Where NASCAR, IndyCar stars will start the 24 Hours at Daytona

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

It’s really wet down in Florida, but the constant downpour couldn’t keep qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona from taking place Thursday afternoon.

The field of four classes and 54 cars has been set for the endurance race that will begin on Jan. 30. Included in the race’s field are multiple drivers from the worlds of NASCAR and IndyCar.

The majority of those drivers will be in the Prototype class.

But the best qualifier was the car driven by Russian Mikhail Aleshin. Aleshin qualified on the pole for the Prototype class in the No. 37 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan.

But because of the rain and Rule 40.1.4 in the 2016 IMSA rulebook, the field will start in order of class, meaning Aleshin will have the overall pole.

The car will also be driven by Nicolas Minassian, Maurizio Mediani and Kirill Ladygin.

The No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, that IndyCar’s Simon Pagenaud will drive along with Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Jonny Adam, qualified sixth in class.

The Chip Ganassi-owned No. 02 Riley-Ford, which will be driven by IndyCar’s Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, qualified seventh in class with Dixon behind the wheel.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay will be one of the pilots for the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP, which starts eighth in class.

Three IndyCar veterans will be in the GT Le Mans class.

Graham Rahal will drive in the Le Mans GT class. The No. 100 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE starts third.

Sebastien Bourdais will be in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, which rolls off ninth in class.

Ryan Briscoe, a driver for the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, will start 10th in class.

Here are how the rest of the IndyCar and NASCAR participants will start the 24 Hours at Daytona

  • Jack Hawksworth in P5 (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09, Prototype Challenge)
  • Spencer Pigot in P12 (No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype, Prototype)
  • AJ Allmendinger in P3 (No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, Prototype)
  • Townsend Bell in P9 (No. 11 O’Gara Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, GT Daytona)

Here are the full qualifying results for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

After New York whirlwind, Josef Newgarden makes special trip to simulator before Detroit


DETROIT – There’s no rest for the weary as an Indy 500 winner, but Josef Newgarden discovered there are plenty of extra laps.

The reigning Indy 500 champion added an extra trip Wednesday night back to Concord, N.C., for one last session on the GM Racing simulator before Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

After a 30-year run on the Belle Isle course, the race has been moved to a nine-turn, 1.7-mile layout downtown, so two extra hours on the simulator were worth it for Newgarden.

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“I really wanted to do it,” he told NBC Sports at a Thursday media luncheon. “If there’s any time that the sim is most useful, it’s in this situation when no one has ever been on a track, and we’re able to simulate it as best as we can. We want to get some seat time.

“It’s extra important coming off the Indy 500 because you’ve been out of rhythm for a road or street course-type environment, so I really wanted some laps. I was really appreciative to Chevy. There was a few guys that just came in and stayed late for me so I could get those laps before coming up here. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference, but I feel like it’s going to help for me.”

After a whirlwind tour of New York for two days, Newgarden arrived at the simulator (which is at the GM Racing Technical Center adjacent to Hendrick Motorsports) in time for a two hour session that started at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He stayed overnight in Charlotte and then was up for an early commercial flight to Detroit, where he had more media obligations.

Newgarden joked that if he had a jet, he would have made a quick stop in Nashville, Tennessee, but a few more days away from home (where he has yet to return in weeks) is a worthy tradeoff for winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – though the nonstop interviews can take a toll.

“It’s the hardest part of the gig for me is all this fanfare and celebration,” Newgarden said. “I love doing it because I’m so passionate about the Indy 500 and that racetrack and what that race represents. I feel honored to be able to speak about it. It’s been really natural and easy for me to enjoy it because I’ve been there for so many years.

“Speaking about this win has been almost the easiest job I’ve ever had for postrace celebrations. But it’s still for me a lot of work. I get worn out pretty easily. I’m very introverted. So to do this for three days straight, it’s been a lot.”

Though he is terrified of heights, touring the top of the Empire State Building for the first time was a major highlight (and produced the tour’s most viral moment).

“I was scared to get to the very top level,” Newgarden said. “That thing was swaying. No one else thought it was swaying. I’m pretty sure it was. I really impressed by the facility. I’d never seen it before. It’s one of those bucket list things. If you go to New York, it’s really special to do that. So to be there with the wreath and the whole setup, it just felt like an honor to be in that moment.”

Now the attention shifts to Detroit and an inaugural circuit that’s expected to be challenging. Along with a Jefferson Avenue straightaway that’s 0.9 miles long, the track has several low-speed corners and a “split” pit lane (teams will stop on both sides of a rectangular area) with a narrow exit that blends just before a 90-degree lefthand turn into Turn 1.

Newgarden thinks the track is most similar to the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

“It’s really hard to predict with this stuff until we actually run,” he said. “Maybe we go super smooth and have no issues. Typically when you have a new event, you’re going to have some teething issues. That’s understandable. We’ve always got to massage the event to get it where we want it, but this team has worked pretty hard. They’ve tried to get feedback constantly on what are we doing right, what do we need to look out for. They’ve done a ton of grinding to make sure this surface is in as good of shape as possible.

“There’s been no expense spared, but you can’t foresee everything. I have no idea how it’s going to race. I think typically when you look at a circuit that seems simple on paper, people tend to think it’s not going to be an exciting race, or challenging. I find the opposite always happens when we think that way. Watch it be the most exciting, chaotic, entertaining race.

Newgarden won the last two pole positions at Belle Isle’s 2.35-mile layout and hopes to continue the momentum while avoiding any post-Brickyard letdown.

“I love this is an opportunity for us to get something right quicker than anyone else,” he said. “A new track is always exciting from that standpoint. I feel I’m in a different spot. I’m pretty run down. I’m really trying to refocus and gain some energy back for tomorrow. Which I’ll have time to today, which is great.

“I don’t want that Indy 500 hangover. People always talk about it. They’ve always observed it. That doesn’t mean we have to win this weekend, but I’d like to leave here feeling like we had a really complete event, did a good job and had a solid finish leading into the summer. I want to win everywhere I go, but if we come out of here with a solid result and no mistakes, then probably everyone will be happy with it.”