Wilson wins, others have mixed luck at Rolex 24

IndyCar commentary — By on January 29, 2012 9:16 pm
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In a comeback of the most stellar fashion possible, Justin Wilson proved that he has fully recovered from the injuries he suffered at last year’s INDYCAR event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by driving a quadruple overnight stint as part of the victorious effort put forth by the Michael Shank Racing #60 entry at the 2012 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Wilson’s victory was one great positive among a day largely defined by bad luck for the other entrants from the INDYCAR paddocks.

The juggernaut Chip Ganassi Racing entries were both plagued by setbacks that proved impossible to overcome. The #02 team, for which Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were two of the drivers, suffered a broken shifter overnight and recovered to finish a lap down in 4th place. The #01 entry, co-piloted by Graham Rahal, lost first and second gear on exit from a late-race pit stop and wound up in 6th.

The #77 Doran Racing entry, whose driver line-up featured Paul Tracy, was beset by engine trouble through much of the early portion of the event and came home 7th in the DP class.

After landing a last-second seat in the Starworks Motorsport #2 entry, Marco Andretti put forth a monumental effort that ultimately saw him receive treatment for dehydration in the infield care center. Andretti drove directly from an INDYCAR test at Palm Beach International Raceway to arrive at Daytona in time to take his first laps under race conditions in a car he had never seen at a track he had not driven since his time in the Skip Barber National Championship. Despite these many challenges, he kept a competitive pace, and the team — also assisted by Ryan Hunter-Reay, another late addition after his initial deal fell through earlier this week — was performing well until mechanical issues caused its demise after 736 laps.

A very disappointed Ryan Briscoe and the rest of the SunTrust Racing #10 team left the event early due to valvetrain issues.

Several drivers who competed in Firestone Indy Lights in 2011 posted very strong results. Jorge Goncalvez and Gustavo Yacaman formed part of the team piloting the #6 Michael Shank Racing entry that ended the event in 3rd place.

The sole current INDYCAR driver to enter the GT class, James Hinchcliffe, had an uneventful race and quietly helped his team bring the SpeedSource #70 entry 6th in class.

Other newsworthy items relating to INDYCAR revealed during the course of the event:

- Paul Tracy confirmed that the team he is attempting to ink a deal with is Michael Shank Racing. He stated in a television interview that the team and the sponsor are lined up and that the only missing link is an engine contract. Tracy confirmed that, if the deal goes forward, this will be his last season before his retirement. If the deal falls through, Tracy will declare his career closed.

- Ford is reportedly working on a turbocharged V6 engine to use in GRAND-AM competition, an engine spec that theoretically could be compatible with those being introduced for the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012.

The full results of current INDYCAR drivers are published below.

Position in class (of 14) Driver GRAND-AM Team/Car # INDYCAR team/car #
1 Justin Wilson Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian #60 Dale Coyne Racing
3 Jorge Goncalvez Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian #6 Unconfirmed (2011: FIL/Belardi Auto Racing)
3 Gustavo Yacaman Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian #6 Unconfirmed (2011: FIL/Team Moore Racing)
4 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates #02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing #9
4 Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates #02 Target Chip Ganassi Racing #10
6 Graham Rahal Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates #01 ServiceCentral Chip Ganassi Racing #38
7 Paul Tracy Doran Racing #77 Unconfirmed (Rumored: Michael Shank Racing)
10 Marco Andretti Starworks Motorsport #2 Andretti Autosport #26
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay Starworks Motorsport #2 Andretti Autosport #28
14 Ryan Briscoe SunTrust Racing #10 Penske Racing #2
6 (GT) James Hinchcliffe SpeedSource #70 Andretti Autosport #27
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