The No. 37 car co-driven by Mikhail Aleshin will be at the front of the field when the Rolex 24 at Daytona starts at 2 p.m. ET Saturday. Aleshin’s Nissan BR01 had the fastest lap time of all Prototype category qualifiers during a Thursday qualifying period that was largely befouled by heavy rain in Florida.
Aleshin, who will return for his second year with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports when the IndyCar season begins in March, is co-piloting the sportscar entry along with three other drivers. The Russian had previously led all IndyCar drivers on the third and final day of the Roar Before The 24 practice event earlier this month.
The No. 37’s time (2:05.793) was fastest in class, but only ninth quickest overall on Thursday. The top seven spots in qualifying were dominated by the GT Le Mans class, which is the only sportscar division that does not have restrictions on its tires – a certain boost on a day full of inclement weather.
The fastest vehicle on the Daytona track was the No. 911 Porsche co-driven by Porsche’s factory drivers, with Nick Tandy clocking a lap time of 2:01.408.
However, because of IMSA’s start policies, which dictate that the cars begin the race grouped with their respective classes and that those classes must line up in a specific order, the Prototypes will be at the front on Saturday and that means Aleshin’s team will be first to see the green flag.
As far as the qualifying results of other IndyCar drivers, they were a mixed bag. Graham Rahal has something to smile about, as the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver helped his No. 100 BMW M6 entry qualify third quickest with a lap time of 2:02.497.
Farther back, the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing GTLM entry co-driven by KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais qualified ninth in class and 15th overall. Its sister entry the No. 67, whose roster includes IndyCar veteran Ryan Briscoe, was tenth in class and 25th overall.
The rest of the league drivers didn’t make it onto the first page. The No. 31 Action Express Racing entry with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was also 31st overall and sixth in the Prototype class, followed closely behind by Ganassi’s No. 02 Ford EcoBoost Riley squad including Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, who are the defending race winners.
The No. 90 car for VisitFlorida.com Racing, which includes Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, was eighth in Prototype and 34th overall on Thursday. Incoming IndyCar driver Spencer Pigot and former league entrant Katherine Legge were further back.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona begins at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, Jan. 30. TV coverage of the day-long race will alternate between Fox Sports 1 (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday) and Fox Sports 2 (4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Sunday).
Overnight coverage between 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday will be carried strictly online at IMSA.
Full qualifying results from Thursday can be found at IMSA.