Rossi charges back up to P3 after early penalty at ISM Raceway

0 Comments

It didn’t net him a victory, but Alexander Rossi’s drive in the Desert Diamond West Casino Phoenix Grand Prix was likely the drive of the night.

After starting fourth, Rossi quickly moved into third and stayed there through the opening stint, behind Simon Pagenaud and race leader Sebastien Bourdais.

However, Rossi’s night took a dramatic turn in the opening round of pit stops after a Lap 41 caution for Pietro Fittipaldi, who stopped in Turn 1 after brushing the wall. During the stops, both Rossi and Bourdais slid into their pit stalls and each clipped a member of their respective pit crews.

Both drivers were assessed drive-through penalties and fell off the lead lap and outside the Top 20.

Yet, while Bourdais struggled the rest of the night and finished one lap down in 13th, Rossi put on maybe the best drive of his career.

Without the aid of a caution, Rossi carved his way through the field to unlap himself, and cracked the top 10 after the last round of green flag pit stops.

He then made quick work of people like Takuma Sato, Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan, and Ryan Hunter-Reay to climb up to sixth in the closing stages, and had even worked his way up to the lead group before the final caution – for a crashed Ed Jones on Lap 230.

Andretti Autosport elected to keep Rossi out rather than pit for fresh tires, which put him in third on the final restart with seven laps to go.

Though he lost a spot to Josef Newgarden, Rossi gained that position back after passing James Hinchcliffe, and ultimately ended a roller coaster night in third, mirroring his result from the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg last month.

Rossi’s charge back through the field featured a number of aggressive moves, and he totaled 53 passes for position on the night. As he explained afterward, the aggression was necessary to make up for his early mistake.

“We had to. We were two laps down. No yellow coming to save us. We had to unlap ourselves and try to do something,” he asserted in the post-race press conference.

Rossi also gave an enormous amount of credit to his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda team, revealing that his performance came down to the car’s strong pace.

“I mean, I don’t care how frustrated or how much you want to pass cars, if you don’t have the car to do it, then you’re not going to do it,” he detailed. “The only reason I was able to do that was because the team gave me an unbelievable car.

“We spent so much of our time and brain effort and research in the time between the open test and here on focusing on tire life. Hopefully it’s something that we can keep an advantage on people going forward for the next short ovals.”

Rossi’s back-to-back third-place finishes have him second in the championship after two races, five points behind ISM Raceway winner Josef Newgarden.

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.