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.

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”


Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”


Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).