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The Rolex 24 Hours Of Daytona was this weekend which meant 24 hours of sports cars rattling windows to kick off the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
It was a big year because the series introduced a new top class, GTP, which saw brand new cars duking it out for the overall win.
However, the finish that got everyone talking was in the LMP2 class.
If you’re unfamiliar with multi-class sports car racing, there are essentially (in this instance) five races happening on track at the same time. LMP2 is the middle of three “prototype” classes in the series and they put on an absolute show on the final lap of the race for the class win.
First of all, think how incredible it is that after 24 hours of racing, weathering technical gremlins, and keeping your nose clean two cars would even be in striking distance of a win.
That’s what we had on Sunday afternoon.
On the final lap, two LMP2 teams had a shot at the win. The first was Crowdstrike Racing by APR who had Ben Hanley at the wheel. The second was Proton Competition which had James Allen in the cockpit for the final stint of the race.
LMP2 Gave Us A Jaw-Dropping Final Lap At Daytona
Allen had Hanley in his sights entering turn 1 on the last lap, but Hanley expertly used every inch of the track he could to carry speed through the sweeping left-hander and force Allen to back out of a potential move.
I’ll admit, at this point, I thought that was all she wrote. Hanley and Crowdstike Racing built a sizeable gap through the infield and back onto the oval. I thought for sure they’d be able to maintain that lead to the checkered flag.
However, down the backstretch and through the Le Mans chicane — AKA the Bus Stop — Hanley encountered lapped traffic.
Surely, the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas echoed through James Allen’s head: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
Allen picked up a slipstream from the class-leading LMP3 car and used it to gain on Hanley into the tri-oval. What followed was a mind-boggling photo finish.
After 24 hours, these two cars were separated by a mere 11 thousandths of a second. For reference, a typical blink lasts about three-tenths of a second.
That’s absolutely unreal.
This, of course, was not the race for the overall win. That went to Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura ARX-0 driven by Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, and IndyCar vets Simon Pageneaud and Helio Castroneves. The win marked Castroneves’ third-straight Rolex 24 victory.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle