Roger Diez: Rolex 24 at Daytona sets record distance
Congratulations to Wayne Taylor Racing, who’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi prototype won its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend. Former Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi brought the car home on Sunday, backed up by co-drivers Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, and Renger van der Zande. After 24 hours of racing, the margin of victory over the second-place Mazda Team Joest Dpi was a mere 65.426 seconds. The race, which saw minimal cautions and no rain, set a record race distance of 1,111 miles. The LMP2 class victory went to the Dragon Speed USA Oreca, while BMW Team RLL’s M8 took the GTLM win over a pair of Porsche Motorsport 911RSR-19s and the Corvette Racing mid-engine C8R. And the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 bested a similar Lamborghini, an Audi R8, and a Porsche 911 GT3R to take the GTD honors.
Friday saw the 11th and most recent class of inductees take their place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame with 50 other legends of the sport. This year inductees include three drivers, a crew chief, and a car owner. Buddy Baker enters the Hall with 19 Cup wins and the fastest Daytona 500 of all time with a speed of 177.602 mph, a record that has stood since 1980. Bobby Labonte, with one Cup championship and 21 wins, joins brother Terry in the Hall. Tony “Smoke” Stewart, the most versatile of modern drivers, has 49 Cup wins, three Cup Championships, and titles in Indy Car, USAC Midgets and Silver Crown cars, and amazing drives in the Rolex 24. Waddell Wilson, only the fourth crew chief inducted into the Hall, was Buddy Baker’s crew chief for the record-setting Daytona 500. He worked with the legendary Holman-Moody team and Hendrick Racing, and scored 22 Cup victories crewing for Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Baker, Ricky Rudd, and Ricky Craven. Finally, Joe Gibbs joins fellow car owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Bud Moore, Raymond Parks, Roger Penske, Glen Wood, and Robert Yates in the Hall. Gibbs’ drivers have tallied 342 wins across NASCAR’s three top series and seven Cup championships. Congratulations to all of these deserving gentlemen.
With the Clash just a week away, kicking off the 2020 NASCAR season, the sanctioning body last week announced some additional rule changes for the 2020 season. Race stage lengths have been revised for Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta, Texas, Darlington, Phoenix, New Hampshire, Dover, Richmond, and Pocono. The first and second stages will be lengthened, shortening the final stage. In case a race is shortened due to weather, it will be considered complete at the halfway mark or the completion of Stage 2, whichever comes first. It was also announced that the Xfinity series will race on the road course at Indianapolis on Independence Day weekend. As a result of a recent test there, the 14-turn, 2.41-mile track configuration will be used. Cars will run the same Goodyear tire compounds as at Mid-Ohio and Road America.
Finally, some sad news. John Andretti, who raced in both Indy Car and NASCAR, lost his three-year battle with cancer last week. He was 56. Andretti scored three Cup victories in NASCAR, and also won in CART, the Rolex Sports Car series, and IMSA. He is one of only three drivers to compete in Indy Cars and NHRA Top Fuel. In 1991 he was the top finisher of four Andretti family drivers in the Indy 500, finishing fifth, and was the first driver to attempt the Memorial Day “double,” the Indy 500 and Coke 600 at Charlotte. He was also known as one of the nicest guys in the garage. Godspeed, John.