Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

At 2:22pm on January 28 race car driver Dario Franchitti gave the command for drivers to start their engines signaling the beginning of the 2017 racing season.

It was the beginning of the 55th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with appropriately 55 cars starting in the field. The field consisted of GT LaMans, GT Daytona, and Prototype cars with an unpresidented 14 different car manufacturers including Cadillac, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Nissan, Aston Martin, Corvette, Audi, Ferrari, Mustang, and Ford.

At 2:31pm the green flag waved to begin the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway under sunny but chilly conditions. Rain was predicted for later in the night and the teams were prepared with wet weather tires.

Shortly after sunset the rains came and would not leave causing a full course weather caution for some two hours and not leaving until daybreak when the sun returned and dried the track. Overnight temperatures dipped into the low to mid forties causing some major problems with freezing drivers and lack of heat in the tires.

The number 10 Cadillac driven by brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, 30 year racing veteran Max Angelelli, and four time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon were so confident that they could take the overall win in the race that they had temporary Rolex watches drawn on their wrists.

When Angelelli stepped out of the car for the final time, he announced that it was his final race – hoping that he would end his career in victory lane.

In the 24 hour race no driver is allowed in the car for more than four hours at a time and no more than four hours driving in a six hour period.

After hundreds of laps and thousands of miles the family owned Wayne Taylor Racing team with son Ricky Taylor at the wheel crossed the finish line in first place to take the overall win of the Rolex 24 after spending much of the race in the top five. The team can trade in their drawn Rolex watches for real ones, Max Angelelli finishes a long racing career with a victory, and Jeff Gordon becomes one of only a handful of drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. It was the second win for Wayne Taylor but the first win for the racing team.

Chip Ganassi’s number 66 Ford took the win for the GT LaMans class with a fifth place overall win.

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