Felipe Nasr accuses Acura, Mazda of Rolex 24 sandbagging: ‘It’s a joke. Just do the damn lap.’

Nasr accusing Rolex sandbagging

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Action Express Racing drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani conquered and then called out the competition, accusing their Acura and Mazda competition of sandbagging ahead of the 59th Rolex 24 at Daytona.

After winning the Motul 100 qualifying race Sunday to take the pole position for the sports car endurance classic Jan. 30-31 at Daytona International Speedway, Nasr was simultaneously overjoyed about the No. 31 Cadillac’s victory and apoplectic about the circumstances.

“I think all the Cadillacs put in a great effort all week, yesterday in qualifying every Cadillac was within a 10th of each other, and the other manufacturers are just not doing their thing,” said Nasr, who started sixth Sunday and took the lead shortly before halfway. “Like come on, we have a brand new (qualifying) format for everyone to go out there and race. We’re going after points, we’re going after what we’re here for, to go and race and expect the best out of the maximum of the car.

‘STEEP LEARNING CURVE’: Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson make sports car transition

HOW TO WATCH THE ROLEX 24Full broadcast schedule on NBC Sports

Felipe Nasr

“For me it’s a joke that you see drivers have a great Sector 1 and Sector 2 and then come Sector 3, which is just one corner, just the Bus Stop, and you’re going to be half a second off? Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Just do the damn lap. Show what you got. It makes the whole life of the series easier. It makes everybody’s life easier.”

Derani, who took the checkered flag, said he was “a little upset that we know some other guys are not showing everything they have.

“At least on our side, we’re going to do the best we can,” he said. “The whole reason for the new format, which I love, is to give an incentive for teams to push considering there’s points available for qualifying. On our side, I have to say that we did that. Maybe the incentive wasn’t big enough for other teams to come and show their hands, which is a shame. On our side, a race win is a race win, whether 35 points or 350 points. That’s how we go racing, we always try our best to go win every race.

“One thing you can be sure, we are always going to give our maximum and go for that win, and that’s what happened today. No matter what others did, we’re trying to do our part and our best all the time.”

The race marked the conclusion of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session, in which teams frequently accuse each other of sandbagging to avoid being penalized via aerodynamic, horsepower and weight adjustments made by IMSA as part of its Balance of Performance policy.

The Roar normally takes place three weeks ahead of the race, but IMSA still could react with BoP changes despite the main event only being a week later this year.

Pipo Derani (left) and Felipe Nasr are interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee after winning the Motul 100 (IMSA).

Asked for a response to the drivers’ comments, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series vice president of competition Simon Hodgson said, “The checkered flag has just fallen on a successful Motul Pole Award 100 and the start of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

“Post-race, the IMSA Technical Scrutineering Department impounded many cars across all five classes to diligently inspect and assess compliance to the class-specific technical regulations. The IMSA Technical Committee will then reconvene and evaluate all pertinent BoP technical data before drawing any conclusions in advance of the 59th running of the Rolex At Daytona event.”

Action Express Racing, which is fielding NASCAR Cup Series champions Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson across its two Cadillacs for the Rolex 24, dominated the speed charts during the three-day Roar before the Rolex 24 test session.

Kamui Kobayashi paced the opening practice Friday and the Sunday morning warmup. Mike Conway led the second session Friday, and Nasr qualified first for the Motul 100 before an inspection failure.

The other two practice sessions were led by Cadillac drivers Tristan Vautier and Kevin Magnussen.

Nasr said he felt the competition was intentionally laying back to make the Cadillacs a potential target of IMSA performance restrictions.

“Yeah, in a way, they’re going to look at the results and say ‘Oh, the Cadillacs are winning, so what are we going to do with them next weekend?’ ” Nasr said. “That’s how they’re going to walk away from here and say, ‘Oh they got pole, but they’re much quicker, which is a joke for me.

“From my racing experience, every time we hit the track at Action Express we show what we got. that makes everybody’s life easier to analyze that. I’ve seen that all weekend and today in the race again.”

GTD winner Bill Auberlen also believed other cars were holding back in his division and expressed concern that IMSA might react by penalizing his Turner Motorsport BMW. “It would be a travesty,” he said.

Auberlen said his BMW had been penalized for the past five years on BoP before the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but “this year they wanted us to race, so we just put our heads down and race. I drafted, I passed, we did our pit strategies. We did everything.

“I hope (IMSA) don’t react the wrong way, and they see through some of the fraud that was going on. … I hope they can see it. Or if they don’t quite see it, just leave it alone (for the Rolex 24).”

Auberlen suggested that IMSA should make the new qualifying race pay full points (instead of 10% of the main event) to incentivize more competition. “Then there’s a lot more skin in the game and you get people to pony up and show what they got,” he said. “I don’t think there’s enough on the table to flush everyone out.”

The No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 of Robby Foley, Bill Auberlen, Aidan Read and Colton Herta won the GTD pole in Sunday’s qualifying race (IMSA).

Nasr also believed awarding more points would convince teams running for the championship to try harder.

“I think one thing to say is we’re being crystal clear with what we have, trying to be very honest and expecting that honesty will pay off with a fair balance for a very important race,” Derani said. “We wouldn’t like to see otherwise being penalized for being honest. It’s not the way we should go. We always go for the race win, the maximum that we have.”

The non-Cadillac teams in the DPi division for the Rolex 24 are the No. 55 Mazda of Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis, the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Acura of Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi and the Meyer Shank Racing No. 60 Acura of Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla, Juan Pablo Montoya and AJ Allmendinger.

Nasr declined to single out competitors that he felt were laying back.

“I know there are competitors, all the competitors,” he said. “I ain’t going to name them. They’re not showing their hands. We’re working flat out to show what we’ve got. They just don’t seem to be doing their thing. They could go much quicker than what they’re doing.

“It’s not my job to look at that, but I hope whoever is looking after it can understand that.”

Derani and Nasr were the No. 31 drivers for Sunday, but the Brazilians will be teamed with Mike Conway and Elliott when the car starts first in the Rolex 24.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Detroit


The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.

Supercross Results Detroit
Justin Barcia was part of an exciting, four-rider battle in the middle of Detroit’s A-Main. – Feld Motor Sports

For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.

Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.

Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.

It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.

Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.

Plessinger’s fall took the wind from his sails. He attempted to right his bike after a hard crash, but as it smoked and pinged, he dropped to 13th in the final rundown.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.

Supercross Results Detroit
Strong starts have been one of the keys to Hunter Lawrence’s success in 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.

Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.

Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.

Rounding out the top five is Chris Blose, who was pressed into service at the start of the season because of a rash of injuries at Pro Circuit Kawasaki. This is Blose’s first top-five of the season, although he’s steadily improved over the past five rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 East Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.

The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.

2023 Results

Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s