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: 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.