Ferrari looks for another Daytona win, 50 years after 1-2-3 finish

Photo courtesy of Ferrari
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ferrari has three cars entered for today’s 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the possibility two of them could live up to Ferrari’s 1967 1-2-3 overall sweep at the race, 50 years later.

Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon shared a Ferrari 330 P3/4 Spyder to win that race that day, finishing ahead of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes in a Ferrari 330 P4 Coupé by three laps (666 laps completed to 663).

A Ferrari 412 P finished third to complete the trifecta. Photos of that are below, courtesy of Ferrari.

670150-1280x1036 670310-1280x829 1967-finish

Ferrari can’t get a 1-2-3 on this occasion because the three cars are split between one in the GT Le Mans class, and two in the GT Daytona class. But the odds are good one of them could break through.

No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Risi Competizione enters this year’s race after having had a year now with its new Ferrari 488 GTE and off the heels of winning the 2016 season finale, Petit Le Mans. The trio of drivers, Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and James Calado, are back and will roll off from fourth in the GTLM class.

“There’s so much emotion and effort that goes to a 24-hour race, that at the moment, I don’t have space in my mind for the numbers,” Vilander told NBC Sports. “Yes we had a strong run at Le Mans, but it was a bit up and down. IMSA we were struggling but had a huge effort to have the Risi car at Le Mans.

“Here, we feel quite well prepared. Pace-wise we’re quite confident and the car is running well. There’s been quite a lot of wind. It keeps changing a lot, and keep chasing quite a lot, so overall the decisions are done based on the experience of test days. We’re pretty confident.”

Meanwhile in GT Daytona, the No. 51 Spirit of Race and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3s line up first and second. Alessandro Pier Guidi, a past Rolex 24 winner, secured the class pole. Meanwhile Giacomo Mattioli’s Scuderia Corsa team is in search of its first Rolex 24 win, to add that mark to its past championships in class.

The previous generation Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 won Ferrari’s most recent Rolex 24 victory in 2014, coming with Level 5 Motorsports’ lineup of Pier Guidi, Scott Tucker, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal.

Pier Guidi shares his car with Davide Rigon, Maurizio Mediani, Peter Mann and Rino Mastronardi. Scuderia Corsa fields a stronger lineup of Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen, Matteo Cressoni and Sam Bird, the latter making his first ever start in a GT3 car.

No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It’s been great. I’m with a super team in Scuderia Corsa, who’ve been really good to me. I’m delighted to be a part of their lineup. It’s been a competitive car. I’m very much enjoying the experience,” Bird told NBC Sports. The talented Englishman races full-time in both the FIA World Endurance Championship in an AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and in the FIA Formula E Championship.

The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.