to a pass of 3.680-seconds at 326.00 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.

“We’ve been developing our confidence the last couple of races,” Pritchett stated. “To be able to put it on the track is phenomenal. We know we need to be exceptional because our competition is exceptional.”

Pritchett will line up against Terry Brian in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Defending world champion Brittany Force locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.701 at 313.80 in her Monster Energy dragster. Tony Schumacher is seeded third and will face William Litton.

Hight’s final qualifying pass of 3.894 at 317.27 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the Funny Car category. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second at Houston and 58th of his career.

“This is going to be a new ball game tomorrow,” Hight said. “With fresh asphalt and the sun being out; these cars are going to spin. It’s definitely going to be fun. Two of our Chevy’s are one and two (in Funny Car) which shows we have good combinations.”

Hight will face-off against Todd Simpson Sunday morning in the first round. Teammate Courtney Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.911 at 295.14 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro and two-time world champion Matt Hagan rounds out the top three.

Anderson, four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.492 at 213.00 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the first qualifying session on Friday. He notched his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and is seeking his first victory of the year.

“I haven’t had great Sunday’s yet,” Anderson stated. “I know I’m going to break through one of these days though. The weather is going to be great again tomorrow. I feel good about it, I’m excited and so far it’s just been a great weekend.”

Anderson will race Steve Graham in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified in the No. 2 position with a pass of 6.504 at 212.36 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and Tanner Gray is third.

Eliminations at the NHRA SpringNationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.680 seconds, 326.00 mph vs. 16. Terry Brian, 4.275, 284.62; 2. Brittany Force, 3.701, 320.20 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.081, 287.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 322.73 vs. 14. Bill Litton, 3.927, 306.60; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.737, 317.87 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.819, 313.51; 5. Antron Brown, 3.740, 324.98 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.783, 314.31; 6. Clay Millican, 3.746, 315.78 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.766, 313.73; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.748, 320.05 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 316.23; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.754, 318.17 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.759, 313.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Totten, 4.636, 216.34.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 317.27 vs. 16. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, 4.318, 288.33; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.911, 313.58 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.151, 283.49; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.913, 311.85 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.077, 305.77; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.918, 317.42 vs. 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.026, 308.99; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.918, 301.94 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.017, 307.51; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.925, 311.41 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.994, 311.34; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.926, 313.00 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.989, 313.37; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.927, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.341, 273.05; 18. John Force, 4.625, 222.29.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.492, 213.00 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.775, 205.60; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.504, 212.36 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.621, 208.65; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.507, 211.99 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 210.93; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.29 vs. 13. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 210.67; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 210.50; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.525, 212.79 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 212.73; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.527, 212.29 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 211.79; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.528, 211.93 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 211.33.