By Josh Farmer, Contributing Writer
Highlighting the star-studded field of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona are drivers from six drivers from the Verizon IndyCar Series – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Spencer Pigot, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon.
Overall victories of the historic race have been captured by Dixon (2006, 2015), Bourdais (2014) and Rahal (2011).
The 56th edition of the event will see Hunter-Reay lead the charge for the open-wheel crossovers. Driving for 2016 Rolex 24 winning team Wayne Taylor Racing, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner finds himself in the prime spot for the 24-hour event as teammate Renger Van Der Zande put the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi on the pole. The pair is joined by defending race co-winner Jordan Taylor.
In 11 previous starts, the 37-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida has logged a pair of third-place finishes, once driving for WTR in 2013 and in 2016 driving for Spirit of Daytona Racing.
Starting alongside Hunter-Reay on the front row is 2011 Rolex 24 overall winner Rahal, who is moonlighting in Team Penske’s new Acura DPi alongside IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regulars Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor. Rahal, who won overall at Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011, is returning to the prototype class after competing in the GTLM and GTD classes for the last five years.
Pigot, who was recently promoted full-time with Ed Carpenter Racing in IndyCar, will be competing in his third Rolex 24 driving for the newly re-christened Mazda Team Joest. The Atlanta, Georgia-based squad spent the offseason redeveloping their RT24-P DPi entry and is entering the season with much optimism after failing to finish the last four years. The 2015 Indy Lights champion will share the No. 55 with co-drivers Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito and will start ninth.
Pagenaud, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, will represent Team Penske in the second Acura DPi entry. The 33-year-old Frenchman will start his fifth Rolex 24 from 10th alongside IMSA regulars Juan Pablo Montoya and Team Penske newcomer Dane Cameron.
The GTLM class features a pair of four-time Indy car champions and Rolex 24 winners in Bourdais and Dixon. Both drivers will be competing in Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GTs. The 38-year-old Frenchman occupies the No. 66 Ford GT and has two Rolex 24 wins to his credit, having claimed GTLM honors last year for Ganassi alongside teammates Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand to pair with an overall win in 2014 driving Action Express Racing’s Daytona Prototype. The race-winning trio is reunited for the 2018 edition and will roll off second in class, 22nd overall.
Dixon will race in the No. 67 Ford GT sister car with former IndyCar teammate Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, starting fifth in class. In 13 starts, the 37-year-old New Zealander reigned supreme overall at Daytona in 2006 and 2015, but has yet to win in GT.