Scott Dixon took full advantage of another team’s mistake when Jordan Taylor was forced from his car with 10 minutes left in the 53rd running of the Rolex 24, the annual 24-hour sports car race at Daytona International Speedway. With Dixon leading Taylor and the cars idling under caution while preparing for a restart in the final minutes of the race, Taylor was forced to stop and get out of the car because of a rule preventing drivers from driving more than four hours during a six-hour period.
Dixon, who had taken the lead from Taylor with 40 minutes left in the endurace event, went on to beat Sebastien Bourdais to the finish line after a restart with 7 minutes remaining. Afterward, Dixon celebrated with his star teammates: IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan and NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.
The victory was Dixon’s second in the Rolex 24 and a record sixth for team owner Chip Ganassi. “These things take a team,” Ganassi said. “We were watching Dixon for the last three hours, but it took a team of great drivers. I wish I could explain how close this race was in the last three hours. The concentration by the entire team was amazing.”
While Ganassi’s team celebrated, Wayne Taylor Racing’s teammates — Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli — struggled with the team’s third consecutive heartbreaking result in the race. WTR finished second in 2013 and 2014 before its third-place finish Sunday.
The win was the first overall for Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, and Larson, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year. McMurray, who won the Daytona 500 in 2010, joined A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as just the third driver to win Daytona 500 and the overall title at the Rolex 24.
Just three cars — the Ganassi No. 02, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Bourdais, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, and the WTR No. 10 — were on the lead lap at the end of the race.
The late-race drama in the prototype class overshadowed one of the most impressive drives. The No. 3 Corvette Racing entry driven by Ryan Briscoe, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia won the GT Le Mans class — generally considered the third-fastest of the four classes in the race — and was scored fifth overall.
Colin Braun was leading the Prototype Challenge class and running ninth overall when his No. 54 CORE autosport Chevy-powered ORECA FLM09 spun, hit the wall and burst into flames, causing the final caution period in which Taylor was forced to surrender his seat.
“I got it back going (after he was spun out) and thought I could get it back to the pits,” Braun said. “But then I think the suspension collapsed at the exit of the bus stop and I obviously hit the wall pretty hard. I’m gutted for all the guys. They worked really hard.”
Braun escaped the flaming wreckage and was not injured, but Tom Kimber-Smith went on to win the PC class and finish ninth overall in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 with teammates Michael Guasch, Andrew Novich and Andrew Palmer.
The No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT driven by Ben Keating, Dominik Farnbacher, Al Carter, Kuno Wittmer and Cameron Lawrence won the GT Daytona class and finished 13th overall.