Jeff Gordon, along with Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Max Angelelli, Jordan and Ricky Taylor, led the No. 10 Cadillac to its first successful run in the 55th Rolex 24 since 2005 at Daytona International Speedway.
The win comes as a sweet relief for the Taylor brothers, who failed to take home the checkered flag in last years event, and as a great end to an illustrious career for Angelelli, who insists this event will serve as his final race before retiring.
Although it’s another great victory to tack on to his list of Daytona 500’s and NASCAR championships, Gordon says victory in an event he failed to win in 2007 with the Taylor team is an exceptional feat unlike any other.
“I haven’t been this emotional for a win and an experience like this for a very long time,” Gordon said. “The reason is because I know what this means to this team, Wayne, these kids, Max. Oh my gosh. This is amazing — Daytona has always been special, but this one sent me over the top. I’m just blown away right now.”
However, it wasn’t a spotless victory for the Taylor team.
“I had the experience of being in the wet, and I couldn’t see anything. It was a hard — it was very hard to feel the car, let alone push it,” Gordon said of his own struggles in the cold and rainy conditions that led to a lengthy full-course caution period during his segment of the race.
After winning the second and third sections of the event, the foursome entered the final six hours with a one-point lead over the No. 5 Mustang Express team.
In the last hour of the event, with the Express team in the lead, Ricky Taylor made what is being considered a controversial pass, but nonetheless put the No. 10 at the front of the pack.
When Taylor made a final attempt at a pass on driver Filipe Albuquerque, with the No. 10 traveling on the inside of the No. 5, it wasn’t clear if he could make the pass cleanly. The two vehicles ended up making contact, sending Albuquerque spinning. Luckily, after the review, no penalty was issued to the No. 10 team.
With such an exciting and amazing race, Gordon was asked if he would compete in next years event, to which he replied, “I’m kind of like Max. I mean, I think retiring and going out on top is a pretty good thing… [but] it was a better experience than I even had in 2007, which was a good one. So who knows, maybe there’s the chance of one being even smoother and better.”
With this victory, Gordon joins Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and Jamie McMurray as one of the only drivers to ever win both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24, making this memorable victory all the more historical.
Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
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