Chicago Update: Knaus explains slow stop for Johnson

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Jimmie Johnson has been one of the stronger cars so far during today’s Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway, which is currently under a red flag for rain at Lap 110. However, he hit a bit of a snag earlier on during a green flag stop, his second of the day, at Lap 75.

An already slow stop was made even slower after an official reported that a lug nut was loose on Johnson’s right-rear tire. That led to some frantic moments among the 48 crew before Johnson was able to get on his way.

Johnson fell from the lead to fifth, and had moved up to fourth behind race leader Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano when rain forced the yellow at Lap 107. Three laps later, the red was brought out.

ESPN caught up with Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus (pictured, right, with Johnson), who explained the incident on pit road.

“There was one hanging there,” Knaus said. “One had fallen off during the hand-in so it was kind of hanging there. But the tire changer had taken the time – he did his job, did a great job – of getting the other lug nut on there and making sure it was tight. The official thought there were only four on there.

“We all make mistakes. That happens from time to time. Hopefully, we can get the Lowe’s Chevrolet back towards the front and get up there and compete for the win.”

Johnson tried to keep his cool during the long stop, but also admitted to ESPN that he “could see confusion.”

“I saw an official waving, I saw my rear tire changer done and at the wall arguing with Chad, telling him that the lugs were on,” he said. “In the end, I guess the official thought all the lugs weren’t on the right rear and that was where there was a conversation and an argument.

“Chad didn’t want me to leave the box without the lugs on and get a penalty, and on and on it went. Long story short, I sat there on pit road while the clock was ticking…[We] certainly lost track position, but I think we’ve got the car to get back up there. We just need to get this place to dry out, get my Lowe’s Chevy back on the road, and we’ll be in good shape.”

First thing’s first, though, and, to borrow Johnson’s line, that’s getting the place to dry out. We’ll see how long it takes.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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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

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

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.