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Roger Penske wins first Rolex 24 at Daytona since 1969

Roger Penske wins first Rolex 24 at Daytona since 1969

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Roger Penske snapped a 54-year losing streak at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday when Felipe Nasr held off two-time defending race winner Tom Blomqvist in the final 45 minutes of the most prestigious endurance race in the United States.

The win for Team Penske at Daytona International Speedway was its first since “The Captain” restarted his sports car program in 2018, first with Acura and then last season as a two-car Porsche factory team. Penske’s only other overall win at the Rolex came in 1969 with a lineup of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons, who was flown in the day before the race because regular driver Ronnie Bucknum fractured his finger in a motorcycle crash.

Team Penske also won the GT class in 1966, but he has chased the overall Rolex victory since 1969.

“To come back here and have both cars run for 24 hours and then win the race, it’s hard for me to believe,” Penske said. “This goes down as one of the biggest wins we’ve had.”

He lauded the crowd — the largest in recent history for the Rolex — and praised IMSA for staging such a competitive race. Five of the 10 cars in the top GTP class finished on the lead lap, and Nasr’s margin of victory was .0861 seconds.

“When we won in 1969 with a Lola, it was a lot different in those days,” Penske said. “But to think about today, the biggest crowd they’ve had here for a sports car race, just to see the competitiveness, a win by [eight-]tenths of a second, that’s unbelievable. That’s what I’ll say.”

The winning lineup consisted of Nasr, Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden, who would like to believe his win at Indy in May is what earned him a seat in the No. 7 Porsche 963.

“I just showed up, that’s all I did. Porsche and Team Penske delivered the result,” Newgarden said. “I was just happy to be here. You gotta talk to RP, though. I think he was crying up there on the pit stand.”

The second Penske Porsche finished fourth.

It was a fight to the very end, especially the final 30 minutes, when Nasr found himself trading the lead with Blomqvist, who was driving for reigning IMSA champions Action Express Racing. Blomqvist was part of the past two Rolex wins with Meyer Shank Racing, but that team shuttered at the end of…

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