By Josh Farmer, Contributing Writer
Scott Dixon added another Rolex watch to his collection, and with co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook scored Chip Ganassi Racing’s monumental 200th win in the GT Le Mans class at the 56th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The trio piloted the No. 67 Ford GT, which saw Briscoe leapfrog defending race co-winner Joey Hand – and teammate in the No. 66 sister car – on the second to last pit stop with around three hours remaining. The Aussie drove a flawless final two stints, putting 11.166 seconds on Hand at the checkered flag.
The pair of Ganassi Ford GTs dominated the event, leading nearly 770 laps in the twice round the clock event and ran in lockstep the entire day. Dixon noted that it was one of the most nerve-racking races of his career and strategy made all the difference.
“It was probably one of the most nervous races coming down to the wire,” said Dixon, a two-time Rolex 24 overall champion.
“I think the team has done an amazing job. To be honest, strategy was a big key there. The guys made the switch there, and we were able to jump the others. It was a little nice not to have to push the envelope on track and able to do it in the exchange.”
The win is Dixon’s third Rolex 24 win, Briscoe’s second and Westbrook’s first.
Action Express Racing claimed their third Rolex 24 crown with Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa at the wheel. Albuquerque nursed an overheating No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi home over three frantic final hours.
Hand brought the No. 66 home in second place, slotting Bourdais as the second highest IndyCar driver in the field.
Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud, driving Team Penske’s Acura DPis, both had their share of troubles. Rahal’s No. 7 entry spent time in the lead, but was denied a shot at victory after co-driver and former IndyCar star Helio Castroneves made contact with Action Express Racing’s Filipe Nasr while racing for second place with eight hours remaining. Rahal, Castroneves and Ricky Taylor finished just ahead of their teammates in 9th place, also 16 laps down.
Pagenaud, piloting the No. 6 Acura, benefitted from strategy and led the race at the halfway point. Mechanical woes took the car out of contention with around eight hours remaining. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya brought the car home in 10th place, 16 laps off the lead.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wayne Taylor Racing saw their chances for victory hindered by multiple right-rear tire failures, forcing the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac behind the wall for good with six hours to go – finishing 45th overall.
Spencer Pigot and Mazda Team Joest were plagued by tire issues as well and was ultimately sidelined by a fire with seven hours remaining, ending their day 46th.