2022 Rolex 24 results: Helio Castroneves wins again for MSR; Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta win

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Just as he did in the Indy 500, Helio Castroneves took Meyer Shank Racing back to the top of the results board Sunday with a victory in the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Castroneves, who took team co-owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer to Victory Circle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time last May with his record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory, held off a charge by former teammate Ricky Taylor to win the 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 win for Castroneves, who is returning to full-time competition in the NTT IndyCar Series this season with Meyer Shank Racing. Last year he won Daytona with Wayne Taylor Racing, which he denied a record fourth consecutive Rolex 24 victory Sunday.

The MSR team celebrated by joining Castroneves, 46, on his signature fence-climbing.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

“Forty-six feeling like 22, brother,” the Brazilian, who took over the wheel from Tom Blomqvist with an hour remaining, told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Look, it was absolutely amazing. These guys keep pushing, give me a great car. I was joking with Ricky, ‘I taught you a lot of things in three years at Acura, but I didn’t teach you all of it. I had to keep some up my sleeve.

“Today I realized that dream. So happy for the entire group. In the end, I said, ‘Put me in coach, put me in coach!’ It was great.

“When you have passion, when you love what you do, you just got to keep doing it. There’s no reason to keep listening to noises. As long as I keep it going, I have no issues. I’m motivated. I’m excited. I want to achieve my dreams and keep it going. Today, another one on my bucket list.”

It was the second overall victory for Mike Shank’s team, which also won the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I just make it happen,” said Castroneves, who was teamed with Simon Pagenaud (his teammate in IndyCar this year and a first-time Rolex 24 winner), Oliver Jarvis and Blomqvist. “I had amazing teammates. What a great, incredible race.”

After two runner-up finishes at Daytona, it’s the first Rolex win for Pagenaud in his ninth start.

Taylor finished second in WTR’s No. 10 as Acuras swept the top two spots at Daytona.

Pipo Derani finished third in the No. 31 Cadillac, followed by Loic Duval in the No. 5 Cadillac.

In other divisions:


LMP2: Colton Herta won his prototype debut, snatching the lead with an inside pass on Louis Deeletraz in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA with 11 minutes remaining.

That brought a victory to the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA’s IndyCar star lineup as Herta was teamed with friendly IndyCar championship rival Pato O’Ward, incoming IndyCar rookie Devlin DeFrancesco and Bronze driver Eric Lux.

After skidding through the grass, Deeletraz hung on for third behind Racing Team Nederland, and he briefly confronted Herta afterward.

“He just wasn’t really happy with the move,” Herta told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “I thought it was clean. I was alongside of him, and two into the Bus Stop (chicane) just don’t go, and I had the inside line. It’s unfortunate. I didn’t want the race to end that way for them. These things happen, I guess.”

It was the second Rolex 24 class victory for Herta, who was making his prototype debut after three consecutive GT starts (winning as a 2019 rookie with BMW).

“I’m really happy with how it ended there,” Herta said. “I got big five stints there at the end and was able to bring it up to the lead. Congrats to the whole team.”

DragonSpeed rallied from being five laps down six hours into the race because of a rash of pit stops mostly related to speeding penalties (some due to a malfunctioning system in the car).

“This guy wasn’t going to let us down,” O’Ward, who scored his second Rolex 24 class victory, told Welch about Herta.”

It was the first Rolex victory for both DeFrancesco and Lux.


GTD PRO: In a furious battle of Porsches in the new division for pro drivers with GT3 car specifications, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet traded the lead twice in the final five minutes.

Their final contact happened in the Le Mans Chicane and sent up a large plume of dirt just in front of overall winner Castroneves, who took evasive action and said, “I did not expect a big crash like that right in front. So thank God, it was a little bit of anticipation (and) luck at the same time.”

Jaminet took the victory for the No. 9 of Pfaff Motorsports (the team that Vanthoor won the GTD title with last year) over the No. 2 of the KCMG team.

“This was crazy,” Jaminet told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “Still difficult to realize what happened in this last lap. But in these two hours, it was just driving for my life, and even when he passed me, I was like, ‘I’m not going to give this thing (away).’ It was too much hard work to let it go now in the last two, three, four laps, so I said, ‘OK, just give it everything and go for it.’ ”

It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Jaminet and teammates Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr (who is racing with the team for 2022 before joining Team Penske’s new Porsche LMDh team in ’23).

