IndyCar: Bourdais fastest in first of two Friday practices at Detroit

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Sebastien Bourdais was fastest in the first of Friday’s two practice sessions for this weekend’s 2-race Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Island in the Motor City.

Bourdais covered the track with a blistering elapsed time of 1 minute, 17.8545 seconds.

Scott Dixon was second at 1:17.9168.

“It’s a lot of fun, definitely a busy track and the walls definitely keep you confined,” Dixon told the IMS Radio Network. “It’s one of the most physically demanding courses, and to double up, by the end of the second race, you definitely feel it.”

Graham Rahal, who won both races at Detroit last year, was third-quickest with a best lap of 1:18.0191.

“The car’s really good,” Rahal told the IMSRN. “We’ve got the quickest car, we just didn’t get the (top) lap there, I think we could get a mid-7. We just have to put it together. … I hope this afternoon (in the second practice), we’ll be able to build on it a little bit.”

Fourth through 10th were Alexander Rossi (1:18.1504), Marco Andretti (1:18.3009), Santino Ferrucci (1:18.3117), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:18.3366), Zach Veach (1:18.3529), Josef Newgarden (1:18.3997) and Tony Kanaan (1:18.4611).

There were several incidents in the session.

Charlie Kimball got loose early, James Hinchcliffe almost lost control coming out of Turn 7, Matheus Leist skimmed the wall in Turn 4, and Scott Dixon skimmed the wall in Turn 11.

Then with just under eight minutes to go in the session, rookie Rene Binder ran into the tire wall in Turn 11, bringing out a red flag practice stoppage. Crews pulled Binder’s car out of the tire wall, he was able to get restarted and slowly worked his way to pit road.

With just over a minute remaining in the session, rookie Robert Wickens went into the run-off area in Turn 7 and could not get restarted.

There was also one other unusual element added to the track: a squirrel kept coming onto the track around the Turn 7 area. Cars avoided contact with the squirrel … or should we say the squirrel avoided contact with the cars.

Today’s second practice session is set for 3:10 p.m. ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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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.