By Josh Farmer, Journalist
Ryan Hunter-Reay was the highest finishing IndyCar driver in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona with a 3rd place finish.
The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, along with VisitFlordia.com Racing teammates Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goossens, held on after a tough 24 race for the Daytona Beach, Florida based team. The #90 Corvette Prototype suffered from handling issues throughout the day and became the benefactor when several of the front runners had problems and wound up scoring their career best finish at Daytona.
“We just kept our heads down and got every drop out of that car that we had today,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was the team’s best finish here, being third. This is one of those races where it’s win or nothing, but these guys are in it for the long haul, for a championship and this is points racing. Good points today and I think we salvaged something out of it.”
Simon Pagenaud was second highest finishing IndyCar driver in 6th overall. The Frenchman set the fastest lap among his teammates Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Jonny Adam and led for a handful laps but could only muster a 6th place finish.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristic day hampered by brake issues and saw their quest for a second consecutive win dashed when co-driver Kyle Larson slid off the track on lap 264. The #02 Riley/Ford EcoBoost continued, but ended the day in 13th place overall, 27 laps off the lead.
“Unfortunately, we kept losing brakes, which is not real good for confidence,” Dixon said. “We lost the rears, then we lost the fronts, which initially put us down 10 laps. We got six laps back during the night and then on my (next-to-) last stint, we lost the fronts. A bit annoying and then obviously Kyle (Larson) lost the rears and ended up taking the front of the car off, through no fault of his own.”
Sebastien Bourdais’ chances at a class win were dashed as the #66 Ford EcoBoost GTLM entry suffered from teething issues in its maiden race and ultimately finished in 31st overall. Jack Hawksworth ended the day 4th in class but eight laps off the Prototype Challenge class leader’s pace as teammate Chris Cumming first spun in turn one on lap 120 then was plowed by the #0 DeltaWing of Andy Meyrick.
After setting the pole in treacherous conditions Thursday, Mikhail Aleshin finished in 38th place as the #37 BR01 powered by Nissan suffered from various gremlins throughout the day.
Graham Rahal’s day was ended the the brake rotor on the #100 BMW M6 exploded while Lucas Luhr was driving, sending him into the wall, relegating them to a 47th place finish.
Spencer Pigot’s first foray into sports car racing was going well as he made up 3 laps in his #55 SpeedSource Mazda over the course of a long stint. The transmission would fail just around 2 am as teammate Tristan Nunez was driving, which took them out of the race and left them in 49th place.