Cadillac Takes Back to Back Rolex 24 at Daytona Crowns

Cadillac’s DPi-V.R has taken it’s second consecutive overall victory at IMSA’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.  

The No.5 Mustang Sampling crew of Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa, and Christian Fittipaldi took victory this year, avenging 2017’s controversial loss to the Wayne Taylor Cadillac. Their Action Express Racing teammates in the No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac team finished second.

It was a record-breaking race, which saw new distance and speed milestones set around the tri-oval. The Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi smashed the previous lap record of 762, running 808 laps of the 3.56-mile infield circuit at Daytona International Speedway, thanks to only four caution periods. 

“I think it’s one of those things that we start to think that the world is kind of fair in a way,” said Albuquerque. “Last year, I lost it for very little in a controversial way, and this year, the engine was dying on us, or having problems, for six hours.

“I was looking all the time to the water temperature and oil temperature and it is flashing on and off at the same time. I am seeing the 31 and the 54 gaining laps and laps and I had to overtake the GT cars at the same time. It was really hard to manage. When you have to back-off, it takes heat out of the brakes and you get pick-up on the tires. I started hearing every little thing with the car.”

Both Action Express cars spent time in the garage as the team worked to cope with the overheating issues, while on track the drivers were forced into several tense hours of trying to nurse the car home while managing a gap. 

“There was a lot of drama behind closed doors that a lot of people didn’t really see,” said Barbosa, whose other two overall victories came in 2010 and 2014. “We had an issue, actually, on both cars that they were overheating.  I was very surprised by so few yellows. The race pace was very, very high for the whole 24 hours, no rest at all. We were able to put some water in the car during one of those times under yellow and it didn’t really cost us any time.”

For the Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta, and Spirit of Daytona Cadillac teams the race was a rather bitter affair. The WTR car withdrew at 8 a.m on Sunday for safety reasons after a night filled with inexplicable rear tire blowouts, which at one point dramatically ripped out the radiator. 

The Spirit of Daytona Cadillac officially died at 11:35 p.m. on Saturday due to an engine misfire that couldn’t be fixed in the garage. The car completed 530 laps, 25 fewer than the WTR car.