Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 17 hours — less than 7 hours remain

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The Rolex 24 at Daytona is 17 hours in, with seven hours remaining, and the overnight hours saw a major shift in fortunes for some heavy hitters.

Currently, Christian Fittipaldi leads overall in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, with teammate Mike Conway running second in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac, making it an Action Express Racing 1-2 as the race enters its final seven hours.

The class leaders for Prototype, GTLM and GTD are below.

Prototype

No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, Christian Fittipaldi

No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi, Mike Conway

No. 32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, Hugo de Sadeleer

GTLM

No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Richard Westbrook

No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Joey Hand

No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, Antonio Garcia

GTD

No. 48 Paul Miller Racing, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Andrea Caldarelli

No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, Katherine Legge

No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, Adam Christodoulou

 

Below is a report on notable happenings from the overnight hours.

Troubles for Acura Team Penske

Both of the Acura Team Penske ARX-o5s have hit major problems after running in the top five. The No. 6 machine was the first Penske entry to be bitten as Dane Cameron brought the car back to the garage with an alternator problem.

The car did return to the race, but sits 24 laps down to the race leader.

The sister No. 7 entry, with Helio Castroneves behind the wheel, was running a strong second, the only other car on the same lap as the leader, but contact with the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac did significant damage to the car, forcing Castroneves to take it behind the wall.

Both cars currently running outside the top ten in the Prototype class, 11th for No. 7 (13th overall) and 12th for No. 6 (15th overall) and are down 23 laps and 24 laps to the leader.

Alonso, United Autosports Suffer Brake Problems

While the No. 32 Ligier from United Autosports sits a strong third, the sister No. 23 Ligier encountered major brake problems overnight. Fernando Alonso was forced to bring the car in for an unscheduled pit stop after initially reporting the issue, with the team eventually going behind the wall for repairs.

The car, with Alonso back behind the wheel, sits 26 laps off the lead in 13th (17th overall).

Tequila Patron ESM, Spirit of Daytona Both Out

A couple of strong dark horses in Prototype suffered major mechanical problems overnight that forced them to retire from the race.

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac, which led early and was running strongly among the frontrunners, suffered an engine problem that forced them to the garage. A short time later, the team announced they would be unable to continue, citing a misfire.

Similarly, both of the Tequila Patron ESM entries were running strong, marching their way forward after both cars started at the back of the Prototype class. But, both cars suffered terminal mechanical problems, a gearbox failure on the No. 2 and an engine problem on the No. 22, and both retired in the early morning hours.

Fords Dominating GTLM

The Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing have dominated the GTLM running so far, leading much of the way since the race began. Both cars sit 1-2 at the time of writing, with the No. 67 of Richard Westbrook now leading the No. 66 of Joey Hand. However, Corvette Racing continues to lurk behind them, with Antonio Garcia sitting third in the No. 3 C7.R.

GTD Still Close As the Final Seven Hours Begin

The GT Daytona class is still a wide-open contest with the top six cars all running on the same lap as the final seven hours begin.

The GTD leader is now Andrea Caldarelli in the No. 48 Lamborghini for Paul Miller Racing.

Running second is Katherine Legge in the No. 86 Acura NSX for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian. Adam Christodoulou runs third in the No. 33 Mercedes for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports.

Of note, the No. 29 Monteplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 had been the dominant car in GTD through the first half of the race, but a “nuclear penalty” for a balance of performance violation saw them serve a five-minute penalty that dropped them from the lead. They currently sit eighth in GTD.

Live timing can be found here.

Hour 16 standings

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.