Roger Diez: Rolex 24 is the Cadillac of finishes
The 56th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona is in the history books, with Cadillac prototypes finishing 1-2 and Felipe Albuquerque redeeming his second-place finish in 2017. Albuquerque and teammates Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa’s Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac Dpi took the checker ahead of the similar Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac driven by Eric Curran, Mike Conway, Stuart Middleton, and Felipe Nasr. The only other car on the lead lap at the checker was the LMP2 class winning Core Autosport Oreca of Jonathon Bennett, Colin Braun, Romain Dumas, and Loic Duval. The Ganassi Racing Ford GTs finished 1-2 in the GTLM class, 25 laps behind the Prototype class winners. After a race-long battle, the No. 67 Ford GT driven by Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, and Richard Westbrook finished .032 second ahead of the No. 66 sister car with Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Mueller driving. Top honors in the GTD class went to the No. 11 GRT Lamborghini Huracan of Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Franck Perera, and Rik Breukers. Finishing 56 laps behind the overall winner, it was the first 24 hour class victory for Lamborghini.
This weekend sees a break in the Speedweeks action at Daytona due to some big football game in Minnesota that seems to be eating up all the TV air time. Speedweeks will resume next Saturday, with all three NASCAR touring divisions in action. The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race of the year, the United Auto Parts Clash, is scheduled for next Sunday. The following week will see the Can-Am Duel qualifying races, the season openers for the Camping Word Truck and Xfinity series, And the grand finale (and kickoff of the 2018 Cup season), the Daytona 500, following on Feb. 18.
For the 40th year in a row, there will be an Earnhardt in the Daytona 500. No, not Dale Jr. who retired from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup competition at the end of 2017. It’s Jeffrey Earnhardt, who has secured a last-minute ride with StarCom Racing for the 500 and the remainder of 2018. StarCom recently acquired a NASCAR charter, which will ensure Earnhardt a starting position for the season. That can be a big deal at Daytona, which is typically oversubscribed for the 40 spots available on the grid. But if 2018 is like last season, it won’t matter much, because NASCAR’s top division rarely had a full field at most other tracks. The team will run a Chevrolet Camaro, continuing the Earnhardt association with the Chevy brand.
In local racing news, Fernley 95A Speedway has announced the car classes that will run at the track this season. They will be IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Northern Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, Modified Mini, Mini Stocks, and Chain Cars. There must be a minimum of eight cars in a class to run that night. In addition, the track will host two Pro Stock races and two Dwarf Car races. The first event scheduled this season will be a test and tune March 17. There will also be a car show and swap meet the same day. There’s a $20 entry fee per car for the test and tune and the car show, and $20 for a swap meet booth. The car show will have three classes; Classic/Hot Rods, Race Cars, and Offroad Vehicles. Plaques will be awarded for first through third in each class. Admission is free for spectators and crew.
So far there’s no word on the 2018 schedule for Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon. As soon as I get race dates for their quarter mile dirt oval, I’ll include it in this space.