MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Saturday blog

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12:15 p.m. ET – More than 10 hours are in the books and the best part of the race has been a double-barreled scrap for the lead in two of the four classes.

Larson and Ricky Taylor exchanged the top spot several times with Larson ahead overall at the 10-hour mark.

Meanwhile in the GTLM class, five cars have traded the top spot. Right now, it’s Pierre Kaffer in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia on top.

This will be my last update in this post before doing a separate round of updates on Sunday… since it’s now Sunday.

11:11 p.m. ET – The race is back green after a yellow for the Action Express Racing Corvette DP, the No. 5 car that won last year, stopped on track with fuel pressure issues per IMSA Radio.

Meanwhile NASCAR star Kyle Larson is now behind the wheel of the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford.

10:15 p.m. ET – The race is past the eight-hour mark, I’m starting to get a little punchy, and the man, the myth, the legend that is Rommy – anyone who has been at a NASCAR, IndyCar or sports car race in years will know who he is – has taken over the Magnus Racing webcast.

Yes, there is still a race going on, but lord have mercy this is surreal.

9:25 p.m. ET – Francois Perrodo has not covered himself in glory this month at Daytona.

The French gentleman driver, paired with two Ferrari aces in Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander and former Rolex 24 overall winner Emmanuel Collard, spun at Turn 6 but then later attempted another baffling reentry into the track. In doing so, he took out a harmless and luckless Brandon Davis, who was in the polesitting No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

This is Perrodo’s second wreck this month after also crashing during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia.

While TRG-AMR team principal Kevin Buckler had every right to go off in a TV interview, he was very restrained and respectful under the circumstances.

“I don’t even know what to say. Francois something,” Buckler told FOX Sports’ Andrew Marriott. “How can you not see us coming in there? My god. Brandon had a great drive. Christina (Nielsen) was gonna get in. Riduclous. Gotta be real careful. No excuses. We worked for a year for this.”

With the TRG-AMR car now damaged, it brought out the sixth full-course caution of the race.

Meanwhile the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford has been in-and-out of the garage to make a splitter change. Tony Kanaan was running in second but lost a lap.

17-year-old Matt McMurry now leads overall in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.

9:00 p.m. ET – One of the Mazdas is out. The No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D is officially out with what the team termed, comprehensive oil pump failure. Meanwhile the Magnus Porsche is back out after a quick gearbox change. Yes, it cost the team 27 laps, but as a full-season entrant it’s all about getting points.

Class leaders as the race nears the 7-hour mark include Joey Hand (P), Mark Wilkins (PC), Olivier Beretta (GTLM) and Ben Keating (GTD). Multiple cars in all classes – roughly two to nine cars per class – remain on the lead lap.

7:55 p.m. ET – Trouble has hit two engaging cars. Gearbox issues have sidelined the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America, then driven by Andy Lally, and apparent oil pressure issues have sent the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd, then driven by Alex Brundle, to the garage.

The Krohn car stands out for its “Krohn Green” livery and Magnus, which also has a shade of green along with gray and white on its car, has a 24-hour webcast it’s streaming during the race. These are two instances where it was not easy being green.

7:15 p.m. ET – Sage Karam is ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Karam took the lead on the strength of a bonkers, three-wide outside pass around the outside of Taylor’s No. 10 and CGR teammate Jamie McMurray in the sister No. 02, while also in GT Le Mans traffic.

“It’s one of the craziest things of my career I’d say,” Karam said in the Daytona press room. “Jamie was in front of me. We got checked up, I went on the outside, took it, and it got kinda sketchy there. But I made it through in turn 1. We put in consistent laps from there.”

Karam led most of his stint until turning back to Joey Hand. Karam said he wanted “a massage and food” … and also wants to seal up a long-awaited full-season Verizon IndyCar Series deal.

“I’m pretty wound up. I’m fighting to get a full-season drive… hopefully in a Ganassi IndyCar,” Karam said. “So I’m driving pretty hard out there. And now I want a massage and to eat. And then sleep… I’m probably back in around 2 a.m.”

5:25 p.m. ET – The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04b is also retired, with the team determining the cause of retirement.

Meanwhile we had a near disaster when Long Beach Grand Prix head and annual Daytona participant Jim Michaelian spun the No. 19 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America at the first hairpin, and then attempted to rejoin by slowly going across the road and forcing Sebastiaan Bleekemolen onto the grass. Bleekemolen did well to avoid him but was a near Gaston Kearby-at-Sebring last year-esque type of maneuver.

Jordan Taylor, now in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP after taking over from brother Ricky led overall during the third full course caution – caused, incidentally – by Michaelian stopping again between oval turns 1 and 2. The field has now gone back to green.

4:45 p.m. ET – First confirmed retirement for 2015 is the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13, unfortunate given the car’s early pace. Gearbox – a new one for this race – is the culprit. Only Andy Meyrick had the chance to drive, with co-drivers Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves and Memo Rojas unable to have a shot.

4:30 p.m. ET – Two hours are in the books. And a monumental achievement has just been achieved, as Tom Long at one point took the overall lead in the No. 07 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D diesel prototype, for the developmental car.

The No. 0 DeltaWing and No. 98 Aston Martin are in trouble, and the No. 25 BMW got a left rear puncture that led to an irate Bill Auberlen – who went off on Porsche’s Nick Tandy on IMSA Radio.

Auberlen called Tandy an “idiot” live on air, and Tandy replied that this was another of the pair’s history of disagreements.

Did we mention we’re just two hours into this thing? For a bit of normality, Scott Dixon still leads for Ganassi, before NASCAR star Jamie McMurray takes over next.

3:35 p.m. ET – Full-course yellow number two has flown for a myriad of incidents. Damien Faulkner had a strange incident in the run into turn 1 in the No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America with his left rear bumper damaged. Andy Meyrick and Tom Kimber-Smith have both stopped on track at Turn 5, with Meyrick in the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 coupe and “TKS” in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09. Meanwhile the No. 31 Corvette DP and No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 have gone to the garage.

Class leaders are Scott Dixon (P and overall), Johnny Mowlem (PC), Oliver Gavin (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (GTD).

3:20 p.m. ET – Hello from Daytona Beach, where the first hour of the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona is in the books. The race is just back green following the first full-course caution for the stopped Audi R8 LMS of Satoshi Hoshino, driving the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports entry.

Three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon dominated the opening hour in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford, after taking the lead from polesitter Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.

Other class leaders at the one-hour mark included Johnny Mowlem (PC), Oliver Gavin (GTLM) and Daniel Serra (GTD).

More to follow throughout the day on MotorSportsTalk.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.