Rolex recap: Dixon, Kanaan see winning hopes hit the brakes

(Getty Images)

It was a rough weekend for defending Verizon IndyCar Series champ Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Both drivers took turns driving the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing/Riley Daytona Prototype No. 02, with hopes of defending last year’s victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Every time they thought their team may catch a few breaks, it was the other kind of brakes that proved to be a constant thorn in their victory hopes.

While things started strong, the team faded in the waning hours of the 24-hour event, ultimately ending up a collective 13th place overall (seventh in-class) with Dixon anchoring the final stretch run.

“As far as Daytona Prototypes, we were the quickest, both the (No.) 02 and the 01,” Dixon said. “I feel bad for Chip. All four cars had sort of gremlins.

“We lost the rears (brakes), then we lost the fronts, which initially put us down 10 laps. We got six laps back during the night and then on my (next-to-) last stint, we lost the fronts. (It was) a bit annoying and then obviously Kyle (Larson) lost the rears and ended up taking the front of the car off (slid into a tire wall), through no fault of his own. A car with no brakes is not good around here, especially with a lot of these hairpins.”

Having repeated brake issues not only affected the performance of the car, it also works on a driver’s mentality behind the wheel, Dixon added.

“Unfortunately with the 02, we kept losing brakes, which is not real good for confidence,” Dixon said. “… You’re just trying to feel it out. The last thing you want to do is go into a corner at 190 miles an hour and not have any brakes. I think that happened to all of the drivers in the 02 except for Jamie (McMurray). I’m just glad everybody got away safe.”

As for Kanaan, he also tried to look at the good points of the marathon, even though the overall finish was disappointing nonetheless.

“It’s a shame that (we) we’re that many laps down,” Kanaan said. “We (had) the leaders’ pace but that’s what happens. It’s 24 hours and you have to have a flawless race to be able to win. We had that last year, but this year we had a little bit of a hiccup.

“It’s a shame but good to be back in Daytona. It’s a shame we couldn’t defend the title, but I told Chip (Ganassi) we’ve got to come back again.”

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III