Roger Diez: All that was missing from Rolex 24 was the ark
The 57th Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona was unique. So unique if Noah had been there with his ark, he probably would have won. Not one, but two lengthy red flags halted the race when conditions became so treacherous even rain masters like Fernando Alonso were pleading with officials to stop it. The final red flag put an end to the proceedings almost two hours short of the full 24, and the race never restarted. Nevertheless, it was Alonso who made the critical pass for the lead and the win just before the red flag flew. The move made his fellow drivers Kamui Kobayashi, Jordan Taylor, and Renger Van Der Zande and the rest of the team proud owners of Rolex watches. Cadillac DPi machines took first, second, and fifth, with a Penske Acura Dpi third and the Core Nissan DPi fourth. The DragonSpeed Oreca was first in the LMP2 class, sixth overall, while the Team BMW RLL’s BMW M8 was 10th overall and first in GTLM. The winning GTD car was the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, finishing in 17th overall. The vaunted Corvette team, usually dominant in endurance racing, had a series of problems and its best effort was 26th overall and 6th in GTLM, eight laps behind the class winner. The 12 hours of Sebring on March 15/16 is next on the series schedule.
Fourteen Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers representing all the full-time teams took to the 1.5 mile oval at Las Vegas on Thursday. The main purpose of the test was to get a handle on the new rules package that will be used in 2019, prior to next weekend’s Advance Auto Parts Clash and Daytona 500 pole qualifying. Drivers ran in both single-car and drafting situations, and all indications are NASCAR officials and most drivers are satisfied with the results. NASCAR’s Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, John Probst, declared, “We feel like all the big pieces are in place,” leaving the door ajar for tweaks as the season develops. Several of the drivers were in new rides for 2019. Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, and Daniel Suarez are all driving different makes for different teams, and there were also several Cup rookies in the test.
And last evening five more racing legends were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Two legendary team owners, a four-time champion, and two stars who were taken from us too soon. Roger Penske, the “Captain” and Jack Roush, the “Cat in the Hat” were recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the sport. In 50 years of racing, Penske has scored 100 NASCAR victories including two Cup driver championships and three consecutive Xfinity series owner titles. Roush holds the owner’s records of 322 race wins across NASCAR’s three national series, five owner championships, and three driver championships. Jeff Gordon goes into the hall with a win total surpassed by only Richard Petty and David Pearson, and a championship count topped by only Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon is also making himself a name as a broadcaster, as did Ned Jarrett and Buddy Baker before him. Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki are the two posthumous inductees. Kulwicki is known for inventing the “Polish Victory Lap” and for winning the 1992 Cup title as owner/driver. Sadly, he lost his life in a plane crash before the start of the 1993 season. Davey Allison, son of Bobby Allison, amassed 19 Cup wins in his brief NASCAR career, including the Daytona 500. A tragic helicopter crash in 1993 took him from us. This year’s class of five raises the total number in the NASCAR Hall of Fame to 50 individuals.