Dawn Report From Rolex 24 At Daytona

The No. 60 Ford/Riley at dawn - Anne Proffit photo

The No. 60 Ford/Riley at dawn - Anne Proffit photo

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At the halfway mark in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona, it looked like the race could belong to anyone.

Although defending winners No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley were one of nine different leaders to pace the field, they kept swapping the top spot with the cousin car, No. 02 through much of the night.

The latter Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car would encounter a broken shifter into the 12th hour and lose time, falling as far back as four laps.

The lead came back to the No. 8 Starworks Ford/Riley at midpoint, while the No. 60 Ford/Riley held second and the No. 01 held onto third. There were five cars on the lead, 369th lap at midway, with the No. 5 Corvette DP and No. 6 Ford/Riley the final cars completing that distance in Daytona Prototype. 

Of the 45 GT cars that began the race, the pole-winning No. 59 held onto the top spot, hounded by two other Porsche GT3 Cup cars, the No. 44 and No. 67.

The last mid-race caution came at 2:11AM when the No. 51 Audi stopped at the entrance of the third turn, continuing until 2:35AM.  It would take until 6:31AM--just about four hours--for caution to reappear when Alex Gurney became stuck in a tire wall and needed to be extricated. That yellow lasted less than 15 minutes.

With 16 hours in the books and only two more until 3/4-distance, this was still a Ford/Riley dance as the No. 60 led the No. 8--the championship-winning No. 01 BMW/Riley still held third place with the No. 6 Ford/Riley fourth and the No. 5 Corvette DP--which had encountered annoying misfires in the deep of night, was three laps down in fifth now.

Only the top three cars remained on the lead lap and the top-10 standings belonged to Daytona Prototype entries. The leader in GT remains a Porsche GT3 Cup, in 11th position.  The No. 44 leads the No. 59 Porsche while the No. 67 Porsche is third.

The sun is coming up nicely--no repeat of the massive fog that slowed the field dramatically in last year's race. This race of survival is still a pretty quick one as the top three cars had completed 501 laps.

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