Kanaan leads Chevrolet top-seven sweep in incident-filled NOLA first practice

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AVONDALE, La. – Tony Kanaan has led the opening 90-minute practice session for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), in an incident-filled and a Chevrolet-routed session.

Kanaan posted a flier of 1:18.8753 in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, which edged St. Petersburg polesitter and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, at 1:18.9292. Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon, clocked in third at 1:18.9662 in the No. 9 Brita Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

What are usually the pair of red Ganassi cars are primarily blue this weekend, Dixon’s car shifting from its usual Target red for its first partner livery of the season. This unofficially marks the first race since 1989 there is not a Target-sponsored Ganassi car in the race.

Until the final minute, 12 of the top 13 runners were Chevrolets, including a top-10 sweep by Chevrolet. Dale Coyne Racing’s Carlos Huertas in 11th was the top Honda runner until the final laps.

However, late fliers from James Hinchcliffe and Gabby Chaves to end eighth and ninth interrupted the Chevrolet dominance. Hinchcliffe, in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda, was 0.6011 of a second off Kanaan’s best time in eighth overall.

Kanaan led Power, Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, with Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam the top seven in Chevrolets. Hinchcliffe, Chaves and St. Petersburg race winner Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top 10.

A total of six red flags flew in the session. Jack Hawksworth stopped on track at Turn 3 to cause the first, Francesco Dracone spun exiting Turn 5 to cause the second, a third brief red flag occurred shortly thereafter, Huertas spun exiting Turn 6 and Luca Filippi narrowly avoided him to cause red number four, Hinchcliffe spun exiting Turn 5 in No. 5 for the fifth, and a brief spin by Dixon exiting Turn 1 completed the half dozen.

Stefano Coletti also had a wild ride through the gravel exiting Turn 6 but survived without any further damage.

Second practice runs from 4:15 to 5:35 p.m., for an 80-minute session later this afternoon.

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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.