The racing season officially kicked off this weekend with the 60th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona. It’s the official launch of the racing season with familiar names from IndyCar, NASCAR, and F1. From the broadcast booth to the driver lineup, big names were on display for a run around the clock. The depth of the field was chalked full of current and former IndyCar drivers, with nineteen drivers entered with IndyCar experience. At the end of the 24 hours, it was a shootout between Meyer-Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. The #60 piloted by four time and defending Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves took the win, giving Castroneves his second straight Rolex 24 win after winning in 2021 for Wayne Taylor Racing.
It’s been a hell of a run for Castroneves over the last 365 days. A second Rolex 24 win and a fourth Indianapolis 500 victory has resurrected the 46 year old Brazilian. Just three years ago, many were questioning if Castroneves had anything left in the tank. His final years at Team Penske in IndyCar were underwhelming and his 500 results as a part time driver were not up to his standards. A change of scenery to Meyer-Shank has landed him his fourth Indy 500 and now second Rolex 24 watch. The ageless one is on a hot streak of a lifetime and is showing no signs of slowing down. Castroneves' full time IndyCar teammate Simon Pagenaud snagged his first Rolex 24 as well. Pagenaud stepped in for his first stint Saturday evening and gave the #60 Acura a great drive early Sunday morning to pave the way for the victory.
In LMP2 IndyCar was out front as well. With three IndyCar drivers on the roster, Dragon Speed, who fielded Indy 500 entries in the past for Ben Hanley, saw 2021 race winners Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward take the win with assistance from IndyCar rookie Devlin DeFrancesco. It was the first Rolex win for the three drivers who are a part of the youth movement in IndyCar heading into the 2022 season. It was Colton Herta bringing the car home on the final stint, making a daring pass for the lead off of the back stretch. The pass was under review but declared clean, paving the way for Herta to pull away to a seven second win. DeFrancesco had the 5th fastest LMP2 lap time of the race!
Although they led early, the 01 Cadillac Racing driven by Alex Palou, Scott Dixon and Sebastian Bourdais had mechanical issues Saturday night forcing the team behind the pit wall for an extended period of time. Alex Palou managed the fastest lap of the entire race during his first stint.
Rinus VeeKay finished in the runner up position in LMP2 behind the Dragon Speed entry. Jimmie Johnson finished a disappointing 11th after mechanical issues took away the chances of the win for the NTT IndyCar full time competitor. The 2022 IndyCar season is just a few short weeks away with drivers returning to the cockpit for practice for the Grand Prix of St. Pete on February 27th.
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