DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Roger Penske snapped a 54-year shedding streak on the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday when Felipe Nasr held off two-time defending race winner Tom Blomqvist within the remaining 45 minutes of essentially the most prestigious endurance race in the USA.
The win for Group Penske at Daytona Worldwide Speedway was its first since “The Captain” restarted his sports activities automobile program in 2018, first with Acura after which final season as a two-car Porsche manufacturing facility workforce. Penske’s solely different total win on the Rolex got here in 1969 with a lineup of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons, who was flown within the day earlier than the race as a result of common driver Ronnie Bucknum fractured his finger in a motorbike crash.
Group Penske additionally gained the GT class in 1966, however he has chased the general Rolex victory since 1969.
“To return again right here and have each automobiles run for twenty-four hours after which win the race, it is arduous for me to consider,” Penske mentioned. “This goes down as one of many greatest wins we have had.”
He lauded the gang — the biggest in current historical past for the Rolex — and praised IMSA for staging such a aggressive race. 5 of the ten automobiles within the prime GTP class completed on the lead lap, and Nasr’s margin of victory was .0861 seconds.
“Once we gained in 1969 with a Lola, it was so much totally different in these days,” Penske mentioned. “However to consider in the present day, the most important crowd they’ve had right here for a sports activities automobile race, simply to see the competitiveness, a win by [eight-]tenths of a second, that is unbelievable. That is what I am going to say.”
The successful lineup consisted of Nasr, Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden, who wish to consider his win at Indy in Could is what earned him a seat within the No. 7 Porsche 963.
“I simply confirmed up, that is all I did. Porsche and Group Penske delivered the end result,” Newgarden mentioned. “I used to be simply joyful to be right here. You gotta discuss to RP, although. I feel he was crying up there on the pit stand.”
The second Penske Porsche completed fourth.
It was a battle to the very finish, particularly the ultimate half-hour, when Nasr discovered himself buying and selling the lead with Blomqvist, who was driving for reigning IMSA champions Motion Categorical Racing. Blomqvist was a part of the previous two Rolex wins with Meyer Shank Racing, however that workforce shuttered on the finish of final season when it misplaced its manufacturing facility assist partially due to a dishonest controversy in final January’s win.
The No. 31 Cadillac, which had dominated a lot of the race with the Cadillac from Chip Ganassi Racing, wanted Blomqvist to shut the race as a result of, with solely a three-driver lineup, common Pipo Derani had pushed greater than eight hours and was exhausted.
Blomqvist pitted three laps sooner than Nasr with about 75 minutes remaining and was capable of move Nasr for the lead after Nasr made his personal pit cease. However Nasr bought it again below warning on the ultimate pit cease with 44 minutes remaining when he beat Blomqvist off pit street.
Nasr pulled away on the restart with 31 minutes to go, and although Blomqvist turned the quickest lap of the race 10 minutes later, he could not catch Nasr because the 86-year-old Penske watched from the pit stand. Penske is thought for staying up the complete 24 hours of the race.
The win capped a outstanding stretch for Penske, essentially the most embellished workforce proprietor in motorsports historical past. Previously eight months, he gained a record-extending nineteenth Indy 500 with Newgarden’s victory, claimed back-to-back NASCAR Cup titles when Ryan Blaney gained in November and celebrated the achievements at business occasions in early December and final week. He and Newgarden have been feted on the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan earlier this week and introduced with their very own reproduction Indy 500 trophies.
Cadillac dominated many of the race, however the Ganassi automobile was eradicated with an engine failure in the course of the in a single day stints and Penske took the lead with slightly below six hours remaining. Nasr handed Jack Aitken on monitor to take the lead and constructed a lead of greater than 4 seconds.
Newgarden had been asking Penske for years to drive Group Penske automobiles in different racing collection, and he wasn’t sure the Indy 500 victory was sufficient to earn him a Rolex seat. However he was severe about not being a hinderance.
“He is slot in completely with the workforce. He is simple to get together with and clearly very skilled throughout the Penske group,” Campbell mentioned. “That makes it fairly simple for him. It is good having a man like him. He brings lots of expertise in several methods. I do know coming from IndyCar, it’s fairly totally different. However he is introduced some new concepts to the desk.
“Having somebody together with his experience in a special model of racing has actually boosted us, and he is been capable of adapt very nicely.”
Newgarden mentioned his solely objective was to be a constructive addition to the Porsche workforce.
“After I come to work with guys like Matt or Felipe or Dane, I am studying one thing new and I am seeing a brand new perspective that I’ve by no means seen earlier than,” Newgarden mentioned. “I have not run sports activities automobiles that always, undoubtedly not as a lot as these guys. So that they have a method of taking a look at issues or approaching conditions a lot in a different way than we do.
“I feel that may be actually constructive. After I say be an additive, it doesn’t suggest have 100 good concepts and they’ll take all of them. However when you’ve got 100 good concepts, there could be 10 which might be relevant, and that will be an additive. I’ve bought that contemporary perspective.”