In the closest finish in the history of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley and drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia captured the 47th anniversary of the twice-around-the clock challenge on Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. The final hours of the twice-around-the-clock marathon came down to an epic four-way battle between the No. 58 and 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Rileys, the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley â€“ a team that has captured the past three Rolex 24s. â€¨The margin of victory was a miniscule 0.167 seconds. This margin is particularly incredible considering the race lasted for 24 hours, 26.465 seconds. During the highly contested battle, there were 51 lead changes among 53 drivers and 9 cars.
The final hour started with a caution that bunched up the field one last time for a sprint to the end. In most 24-hour races, such a flag would not have much of an impact. However, this time what it meant was there would be 4 cars with a shot at winning the Rolex 24. The simple fact that in a 24 hour race you even have 4 cars that are still on the same lap is a testament to what the Grand Am series has accomplished. For decades, Rolex has delivered the greatest professional watches in the world that have set the performance marks for endurance and reliability. Doesnâ€™t it make perfect sense that the ultimate watch company would sponsor what turned out to be the greatest and most challenging race of the racing year?
Professional car racing has been linked for decades to Paul Newman and the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. The legendary actor passed away in 2008, and his dedication to the sport of racing will be remembered. At the Rolex 24, Patrick Dempsey and his Dempsey team succeeded in carrying forward the Newman legacy. Unlike the year before when they failed to finish, the Dempsey team finished a respectable 35 out of 49 teams.
In terms of the quality of the race, it is amazing that the Brumos team was able to hold off the well-funded Ganassi team, which had won the Rolex 24 for four straight years. As Terrible Tim wrote in the Sporting News, â€œThe Rolex 24 had history and heritage. You could see the history playing out right in front of you. You cold feel the heritage this little team had and the status they aspired to achieve. You could feel the drama unfold lap after lap better than an NCIS episode. You had to love this little team holding off what could be the largest wallet in sports car racing. You had to love the fact that the whole scene centered on a heritage the sport holds so dearly and was so happy to display for the world.
David Donohue, the leader of the winning team, joins his late father Mark as the third father-son combination to win the overall Rolex 24. He beamed during his post-race interview, â€œIâ€™m certainly very, very proud of my father and his accomplishments and what heâ€™s done,â€ Donohue said. â€œJust coincidentally we happened to nail it on the 40th anniversary of him winning.â€ Once again, Rolex shows why it is the very best watch in the world by sponsoring the very best competitors and performers!