Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 2 hours — 22 hours remain

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UPCOMING UPDATES: After Hour 6 (8:30 p.m. ET) and Hour 9 (11:30 p.m. ET).

The Rolex 24 at Daytona is just over two hours in, and while it has run caution-free, there has been no shortage of action across the Prototype, GT Le Mans, and GT Daytona classes.

Below is a quick, early-race report on all three classes in the early hours of running.

Prototype

Filipe Albuquerque leads in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R for Action Express Mustang Sampling Racing. He seized the lead from polesitter Renger Van Der Zande, in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi for Wayne Taylor Racing, following the opening round of pit stops.

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac sits second with Matt McMurry behind the wheel, and even led briefly in the early laps with Tristan Vautier.

The biggest early movers in Prototype come from the two Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi entries. The No. 22 machine, in the hands of Pipo Derani at the time of writing, sits third after starting 18th, while the No. 2, with Olivier Pla at the helm at the time of writing, runs seventh after starting 20th, even overcoming an unscheduled pit stop for a cut tire.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso has had a trouble-free run so far in the United Autosports No. 23 Ligier JS P217 Gibson, briefly taking the lead during an exchange of pit stops, and currently sits ninth with Phil Hanson now driving.

A couple of cars have run into problems, namely the two Mazda Team Joest RT24-P entries. The No. 55, with Jonathan Bomarito driving at the time, saw the left-front wheel come off after a pit stop, while the No. 77 entry, with Oliver Jarvis at the wheel, went back into the garage with a mechanical problem. They run 18th (No. 55) and 19th (No. 70, four laps and six laps off the lead respectively.

Also, both Acura Team Penske ARX-05s have had strong opening stanzas, with the No. 6 running fifth in the hands of Juan Pablo Montoya and and the No. 7 running in the top five in the early laps. However, the No. 7 did suffer a slight hiccup when the door latch wouldn’t fasten after a pitstop, forcing an extra stop for repairs and dropping the team, with Ricky Taylor at the wheel, one lap off the lead.

GT Le Mans

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing swept into the early lead, with Joey Hand seizing control in the No. 66 Ford GT, passing polesitter Jan Magnussen’s No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R on the opening lap. The Fords even ran 1-2 early on, with Richard Westbrook moving into second and following teammate Hand for the opening stint.

Hand continues to lead, while Antonio Garcia runs second in the No. 3 Corvette. Nicky Tandy sits third in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for Porsche GT Team.

GT Daytona

Audi currently leads the way. The No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 leads, in the hands of Jeffrey Schmidt. The two Lexus RC F GT3 entries from 3GT Racing run second (Dominik Farnbacher, No. 15) and third (Kyle Marcelli, No. 14).

A couple of GTD teams have encountered trouble. Most notably, the Wright Motorsports No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R crashed during the pace laps before the green flag came out. The car, with Robert Renauer at the helm, suffered significant damage to the nose and immediately went to the garage for repairs and has not been on track since.

Also, the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, which battled for the lead early on, suffered a fire on pit road.

Live timing and scoring from IMSA can be for here.

Hour 2 Standings

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James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.