Wayne Taylor Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona

Leave a comment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wayne Taylor Racing rebounded from a penalty Sunday to defend its Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona championship, winning the prestigious sports car event for the fourth time.

Kamui Kobayashi drove the No. 10 Cadillac for the race’s final three hours, winning by more than a minute over the No. 77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis (who had started from the pole position in the 58th running of the endurance racing classic) in a record-breaking finish.

The winning entry completed 833 laps, smashing the previous lap record of 808 set in 2018. There were six caution flags as the smallest field (38 cars) in the race’s 59-year history set a blistering pace (particularly during a seven-hour green-flag run for seven hours overnight).

Kobayashi was teamed in the race for the second consecutive year with Regner van der Zande, and they were joined this year by five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and new full-time driver Ryan Briscoe.

It was the third Rolex 24 win in the past four years for Wayne Taylor Racing, but it seemed in doubt when Briscoe committed a pit violation with five and a half hours remaining by missing a red light at the end of the pits during the race’s fourth caution. After serving a 60-second penalty, Briscoe fell from fourth to first, handing the lead to the No. 5 Cadillac.

But a fifth yellow put the car back on the lead lap, and Briscoe charged back to second on the 3.56-mile road course. He retook the lead during a pit stop, and Kobayashi drove it to victory lane.

The victory put team owner Wayne Taylor two short of Chip Ganassi’s record of six Rolex 24 overall wins. Taylor, who also won the race twice as a driver, was campaigning a car at Daytona without sons Jordan and Ricky for the first time in a decade.

“There are so many people — this team, the drivers — when they come into this little team of ours, they are so focused and so passionate about winning and fortunately we are really bad losers,” Taylor said. “I got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. I mean the guy is a superstar.

“I am so relieved, that’s the best way I can say it.”

In one of the race’s rare incidents, the No. 7 Acura of Team Penske was eliminated from contention when Harry Tincknell spun Helio Castroneves into a tire barrier in the Bus Stop section. Castroneves was steaming after the wreck, which occurred barely four hours into the race.

Through his AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing team struggled with a brake problem on its GTD entry, Kyle Busch was pleased by his Rolex 24 debut. The two-time NASCAR Cup champion finished the race in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. It was his fourth turn behind the wheel, which included a triple-stint Sunday morning.

“It’s all fun,” Busch said in an interview on the NASCAR on NBC Peacock Pit Box. “I try to relish in the moment, have some fun it with. Just go out there and enjoy. Obviously we’re not racing for a class victory. so that’s a shame. but for what we are doing, we got a job to do, and that’s to go out there and run hard, race hard. I’ve pretty much given it everything I’ve got about every lap I’ve been out there. I’ve been putting up some decent times compared to (veteran teammate) Jack Hawksworth.”

Here were the winners in the other divisions:

LMP2: No. 81 ORECA LMP2 of Dragon Speed USA

GTLM: No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

GTD: No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.