DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Another favorite was knocked out of contention at the Rolex 24 at Daytona when 2014 winner Action Express Racing broke an axel with just under four hours remaining in the endurance race.
The No. 5 Corvette was leading when the car pulled off the track and went straight to the garage Sunday. It left just three cars on the lead lap, with Max Angelelli in the lead for Wayne Taylor Racing.
Also in contention: Tequila Patron ESM and VisitFlorida Racing after attrition knocked many of the favorites out of the running.
Michael Shank Racing was leading the race when the engine failed during Oswaldo Negri Jr.'s driving stint. The Shank entry had led 99 laps before the failure.
"It was going exactly how we had planned; we were literally dead on where we wanted to be," team owner Mike Shank said. "When you have everything performing like it was, and to have it all go away in a split second, with no warning at all, I don't even know where to begin."
Negri had just taken over for AJ Allmendinger and was in the middle of his stint when the engine went with no warning.
"We were just looking after everything, taking our time. But suddenly the engine let go," Negri said. "It's tough; it's really tough to take. But this happens in racing."
A brake issue sent the Chip Ganassi Racing "star car" into the garage. The Ganassi entry is the defending race winner but returned to the track 10 laps down.
"It's a shame that we're that many laps down," said Tony Kanaan. "We have the leaders' pace, but that's what happens. It's 24 hours and you have to have a flawless race to be able to win. We had that last year, but this year we had a little bit of a hiccup.
"It's a shame we couldn't defend the title, but I told Chip we've got to come back again."
This was Ganassi's final shot at an overall Rolex victory because Daytona was the last race the owner planned to field cars in the Prototype class. He's switching his focus to a two-car effort in the GT class. It's part of Ford's return to Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of the manufacturer going 1-2-3 in the prestigious race. Ganassi's GT entries are the cornerstone of Ford's return.
In the GTD class, a Lamborghini driven by Justin Marks collided with a Lamborghini driven by Bryce Miller as the two raced for the lead in Turn 1. The accident knocked both cars out of contention.
The Wayne Taylor entry has been juggling its lineup all weekend because star driver Jordan Taylor has been battling a pair of infections. The team made the late decision to bring in former Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello as a fourth driver because of uncertainty over Taylor's health.
He drove an early stint then was given the night off — a rarity for a driver who usually pulls a heavy load in the endurance races. Taylor is relied upon so much, the team was disqualified last year when a miscalculation put him in the driver seat beyond his allowed amount of time.
He said Sunday he felt great after a morning stint in the car.
"I had the whole night off, which is weird," Taylor said. "It was the first time for me, but it was nice to have a full night's sleep and to wake up feeling fully rested."