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Scott Dixon leads IndyCar drivers in Rolex 24

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The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is a race that attracts drivers from across the world of motorsports, and this year’s running of the sports car classic was no exception.

In addition to the presence of reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, several stars from the NTT IndyCar Series competed in the 2020 race.

Among the IndyCar regulars competing this year was five-time champion Scott Dixon, who was part of the No. 10 overall winner from Wayne Taylor Racing.

Joining Dixon in victory lane Sunday afternoon were co-drivers Ryan Briscoe (who competed in IndyCar from 2005-15), Kamui Kobayashi and Regner van der Zande. Dixon previously won the overall in 2006 and 2015; he also took the GLTM class in 2018.

But this was the first time since 2004 that Dixon wasn’t driving in the Rolex for his IndyCar team, Chip Ganassi Racing.

“These situations are just so hard to come by,” Dixon told NBC Sports in victory lane. “I think with Ganassi not being here for the first time in a long time, and having the opportunity to come with such a strong team, the defending champions as well, feels so good for me. I’ll just enjoy it, man. That’s all I can do.

“Hopefully I can come back next year and have another go at it. I just love racing so much, and [I’m] thankful to be part of great teams like this, and part of this whole history.”

Finishing two positions behind Dixon in third was four-time IndyCar champion Sebastien Bourdais, who was competing in his first race at JDC Motorsports/Mustang Sampling Racing.

Though Bourdais will drive for the team full time in IMSA this year after parting ways with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, the Frenchman has said he still intends to run a few IndyCar races this season.

Behind Bourdais in fourth pwas the No. 6 Acura Team Penske entry that included Indy 500 winners Simon Pagenaud and Juan Pablo Montoya. Fellow Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished sixth overall with Mazda Team Joest.

Among the race’s disappointing finishes was the No. 7 Acura of Team Penske, which was shared between Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi with sports car regular Ricky Taylor. 

The trio’s hopes were eliminated just four hours into the race when Harry Tincknell spun Castroneves into a tire barrier in the Bus Stop chicane, sending Castroneves to the garage for repairs.

“It’s not even four hours into the race, I was taking my time, dealing with traffic, and then the guy just decided to dive into [me] in a place that’s probably 120 mph, for a risk that’s not going to pay off,”  a frustrated Castroneves told NBC Sports while his crew repaired the car. “We had a great car. It’s just … 24 hours! Ugh!

“I’m sorry that I expressed my feelings right now, but it’s just ridiculous. Especially when we tell the guy, look, we’re communicating and taking it easy. I’ll let you by, no problem. So many hours to go. It’s just frustrating.”

While most IndyCar drivers competing in the race ran in DPi, a few others raced in other classes.

IndyCar part-timer Ben Hanley was one of the drivers in DragonSpeed’s LMP2 winner, and Colton Herta finished fifth (17th overall) in BMW RLL’s No. 25 car (after winning the GTLM class with the team last year).

Next month, many of the IndyCar drivers who competed at Daytona will return to their day jobs, as the series will conduct a two-day open test session on Feb. 11-12 at Circuit of Americas near Austin, Texas.

The season opener of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will take place March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, with coverage starting at 3:30 pm ET on NBCSN.

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Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter