Sign of things to come? — Gene Haas goes from calling Danica Patrick a ‘long shot’ in F1 to ‘a dream driver’

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A week ago in Montreal while preparing to watch Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, Gene Haas said that while Danica Patrick racing in Formula One “would be great for America,” he also called such a prospect “kind of a long shot.”

One week later, Haas is talking more like Patrick may be a potential second driver on his two-car F1 team set to debut in 2016.

In an interview with Formula1.com, Haas appeared to scale back significantly on his doubt of Patrick racing in F1 to a much more positive tone.

“Danica Patrick in one of our cars would be the dream driver,” Haas said.

“She surely fits the bill,” Haas added. “She is a woman in a man’s sport that would attract a lot of attention. She weighs about 50 kilos (roughly 110 lbs.) – which these days sounds fantastic – so indeed she’s got a lot of attributes that would be good to have.”

Haas already co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing, for which Patrick is contracted to race the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for through the 2015 season.

But with Haas’ plans to go F1 racing the following year, Patrick could very well be in the right place at the right time contractually – she could sign a new deal to race in F1 right after her NASCAR deal expires – to become one of the biggest stories the international open-wheel circuit has ever had.

And Haas did little to deny that as a possibility. Consider his answer when asked if he would consider a woman driving for him in F1:

“Definitely, but realistically the first driver is going to be a current F1 driver who knows the ins and outs of the sport, to help us sort out what we have to do and who can give a lot of feedback,” Haas said. “In that mold would be driver number one. Driver number two would be American.”

So is it too much of a stretch to think that driver number two would be an American woman, perhaps?

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

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.