2021 Roar At Daytona

#31: Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Chase Elliott, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway [© 2021 Jake Galstad]

#31: Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Chase Elliott, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway [© 2021 Jake Galstad]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

The 2021 IMSA racing season got underway this past weekend at Daytona with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 taking place, with a couple of differences from past seasons. 1) There was actually a race to determine the starting positions for next week’s Rolex 24 and 2) We were not in attendance due to IMSA Covid-19 restrictions (the first time in forever).

But unlike some of the comments floating around the paddock area all weekend (and particularly on Sunday) regarding teams “sandbagging” and keeping something in reserve for the race next weekend, we can assure you we were not “sandbagging” in our coverage and continued to follow the action both on the track and behind the scenes, utilizing our wide range of sources (both drivers and team members). We certainly hope and plan on being on hand in person at the Mobil 1 Sebring, as Jack is celebrating his 50th season of motorsports coverage and Eddie is celebrating his 40th anniversary. Combined, we are celebrating 90 years this season!

The Rolex 24 next week will be led to the green flag by the Cadillac DPi of Chase Elliot, Filipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Mike Conway, who secured pole position due to their victory on Sunday. The lone Mazda DPi finished second, followed by the Mustang Sampling Cadillac. The final spots on the DPi grid will be filled by two Acuras and two more Cadillacs.

Nasr didn’t pull any punches about alleged sandbagging: “I think all the Cadillacs put in a great effort all week. You could see in practice and qualifying they were within a tenth of each other, but the other manufacturers just aren’t doing their thing. Come on, we play a brand-new format for everybody to go out there and race so we are going after points. We’re here to go and race. I expect the maximum out of the car. For me it’s a joke, you see a driver who has a great sector 1, great sector 2, and then come sector 3 which is just one corner, just a bus stop and be half a second off? Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. Just do the damn lap, show us what you’ve got.”

Pipo Derani had strong comments as well. “I think one thing to say is that we are being crystal clear with what we have and trying to be very honest and expecting that honesty will pay off with a fair balance for a very important race. We wouldn’t like to see otherwise, or being penalized for being honest. I think that’s not the way we should go. That’s why we always go for the race win and the maximum that we have. I think, from what I saw this weekend, the points awarded weren’t enough to encourage people to just go for it.”

Seems to be a bit of negotiating going on in those comments. Cadillac certainly doesn’t want any additional BoP penalty for going 100% at the Roar. We will see what this week brings.

In other classes, Corvette Racing continues its winning ways with the #4 C8.R taking the top spot, with the sister #3 car coming in second in GTLM, locking in the front row of the class grid for GM. New driver Nick Tandy, who joined the team after racing against them for Porsche, was pleased. “They (Corvette) are multiple champions for a reason. We are lucky to be a part of this program and hopefully we can take the C8.R to its first proper endurance long distance victory. That’s the plan.”

In GTD, it was once again Bill Auberlen taking the win in the BMW M6 GT3 (believe it or not, his very first IMSA qualifying race win). As Bill said: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a qualifying race! But it’s cool to win something new. I mean, I like it!”

In LMP2, it was IMSA series regular PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports taking the top spot over a very strong field of foreign entries. A total of 10 cars are entered in the LMP2 class for the Rolex 24.

Finally, in the new LMP3 Class, which is featuring a total of seven entries, the #6 Muehiner Motorsports America Duqueine M30-D08 took top honors and will lead the class next weekend to the green flag.

A total of 49 entries took part in the Roar before the Rolex 24 and the starting grid is all set for what promises to be a very competitive race.

Stay tuned to, where we will be providing complete coverage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona next weekend, and moving forward, complete coverage of the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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