IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 20 hours — less than 4 hours remain

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Over 20 hours are in the books for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. But, while there are less than four hours remaining, there is still plenty of racing left to run, and with more frontrunners encountering problems, the race is far from over.

The class leaders at the Hour 20 mark are below.

Prototype

No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, Joao Barbosa

No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi, Felipe Nasr

No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca 07 Gibson, Romain Dumas

GTLM

No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Sebastien Bourdais

No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Scott Dixon

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

GTD

No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Franck Perera

No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, AJ Allmendinger

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

Action Express Continues to Lead, But Problems Start to Surface

The two Action Express Racing cars still run 1-2 overall, but both have experienced cooling issues as the race heads to its closing stages.

The race-leading No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi took advantage of a full-course caution to make a quick dive into the garage area to check engine temperatures and add water. While the trip took many by surprise, it appeared to only be a minor check to add water and the car quickly rejoined, maintaining its lead. Joao Barbosa is currently at the helm.

However, the sister No. 31 Cadillac, which at one time was within half-a-second and pushing for the lead, was forced to spend a little extra time in the garage fighting the same issue, and actually lost three laps in the process. Still, the No. 31, now in the hands of Felipe Nasr, runs second.

Behind them, a new challenger has emerged in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca, which moved into third after the No. 32 United Autosports entry encountered problems. Though four laps off the lead, the No. 54 machine, currently with Romain Dumas at the controls, could capitalize if the aforementioned issues for Action Express surface again.

Fords Continue to Dominate GTLM

The two Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing remain dominant in GTLM, but are running nose-to-tail and poised to stage an intra-team battle for the GTLM win. Currently, the No. 66 leads, in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, with Scott Dixon running second in the No. 67.

However, Corvette Racing is still in contention, the No. 3 C7.R running third and still on the same lap as the Fords. Mike Rockenfeller is currently at the wheel.

Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes Doing Battle for GTD Lead

The close GT Daytona battle sees Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes emerging as the frontrunning marques, with the top four in class all on the same lap.

The No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from GRT Grasser Racing Team has moved into the lead with Franck Perera.

However, the Michael Shank No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian is running a strong second, overcoming a brief off-course excursion after driver Katherine Legge was bumped off track by the No. 38 Performance Tech Racing Oreca as they approached the International Horseshoe.

Legge quickly regrouped and did not lose much time. AJ Allmendinger is now at the helm.

The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini sits third, with Andrea Caldarelli at the wheel.

The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports runs fourth, having recently spent time in the top three as well, with Luca Stolz now in control.

Below is a report on other notable happenings.

Wayne Taylor Racing Out After Several Tire Failures

A number of Prototype entries have experienced tire problems in the first 20 hours of running, but Wayne Taylor Racing has probably been hit the hardest. Suffering no fewer than seven punctures, they had their latest one late in Hour 17, forcing Renger Van Der Zande to once again bring the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R back to the garage.

Team owner Wayne Taylor subsequently retired the car, citing the aforementioned tire problems and an inability to determine a solution to prevent them.

United Autosports Hits More Problems

United Autosports’ No. 32 Ligier had been running a strong third, behind the top two Cadillacs from Action Express, but a clutch problem forced an unscheduled pit stop for repairs.

They were able to rejoin relatively quickly, but dropped to fifth, seven laps off the lead. Paul Di Resta is now behind the wheel.

Live timing can be found here.

Hour 20 Standings

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Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”