DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—With six-and-a-half hours of racing left in the Grand Am Rolex 24 at Daytona, Scott Pruett’s #01 Telmex-Ganassi held the lead, as it had for the vast majority of the race.
After fifteen hours of competition—five-eighths of the race—there was the slightest sign that dawn might bring some hope to the teams trying vainly to chase the first-placed Telmex-Ganassi #01 Riley-MW.
Telmex-Ganassi still held the lead with Juan Pablo Montoya in the #01 car—the car of Scott Pruett, who is looking for his fifth Rolex win—but the second Telmex-Ganassi car, the #02, lost eight laps in the garage. The first real chink had appeared in the team’s armor. If one of these quick and powerful Riley-BMWs could break, so could the other.
It turned out Jamie McMurray was leaving the pits in the 02 Telmex and for some reason he thought the pit-lane speed limiter was broken. Eager to avoid a penalty, McMurray slammed on the brakes and drove off the course, damaging the undertray and bending the right front suspension.
There were only five cars still on the lead lap: The #2 Starworks, #10 Velocity, the #9 Action Express, and the #90 Spirit of Daytona—plus the leader, of course.
The Telmex-Ganassi still had its edge in top speed—Allan McNish admitted on Twitter that there was no way to beat the blue and white machines on pace alone. McMurray’s incident wasn’t likely to happen twice, and had nothing to do with the car itself—McMurray admitted it was entirely his fault. Still, any hope at all is better than none.
Montoya had a lead of over ten second as the fifteenth houtr of racing ended. The real battle in the Daytona Prototype class was between Ryan Dalziel and Max Angelelli, battling for second.
Dalziel, co-driving with McNish in the #2 Starworks Riley-Ford struggled to hold of Max “The Ax” in the #10 Velocity WW Dallara-Corvette. Both drivers visibly pushed their cars to the limit—the cars could be seen squirming and shuddering under braking, and fighting for traction accelerating out of corners.
At the fifteen-hour mark, on lap 456, Angelelli, who seemed to have better grip out of corners, pushed past Ryan Dalziel to take second.
Then came the fog.
Next: The Fog