DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As the sun begins to rise in Central Florida, the race looks to be coming down to a battle between the Cadillacs and Acuras. All nine of the GTP cars are still running at this point, but only three are on the lead lap.
Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Colin Braun is back in the overall lead with six hours to go. He was 66.444 seconds ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, although the 18-hour mark was reached during a round of pit stops. Teammate Earl Bamber is in third, then Ricky Taylor is a lap down in fourth. BMW M Team RLL’s Marco Wittmann has scratched and clawed up to fifth.
During the caution at the halfway point, Acura planned to flush the systems of both the Meyer Shank and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport cars. The Shank flush went off without a hitch. On the WTR Acura, a bracket necessary to add oil to the car broke, forcing the team to go behind the wall for a quick fix. That cost them two laps.
The Action Express Racing Cadillac was right in the hunt until Pipo Derani was hit by a GT car in West Bend right at the end of the 15th hour. The contact broke the left rear suspension and put him off the track. Derani was able to limp his Cadillac V-LMDh to the garage, where the team lost 25 minutes replacing rear end parts.
The Porsche No. 7 spent additional time in the garage early this morning, dropping another few laps. They are now 19 laps down in 10th overall.
The LMP2 class has a decent battle in play. TDS Racing’s Job van Uitert led at the 18-hour mark by a lap over Crowdstrike Racing by APR’s Ben Hanley. AF Corse’s Nicklas Nielsen was third, then Rick Ware Racing’s Austin Cindric was a lap down in fourth. PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Paul-Loup Chatin was fifth.
In LMP3, the class lost two cars right after the 12-hour mark. The MRS GT-Racing No. 43 well and truly expired to bring out the yellow, putting them out. During that caution, the Andretti Autosport No. 36 of Dakota Dickerson stalled on-track. That car has also been retired.
In recent years, the class has been decided more or less on reliability and 2023 is no exception. The FastMD Racing team just went to the garage with a gearbox issue, leaving just a couple of teams in the class that haven’t spent time back there so far.
Sean Creech Motorsports’ Joao Barbosa continues to lead the class in 17th overall, two laps ahead of Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s Anthony Mantella. Performance Tech Motorsports’ John DeAngelis is third, another five laps down. The FastMD Racing No. 87 is listed in fourth, 14 laps down, while AWA’s No. 13 is 27 laps behind.
GTD Pro has been dominated so far by two different teams. One is WeatherTech Racing and the other is The Heart of Racing. The third quarter of the race saw The Heart of Racing run into trouble. The team had a short stint in the garage and is currently 16 laps down.
Jules Gounon continues to lead by 4.736 seconds over Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia in 21st overall. VasserSullivan’s Mike Conway is third, then Iron Lynx’s Andrea Caldarelli is a lap down in fourth. Pfaff Motorsports’ Patrick Pilet is fifth in the best of the new Porsche 911 GT3 Rs.
In GTD, the Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes continued to run at the front and challenge for the win. Then, disaster struck in the 18th hour when Mikael Grenier was fighting for the lead with Winward Racing’s Daniel Morad. The wheel bearing in the right front corner of the car chose that moment to fail. Grenier was forced to limp the car back to the pits, where he was tugged back to the garage. The Korthoff Mercedes did eventually get back out, but they lost 14 laps.
At the 18-hour mark, The Heart of Racing’s Marco Sorensen was leading in 20th overall. His advantage was 83.275 seconds over Morad, who had just made a pit stop. Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally was third, then Racers Edge Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Kyle Marcelli. Inception Racing’s Ollie Millroy is fifth.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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