An intense, barnburner 2016 Rolex 24 is set to occur

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been a semi-weird week ahead of the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona, with rain making Thursday an irrelevant day of running and then one final intense practice session on Friday setting the stage for what figures to be a barnburner of a race.

Here’s the provisional grid for today’s race.

There’s a number of story lines to hit, so here’s what to look for:

  • The P2, DP and the DeltaWing interaction: We know the P2s and DeltaWing have the pace. They’re faster, they’re lighter… and they’re also more fragile. The compelling story line here is that the variety of potential spoilers, be it the polesitting SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan, the DeltaWing, the pair of Ligier JS P2 Hondas from Michael Shank Racing and Tequila Patron ESM and the two Mazdas, have their best shot yet to upset the apple cart. Key to their success will be long green flag runs. With too many yellows, it will box the field up and negate any outright pace advantage. And you can bank on about 10 to 12 yellows – if it gets to be more than that, the P2 advantage may slip away.
  • Pruett’s quest for six: Scott Pruett, with a win, would win the Rolex 24 for the sixth time overall. It would break a tie with Hurley Haywood, at five, for the most overall. He’s got a great chance to win in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, which he’ll share with Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque.
  • Wide-open GTLM, which is glorious: There’s no favorite in GT Le Mans, which is awesome. Corvette won last year and Porsche the year before that, and in 2016 their cars are more evolutions than revolutions. BMW and Ferrari meanwhile debut new turbocharged cars, the M6 GTLM and 488 GTE respectively, and have looked impressive on pace all week. The wild card, though, and the star attraction heading into the race is the new Ford GT, entered by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with a key partnership with Multimatic.
  • And wide-open GTD too for good measure: Seven manufacturers have produced 22 FIA GT3-spec cars, most new with a handful of slightly older cars, to produce the other “big show” heading into the race in GT Daytona. It’s hard to rule out too many of the efforts, although Lamborghini, Porsche and Audi – the three VW brands – have had a minuscule edge over Ferrari, Dodge, BMW and Aston Martin. The Park Place Motorsports Porsche, qualified by Norbert Siedler, starts on pole in arguably the deepest class this year.
  • PC likely a battle of survival: With only eight cars, all spec cars and a higher volume of gentlemen drivers, Prototype Challenge is probably the least attractive of the four classes but it’s not something to be entirely overlooked. On paper, CORE autosport and Starworks Motorsport must be considered the favorites, with any of the other five entries in the mix for podiums provided they run the distance.

Notable Quotes

Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH Racing; No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, GT Le Mans class, making its debut): “It’s the grand opening for the Ford GT, the whole brand new program starting with the 24-hour race. It’s a pretty big challenge but looking forward to it. We’ve got a great team with Chip Ganassi Racing to try and make it work and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing; No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford, Prototype class): “The balance and performance is still quite a ways off, maybe a little broader now – I think 2, 2.5 seconds to the quick P2s and some of the other cars. We’re going to have our work cut out and have to hope for a little bit of attrition on the P2 side, which in the past has helped. But in the past we’ve also been a lot closer on straight-up pace.”

Andy Meyrick (Panoz DeltaWing Racing; No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13, Prototype class): “I know this place well and I know the car, so it didn’t take much time to get up to speed. The car was quick right out of the box. Everyone was struggling with cold temperatures whereas we were pretty strong. We’ve got a good setup from the Roar and I don’t think we should change it. We’re starting a ways back but it was the right decision to skip qualifying so now we just need to not make mistakes in the first hour or two and move forward.”

Rick Mayer (Risi Competizione race engineer, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE, GT Le Mans class): “All of our running so far has been in the wet. Toni and Fisichella, the only two guys who have driven the car yet today, say that it was good in the wet for them. We’ll wait until tomorrow until we get in the dry. Qualifying was pretty treacherous because it started raining pretty hard once we went out. Then one of our sister cars had an accident, which caused a red flag, so we really only got two timed laps.”

Gary Nelson (Action Express Racing team manager, Nos. 5 and 31 Corvette DPs, Prototype class): “We came to Daytona International Speedway focused on winning the Rolex 24 and following qualifying, that goal is still attainable because our drivers took care of our Corvette DPs.”


Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103