The event will be taking place at Daytona International Speedway, on the 3.56 miles sports car layout of the track, which brings in the infield version of the circuit, and adds in the Le Mans chicane on the back straight of the oval.
The hot favourites for the race though are the Meyer Shank Racing Acura with them fastest in free practice one, two, three and four and then taking pole with Tom Blomqvist by just under a tenth of a second from Felipe Nasr. However, the Porsche cars definitely shouldn’t be counted out at this point, with Nick Tandy topping a wet free practice five, with Felipe Nasr topping the final practice session.
It should also be factored in that Nick Tandy was setting purple sectors when he went off in the Le Mans chicane during Qualifying and Felipe Nasr is on the front row sharing it with the Meyer Shank car.
A team that should be worried heading into the event is BMW who are sitting on the back row of the GTP field, and over half a second of the pole time.
They have had some issues testing the car with them not for filling a test in Sebring and they didn’t have their second car ready for a test in December at Daytona. However, their LMDH technical director Brendon Fry seems more confident in their race pace.
Someone who’s had a quiet but consistent Roar before the 24 is Cadillac racing, with them being around midfield of the GTP class throughout the test, but when it came to qualifying, Sebastian Bourdais was only 0.231s off of the pole time, so their is still a lot of hope heading into the race.
Meanwhile, in the LMP2 class, the pole position went to PR1 Mathisen Motorsport with Ben Keating driving, in an interrupted qualifying session, which saw the tower motorsport car driven by John Farano go off in the Le Mans Chicane.
The 1.2 second mark that Ben Keating took the pole by is not representative of the competitiveness of class, with it being arguably stacked with some of the best drivers from their respective series. Austin Cindric coming over from the world of Nascar, Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden, Rinus Veekay, and more from IndyCar, and Formula 1 test driver Pietro Fittipaldi, and ex-F1 driver Giedo Van der Garde making up this all-star field which will also see them in the same spec machinery.
Next, is the LMP3 class Nico Pino took the pole position in #33 Sean Creach Motorsport car by 0.110 from Dakota Dickerson in the No.36 Andretti ca.
It may have the joint lowest competitors in the class with GTP and GTD Pro, but LMP3 always provides a lot of entertainment throughout the race with its mix of pro and am drivers creating some excellent racing, and some must-see moments of the race.
They are arguably some of the best-sounding cars in the field with their Nissan VK56 V8 5.6l engine making the ground rumble as they come past you.
Plus, this class has the battle of the LMP3 prototype creators, with the two makes in the LMP3 field being Ligier JS P320 vs Duqueine DO8 with the Ligier proving to be the faster car at the moment with it taking pole.
Finally, the last two classes racing this weekend are GTD and GTD Pro, which are also sparking intrigue from fans for a range of reasons.
First, there are three manufacturers that have their brand new GT3 spec machinery taking part in the race, with Ferrari’s 296 GT3, Porsche’s 911 GT3 R, and the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 all making their debuts in IMSA this season.
Furthermore, this race will be the first for Romain Grosjean since the announcement he would be a works driver for Lamborghini, with him taking part at Daytona in the Iron Lynx #63 Lamborghini in the GTD Pro Class.
Both classes are extremely close with Winward Racings’ Phill Ellis taking pole in GTD with a time of 1:46.093 being three-tenths quicker than Fabian Schiller’s and seven-tenths quicker than the GTD Pro Class pole-sitter Maro Enge, who himself was just under a tenth faster than Ross Gunn in the #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin really showing that the race is wide open in the GT3 field.
The car to have in these classes is the Mercedes AMG GT3, with the car making up first, second and third GTD qualifying and is the pole sitter in GTD Pro.