The penultimate hour of the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona began with the field circulating under the fourteenth full course caution of the race, once more bunching up the field, including placing the no.6 Michael Shank car in fourth overall back on the lead lap.
In GT the story of the hour was about pitstop strategies with the leading teams making their penultimate stops of the race.
Leh Keen had lost the class lead to Magnus Racing driver Andy Lally before he brought the no.59 Brumos Porsche in – the first of the major players to pit, putting Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb in for a final stint aiming at ending in victory lane.
Wolf Henzler, Olivier Beretta and Lally made their own stops shortly after for TRG, Risi Competizione and Magnus Racing respectively. Toni Vilander – a familiar name in the cockpits of Ferrari GT cars in Europe took over for Beretta in the no.63, Richard Lietz stepping for Lally, setting up the intriguing prospect of he and Marc Lieb – championship winning teammates in the Le Mans Series – going up against each other for victory.
Lietz ended the hour ahead, Lieb second, but only after he had out-duelled Wolf Henzler, forcing the man in the no.67 TRG car to straight line the bus stop chicane, including the mandatory 'stop-go' levied for the offence.
Vilander runs fourth behind the trio of leading Porsche, John Edrwards fifth in the Stevenson Camaro.
At the head of the field A.J. Allmendinger was left to ease away, Lucas Luhr struggling to find a way past Scott Pruett for second after the restart.
That was until the three leaders made their stops for the hour. Allmendinger and Luhr stopped together, Ryan Dalziel taking over the driving in the Starworks Motorsport no.8 before following Allmendinger back out onto track.
Pruett made his stop a lap later, but needed to be pushed away his Riley suddenly without first or second gears. To make matters worse after he eventually got the car rolling Pruett was penalised for speeding in the pitlane and slapped with a drive through penalty.
The pair of problems was enough to give the no.6 Michael Shank entry – Sunoco Challenge winner Felipe Nasr taking the car to the checkered flag – into third place overall.
Pruett slipped still further down the order, falling behind Juan Montoya in the sister Ganassi car before pitting for the team to make the necessary repairs. Pruett returned to the track – problem seemingly resolved, but from challenging for the lead he had slipped to sixth place behind the no.5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Darren Law.
50th Rolex 24 at Daytona DP class standings after Hour 23
1. #60 Michael Shank Racing – Allmendinger/Negri/Pew/Wilson
2. #8 Starworks Motorsport – Dalziel/Luhr/McNish/Popow/Potolicchio
3. #6 Michael Shank Racing – Goncalves/McDowell/Nasr/Yacaman
4. #02 Chip Ganassi Racing – Dixon/Franchitti/McMurray/Montoya
5. #5 Action Express Racing – Donahue/Fittipladi/Law
50th Rolex 24 at Daytona GT class standings after Hour 23
1. #44 Magnus Racing – Lally/Lietz/Potter/Rast
2. #59 Brumos Racing – Davis/Haywwod/Keen/Lieb
3. #67 TRG – Bertheau/Bleekemolen/Goossens/Henzler/Pumpelly
4. #63 Risi Competizione – Beretta/Bertolini/Vilander
5. #57 Stevenson Motorsport – Bremer/Edwards/Liddell