Victory Lane greeted Scott Pruett, whose win in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW/Riley matched the first five-time winner.
Talk about a perfect beginning and an end.
Hurley Haywood, the first five-time winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, sent this year's field on its way as the 51st classic's grand marshal. And, 24 hours later, he was in Victory Lane to greet Scott Pruett, whose victory in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW/Riley matched Haywood's record.
"For me, personally, it's great to be in a category with Hurley without a doubt," said Pruett, who now owns 10 Rolex 24 class victories. "I've been getting so many calls and notes and letters and everything from well-wishers talking about the achievements.
"It's been fun. Some guys have been calling me and they call me Mr. Five-time or Five by Five because we've won five Rolex Sports Car Championships and five overall victories at the Rolex 24. So it's certainly just been incredible for me and incredible working with the Ganassi organization, specifically Chip. He's a hard-core competitor. He gives you the very best he can in the way of people and support and cars and equipment and that is nothing short to help you get to each and every one of those achievements."
Several days after the race concluded, Haywood admitted to having mixed emotions.
"Scott did a fantastic job; he's a great credit to the sport," said Haywood. "I was kind of hoping that he wasn't going to do it. He's just tied me now. So he's got to do it a few more times to get ahead of me. But he certainly is a worthy title-holder."
Pruett shared this year's victory with co-drivers Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya and first-time Rolex 24 starter Charlie Kimball. Rojas and Montoya each have won the race three times. Ganassi's organization now has five victories – one fewer than the Brumos team.
Sunday's GRAND-AM GT class victory was a homecoming for Alex Job, whose team was a Rolex 24 winner in 1999. The final hour featured a shoot-out among GT rivals Audi, Porsche and Ferrari.
Job's No. 24 Audi Sport Customer Racing/AJR R8 GRAND-AM, co-driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara and Dion von Moltke led a one-two Audi sweep of the class – Audi's first win in GRAND-AM.
"At any point during the race there were six or eight GT cars on the lead lap. We were really just shuffling the order on pit stops. There was no real dominant car throughout the race," said Job.
A late-race penalty served as motivation for the team, according to Job, especially Albuquerque, who ran the final stint.
"We never went back to the garage or had an extended pit stop for anything," he said of team's performance. "We had a great driver line-up and everyone contributed to the win. We are just up the road in Tavares so a Daytona win is really something special.
"It is also special to get Audi their first GRAND-AM win and especially their first Rolex 24 victory."
For GRAND-AM's newest Rolex class –GX – it was baptism by fire. No warm up races here.
And as anticipated, several teams experienced teething problems which should be remedied as the 2013 season unfolds. For Napleton Racing, however, it was smooth running from the drop of the green flag. The Chicago-area team took the win in GX with the No. 16 Porsche Cayman of David Donohue, Shane Lewis, Jim Norman and Nelson Canache.
The car was virtually unmarked after 24 hours and performed flawlessly.
"If it wasn't for the pit-lane violations we had and a couple of other minor incidents on track, we would have had the cleanest run that I think anybody has had at Daytona for a long time," said Lewis. "But not one time to the garage, not one mechanical issue other than putting tires, fuel (and) I think they added some oil on one occasion.
"I requested a tear-off one time. That was about as mechanical as it was. It was flawless."
Next up is the March 1-2 GRAND-AM of the Americas presented by GAINSCO and Total at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. SPEED will broadcast the race live at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, March 2.