Jimmie Johnson still looking for return to commanding form

0 Comments

Jimmie Johnson started his Sprint Cup title defense with a 12th-place finish last weekend at Chicagoland, which puts him eighth in the Chase standings going into Sunday at New Hampshire.

But while he’s currently in position to advance into the next round, he knows that he and the 48 bunch need to go from good to great in order to take home a record-tying seventh Cup.

For a mid-season stretch, it appeared that Johnson had re-captured his normal degree of dominance with three wins (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Dover, and Michigan) in the span of four races. But he’s only collected two Top-5 finishes in the 12 events since that Michigan triumph in June.

Johnson feels that his team’s not far off from where they need to be, but that last little bit of performance seems to be proving hard to keep.

“The rules have changed so much,” he explained. “We feel that in some ways, the opportunity to help the car turn through the corner with this rules package and all the changes that have been made, a lot of tools have been taken away from us.

“So, I’m trying to get my head around, ‘How do I drive a tighter race car? And then, how do we get speed?’ We had it right for three races this year, so it’s in there. But, you all see how close the times are in practice and qualifying in the race.

“You’re not looking for a ton – just a half a tenth to a tenth will completely turn things around. So, we’re looking for just that little sliver of speed to get back to a dominant position.”

Johnson admitted that the ability to be close but not quite up to the lofty standards that he and his team have set over the last decade has bothered them somewhat.

However, they’re far from a stage of panic.

“As the No. 48, and in the culture of Hendrick Motorsports, we expect a lot out of ourselves, let alone what any outside pressure would be,” he said. “And we’re not where we want to be. But again, with this format of the Chase, there’s time.

“In some respects, it could be a little bit more forgiving for you, where the gross points total doesn’t determine the champion at the end of the year.

“So, we’re going to play the game that’s ahead for us and get the best we can and hopefully heat up as this Chase wears on.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

0 Comments

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.