Barber flashback: A pleasant surprise in 2012

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Barber Motorsports Park’s reputation as a track that was too narrow for IndyCars to produce solid racing on was successfully rehabilitated in last year’s running of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

In previous events on the 2.3-mile road course outside Birmingham, the lone major passing zone had been the Turn 5-6 hairpin known as ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ But in 2012’s action-packed affair, which served as the road course debut for the turbo-charged Dallara DW12, wheel-to-wheel battles ensued all over the track in places that hadn’t been considered ripe for passing opportunities before.

When the dust settled, however, a familiar name was atop the podium. Will Power came from ninth on the grid to claim his second career win at Barber, withstanding a restart challenge from Scott Dixon at Lap 74 and pulling away to a 2.7-second win.

He later said that he thought a victory was not possible after qualifying as far back in the field as he did.

“We went in thinking that we have to kind of be a little off strategy to the other guys to be able to pass around here,” Power said. “So we started on black [primary] tires, everyone else started on [alternate] reds. We went to reds when everyone was on blacks. That got us a couple of spots.

“Then…Good stops and good strategy calls put me out in clean air, so we could use our speed. We slowly passed one by one. It was a very good team effort, absolute team effort. The strategy was perfect. The stops were perfect.”

Power would credit Firestone’s softer tire compounds on both the primary and alternate tires for the amount of passing overall.

“I really thought, as green as the race was, you put it down to the tires really, the fact that the tires had a discrepancy from brand-new to old of up to two seconds, three seconds,” he said. “That allowed for good passing. It really eradicated fuel saving because often we go in, we start lifting, fuel saving. Doing that with the tires eradicated that.

“It was just hard racing. I ran hard the whole day, never saved fuel.”

Dixon came home second, followed by Helio Castroneves in third, Graham Rahal in fourth and Simon Pagenaud in fifth.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.