Vanthoor skidded through the grass and finished third behind Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari.


GTD: The Wright Motorsports No. 16 Porsche won with Jan Heylen taking the checkered flag.

It’s the third career victory for the team and Heylen, Zacharie Robichon and Ryan Hardwick; and the third for Richard Lietz.

“I’ve been with the team so long and I know how hard we tried in the past and how close we’ve come,” Heylen said. “So it means a lot for me but especially for the team.”

It was emotional as well for Hardwick, who missed last year’s Rolex 24 after being sidelined by a concussion in Michelin Pilot Challenge practice.

“I was just down the road watching (the 2021) race from a hospital room after a big crash here,” Hardwick said. “So, personally, for me, it was a bit of redemption coming back to this track and not only competing at a high level, but ultimately winning.”


LMP3: Felipe Fraga finished a lap ahead of the field as the Riley Motorsports No. 74 Ligier JS P320 won the Rolex 24 class for the second consecutive year and third time overall.

With 61 cars, the largest field in seven years, the race featured 17 caution flags that eliminated some big-name contenders.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Ally Cadillac was among the casualties as he made contact with a GT car near the halfway point, ending his hopes of a win.


STATS PACKAGE FOR 60TH ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after race

Fastest lap by driver and class after race

Lap chart

Best sector times

Leader sequence

Average distance and speed

Fastest lap sequence

Analysis by lap

Drive time

Pit stop time cards

Driver time cards


NEXT: The 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume March 19 with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (10 a.m. ET, USA/Peacock).

The Thermal Club wants an IndyCar race, and series executives liked its initial impact at test

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THERMAL, Calif. – Many teams in the NTT IndyCar Series questioned the relevancy of having a two-day preseason test at The Thermal Club.

The team owners, drivers and engineers believed the 17-turn, 3.067-mile race course that winds and twists its way through a gated private community (about 45 minutes southeast of Palm Springs) had no relevance to any track on the 17-race schedule.

To the leaders of IndyCar, however, there was plenty of relevance to hosting its “Spring Training” at a sort of motorsports country club that caters to extremely wealthy residents who also are automotive enthusiasts.

“Both with our stakeholders and the media that covers IndyCar, we wanted them to know that we are going to do things differently,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports from the private VIP viewing area that overlooks the long straights and twisting turns of the course. “This is going to be a year when we expect our growth to go to a whole new level.

“What better way to send that message than to be at a place we have never been that is exceptional?

“The quality of this place; the facilities are off the charts. The customer service, the welcoming feeling you get from the staff here. The track itself is fast. The drivers are having a great time on it.

FRIDAY SPEEDSThird session l Fourth session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“It really sent a message to our other promoters and our drivers and team owners that something is up. We want fans around the country and the sports industry to know that something is going on with IndyCar this year.”

The Thermal Club is a concept driven by Tim Rogers, who made his fortune by supplying gasoline to 7-Eleven stores in 36 states. He wanted to create a private community that mixed multimillion-dollar homes and luxury villas with a high-speed race course.

The two-day IndyCar “Spring Training” was the most ambitious motorsports project yet for The Thermal Club.

Rogers wants it to be the first step in a long-term goal for the community.

“Our endgame is we want to host an IndyCar Series race at The Thermal Club one day,” Rogers told NBC Sports as IndyCar hit the track again Friday morning. “This was a good trial to see how the facility can handle it and if the facility works for them.”

Felix Rosenqvist makes laps in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet during the first day of NTT IndyCar Series testing (Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images).

The two-day test was closed to the general public. It was open only to credentialed news media, members of the Thermal Club and a limited number of their guests.

With the spectacular backdrop of the Coachella Valley that is rimmed with snow-capped mountains, The Thermal Club could provide a great setting for an NBC telecast of an IndyCar Series race (and possibly line up a big sponsor for a return on its investment with a larger than normal audience during a ripe time such as the first weekend of February).

NASCAR is using that same model Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum by hosting the Busch Light Clash. The National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games were last weekend and next Sunday is the Super Bowl.

