DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – One small wrinkle has ruffled the Team Penske plans for the Rolex 24 At Daytona: Ricky Taylor has the flu.
Taylor completed a mandatory practice lap Friday in order to be eligible for the annual sports car endurance race, but he skipped Acura Team Penske’s press conference later in the day. The 28-year-old is a key element in the No. 7 team of Taylor, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves that will start second in the 24-hour race that starts at 2:40 p.m. ET today (FOX).
“Ricky’s got the flu pretty bad,” Rahal said Friday. “He did his one lap this morning – he had to in order to be cleared – but it sounds like Helio and I could have quite a load tomorrow.”
Taylor (shown above left with Castroneves) is a critical element in the lineup. He teamed with Jeff Gordon, Max Angelelli and brother Jordan Taylor to win the Rolex 24 last year.
“Hopefully he’s OK, but you never know in these scenarios,” Rahal said. “If somebody gets sick, how long does it last? How does he recover after one or two stints? Is he good to get back in after that? I don’t know, we’ll see. Either way, we’ll make this work.”
For his part, Castroneves wasn’t concerned.
“He’s young,” Castroneves said with a laugh. “He’ll be fine.”
Bobby Rahal wins Snodgrass award at RRDC dinner
While Bobby Rahal was emceeing the annual Road Racing Drivers Club dinner Wednesday night in advance of Rolex 24 weekend, he was surprised when the club awarded him its Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence.
"I swear it wasn't rigged," joked Rahal, the club’s president. "I got to know Bob (Snodgrass) in '79 or '80, when I first started driving Porsches in IMSA racing. He was just a wonderful guy, always open.”
Rahal was chosen from a list of three successful team owners and managers who competed in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by a panel of motorsports professionals.
The award recognizes the team owner or team manager who has demonstrated integrity, passion for the sport and love of cars.
Rahal, who won the Indy 500 in 1986, co-owns Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series and BMW Team RLL in IMSA.
Rahal isn’t the only team owner with connections to the Verizon IndyCar Series being honored this weekend at Daytona. Chip Ganassi will serve as grand marshal before today’s race start, including giving the command to start engines.
"This is a really big honor for me to be recognized by a race that has meant so much to me over my career, both as a driver and an owner," Ganassi said earlier this month when the announcement was made. "The Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of motorsport’s truly significant races. There are so many great cars, great drivers and manufacturers that all come together to make this a unique event.”
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has two entries in the GTLM class – the No. 66 shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller and the No. 67 shared by Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.