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Cadillac quickly takes control of the chaotic Rolex 24 at Daytona

Daytona Beach, Fla. – A fleet of Cadillacs took control of a Rolex 24 in Daytona, as Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express swapped overall leads several times in unusually cold temperatures and chaotic track conditions.

The round-the-clock 60th race had 61 entries, the most since 2014, and aggressive early driving troubled many of the top contenders. Adding to the intrigue was Florida’s coldest day in four years—it was 46 degrees quicker when the race started.

With temperatures expected to drop to the low 30s overnight, current IMSA champion Pipo Derani worried humidity could cause the track surface to freeze.

“With the temperatures so low, I think there might be some snow on the track,” said Derani of Action Express Racing. “If there’s a little moisture, and it’s very cold, you never know. I’m hoping it’s not, but they’re saying extremely low temperatures during the night, probably historic lows we’ve never seen before.”

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Teams were bundled up and down the pit lane in hats, gloves and heavy coats as they watched Action Express and Ganassi fight for the overall lead.

Two-time Rolex champ and current world endurance champion Kamui Kobayashi charged the early lead in the No. 48 Cadillac fielded by Action Express in partnership with Hendricks Motorsports. But his push to the front made him an early target for overly aggressive driving, a notion he quickly dismissed.

“Well, you know me,” he said. “All I can say is I drive like normal. I didn’t go crazy. I tried to manage minimal risk, to be honest.

Jose María López, his WEC teammate who started Daytona with number 48, said he looked up to Kobayashi’s tenure and saw nothing unusual from a driver considered one of the best in the world.

“I think he was aggressive and I think it was great,” Lopez said. “I have never seen him do anything dangerous or risky. I thought he was brilliant.”

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Ganassi’s Sebastian Bourdais disagreed after losing to Kobayashi during the first term.

“I think it’s Kamui. He threw me off the track twice on the final stage at Sebring and nobody ever says or does anything about it,” Bourdais said. “So he just keeps doing it. It feels completely out of line for a 24-hour run, but that’s okay. Keep going.”

Bourdais later ran behind No. 48, but was replaced by Kobayashi in the car by López. Bourdais believed that Lopez did not hold a line and went on his way.

Scott Dixon, one of a dozen IndyCar drivers in the field, took the lead at the six-hour mark of the race to pick up important points in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. Dixon put one of the two Ganassi “Star Cars” ahead of Mike Conway of Action Express and after a full course caution to take five points for the No. 01 team of Dixon, Ranger van der Zande, Sebastian Bourdais and Alex Palu. restarted. ,

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Kevin Magnussen was behind the wheel of Ganassi’s number 02 car and was eight hours behind Dixon in the race, with Conway and Action Express taking third.

Jimmy Johnson, the architect of the No. 48 program, which would run four endurance events for the second season, ran his first double stint behind the wheel – a show of considerable improvement in the sports car he earned. The seven-time NASCAR champion and now IndyCar driver was limited in drive-time at his last race because his teammates are far more experienced.

“You think endurance racing should get you a ton of laps and a ton of time in the car, but you don’t,” Johnson said. “If you’re not up to speed, you’re pulling early. Last year I was ‘not enough to earn that time, we just hit the minimum (required drive time)’ and got me out. This year I seem to be on pace and the team, I think it was the first time they asked me if I wanted to stay longer. I earned more time in the car. ,

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