“That could work, but we have room where we could separate the public and the private members area, too,” Rogers said. “We could accommodate 4,000 or so of the general public.

“This would be a premium event for a premium crowd.”


Rogers’ dream of The Thermal Club began 11 years ago. He will talk to IndyCar about a return for Spring Training next year with hopes of getting a date on the schedule for 2025.

“Whatever fits,” Rogers said.

Miles and Penske Entertainment, the owners of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, realize Rogers has an ambitious dream of getting a race on the schedule.

Miles, however, isn’t ready to indicate that a race at Thermal is part of IndyCar’s future (though drivers seem open to the concept).

“Tim and everybody at The Thermal Club have done a phenomenal job of being hosts here for this test,” Miles said. “Everybody is very happy we are here, and I expect we will find a way to continue to be here. Whether that means a race and when is really a bridge we aren’t ready to cross yet.

“We really like opening the championship season each year in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ll have to see. But it’s a great way to start the season in this way, and right now, we are happy to be here.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Defending IndyCar champion Will Power takes laps at The Thermal Club during the first day of the track’s first test (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

On track, it was a successful two-day test session with 27 car/driver combinations that will compete in IndyCar in 2023. It’s the largest field for IndyCar since the 1990s. There were a few spins here and there but no major incidents across 2,560 laps.

Kyle Kirkwood led the final session Friday while getting acquainted with his new No. 27 team at Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood has replaced Alexander Rossi at Andretti, whom Kirkwood drove for in Indy Lights.

His time of 1 minute, 38.827 seconds (111.721 mph) around the 3.067-mile road course was the fastest of the fourth and final session. But the fastest speed over two days was defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Friday morning session (1:38.4228, 112.182 mph in the No. 8 Honda).

Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing was second in the final session at 1:38.8404 (111.707 mph) in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rookie Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was third at 1:38.8049 (111.707 mph) in the No. 11 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth at 1:38.8718 (111.672 mph) in the No. 10. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske rounded out the top five at 1:38.9341 (111.602 mph) in the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Ericsson was the fastest in combined times followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda, Kirkwood, Ilott and Armstrong. Positions 3-5 speeds were from the final practice session on Friday.

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
With members’ houses in the background, Romain Grosjean navigates the turns of The Thermal Club in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Drivers didn’t know what to expect before hitting the track. After the two-day test was over, NBC Sports asked several drivers what they learned from The Thermal Club.

“I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske said. “I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

“It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup; this preseason build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

IndyCar Thermal Club test
Josef Newgarden said his No. 2 team (which has a new lead engineer) used The Thermal Club test as an opportunity for building cohesion (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).
Indycar Series Test - Day 2
Josef Newgarden (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

“I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s OK.”

But even though the track has no sector particularly similar to any road or street course on the schedule, there still were benefits.

“In a lot of ways, it is relevant,” Newgarden said. “For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, (it) doesn’t really matter.

“For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint, it was very productive for everybody. Raceability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big drop-off from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

“You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.”


Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Will Power (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kirkwood found speed in his Andretti Autosport machine, but he used the test to create a smooth working relationship with his new crew.

“I wouldn’t say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right?” the 2021 Indy Lights champion said. “This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.

“It was quite a bit faster than what we expected.”

Many of the NTT IndyCar Series teams will test later this month at Sebring, Florida, as they prepare for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to kick off the season March 5.

“It’s a very nice facility, a nice area, it’s pretty cool to have two days of testing here with a lot of high-profile people,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske told NBC Sports. “It’s a very technical, tough track.

“It’s pretty good.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 2
IndyCar drivers turns laps on the second day of testing at The Thermal Club, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley that is ringed by mountains in Southern California (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

The Thermal Club received rave reviews, welcomed IndyCar and provided exposure to the movers and shakers of the business community that own the luxury villas and homes in this ultra-rich community.

Could it be a venue of the future for a series that sells lifestyle as much as on-track competition?

“This is a fantastic facility and the circuit is a fast circuit,” team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports. “It’s pretty exciting to watch the cars run around here. I think it would be attractive to people.

“I’ll leave that up to Mark Miles and (IndyCar President) Jay Frye and everybody else whether we have a race here, but why not?

“It’s a great place.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500