Yet another lead change at the Rolex 24 at Daytona this time being taken by A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley Daytona Prototype. The brash young road racer turned stock car driver has run and led laps in the past four straight Daytona 24 races, and last year the MSR team led many laps before breaking. AJ really wants that engraved Rolex. AJ passed MIKE ROCKENFELLER/No.9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley DP – the little team that could. Action is the closest thing to a teammate or sister car that Brumos Racing could have. Brumos downsized to a one-car team, and the other car, crew and shop space is now under the aegis of Action.

Running third overall and in DP is SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley.

No sooner than I wrote this, AJ had a right rear tire problem, maybe due to a contact with a GT. He pitted for tire removal, with the crew removing about 100 yards of cord.  AJ went back out with some tire rub. It eased. During all this the word came that co-driver MICHAEL VALIENTE of Canada retired due to illness, maybe food poisoning according to the TV broadcasters.

AJ pitted again for a driver change. There was still some cord wound tightly in the wheel well.

Rockenfeller regained the lead, followed by Pruett. Allmendinger fell to third and then backwards.

A Pirelli spokesman said that there is a whole lot of cord in a tire, so wasn’t surprised by the reports of so much cord being removed. This weekend Pirelli said the tire problems so far have been attributed to contact or debris. There is a lot of debris in the Bus Stop turn. Another problem is the plastic rumble strip in that area. It is made of sharp plastic neoprene, and when the cars gouge it with splitters and other parts, the strip develops very sharp edges.

Meanwhile, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, BOBBY LABONTE/No.71 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup is leading the GT class, despite a pit stop. He’s running ninth overall. His pit stop was problematical, with problems with the jacks so only two tires were changed. Now the crew must decide whether to use hand jacks, and change two or four tires next time. Labonte runs for TRG in Sprint Cup also.

I must be a jinx. I wrote this and get ready to post, and Labonte ran out of gas while leading and had to be towed in. It ain’t over until it’s over.

No.60 passing No.48 GT. Photo by Mark Weber
No.60 passing No.48 GT. Photo by Mark Weber

MSR’s sister car, No.60 just pulled into the garage to work on the gearbox. “Coming to the garage this late in the race is frustrating” said driver BURT FRISSELLE. The crew will work quickly to get the car back out on course.

Last year’s Rolex Series champion, No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Chevrolet Riley pitted for a long mechanical stop.

Another DP has retired. Beyer Racing No.2 Chevrolet Crawford pitted a while ago for work, went back out and didn’t complete that lap and pitted, and then parked. The car had been a late entry and was behind from the get go.

No.18 TRG GT. Photo by Mark Weber
No.18 TRG GT. Photo by Mark Weber

The No.18 TRG/Guardian Angel Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup GT retired. Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup GT hit the wall and was towed into the garage for repairs. Remarkably, Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R GT made it back on track and worked up to 35 laps behind the GT leader. His other car, No.19 MCM/Black Flag Racing Corvette is still being worked on by the crew – setting a new endurance record for being in the garage for work.

Orbit Racing No.88 Porsche GT3 Cup GT turned itself into a fireball coming to the pits and flamed out. The driver got out safely and eventually the track fire crew extinguished the fire. RIP Orbit.

No.88 Orbit GT. Photo by Lynne Huntting
No.88 Orbit GT. Photo by Lynne Huntting

The GT Pole Sitter, No.69 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, had its own flame out, although not as serious as Orbit, said the crew. ANTHONY LAZZARO was driving and he brought the car into the garage so it could be checked and repaired. Turned out to be terminal.