SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 40.681 seconds (127.293mph) to best Michael Shank Racing's Oswaldo Negri to win the pole for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
“It was important for us (to win the pole),” said Angelelli. “I can't deny this. It's nice after everything we went through last year, losing the championship in the final race. It's good for morale, it's good for everybody.”
Meanwhile, the defending Rolex Series champions had a setback. During the morning practice session, the team's No. 99 Chevrolet Riley was severely damaged as four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was passing a slower GT class car in the infield road course. Johnson spun off course and the No. 99 GAINSCO car made heavy contact when it backed into a safety barrier. Johnson's teammates are defending Rolex Series champions Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vasser.
The team abandoned plans to bring a new car – the No. 98 – from the team's shop in Texas after engineers from Riley Technologies determined the car could be repaired on-site.
“I put myself in a position with a GT car that I shouldn't and paid the price,” said Johnson, who was uninjured in the incident. “I hate it that I tore up equipment and put the guys in this spot. It looks like we will get this fixed and hopefully everything will be good for tomorrow.”
“We're not happy about it but it is what it is,” said owner Bob Stallings.