Action Express Cadillacs pace first two Roar practice sessions for Rolex 24 Hours

AUTO: JAN 26 IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona
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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Mike Conway turned the fastest lap in the Friday afternoon session of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona test as Action Express Racing Cadillacs led the way at Daytona International Speedway.

Conway’s lap of 1 minute, 36.225 seconds in the No. 31 nipped the 1:36.231 lap turned by Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 60 Acura of Meyer Shank Racing.

Six-time and defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was third fastest (1:36.502) with the No. 01 Cadillac of Chip Ganassi Racing in the afternoon session, and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi (1:36.662 in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing) and Loic Duval (1:36.788 in the No. 5 Cadillac of Mustang Sampling JDC Miller) rounded out the top five.

SPEED CHARTSClick here for Session II results l Click here for fastest lap by class and driver l Click here for fastest by class

Conway turned 12 laps in the session, and teammate Chase Elliott, who is making his Rolex 24 debut, also made 10 circuits. The Cup Series champion’s final lap was his fastest, ranking him 16th on the road course where he won last August in NASCAR’s premier series.

Elliott, who turned the most laps (17) in the first session, was about a second behind the pace of seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who made 12 laps in the session.

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s like trying to drink water through a fire hose right now, just trying to learn,” Elliott said in a team release. “It’s obviously a high-performance vehicle – especially through the braking zones and through those sections of the track where they like speed. The faster you go through some of these sections the better it drives.

“I’m trying to get that through my head a little bit. I felt like every lap I was getting better, pushing my limits and trying to figure out how fast I could get through those fast sections. It’s a lot of fun for sure. I’ll keep working at it and go from there.”

Said Johnson in a release: “This is a ton of fun. It’s an awesome race car. We have an amazing teaming and amazing driver lineup. The camaraderie amongst the team, the professionalism, and the focus on winning is the great combination of all those things. So, I’m really excited and enjoying myself.

“We were in a different car when we tested so I’m getting used to this specific car. Of course, we’ve made some changes since the last time we were here and there’s a lot more traffic on the track. So, we’re trying to understand where the track is going and what the set up needs to be was the bulk of [what we did] today.”

Here were the fastest drivers in other classes for Session 2:

LMP2: Giedo van der Garde, Racing Team Nederland

LMP3: Moritz Kranz, Muehlner Motorsports America

GTLM: Tommy Milner, Corvette Racing

GTD: Marcos Gomes, Scuderia Corsa

Action Express Racing’s No. 48 Cadillac of Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller paced the earlier session Friday.

Saturday’s schedule will feature another morning practice and then qualifying for Sunday’s Motul 100, the first time a qualifying race has been used to set the starting grid of the Rolex 24.

The IMSA season opener will be held Jan. 30-31 at Daytona with coverage on NBC and NBCSN.