Taylor Jr took the checkered flag after a controversial last lap of the 100-minute event, when he clashed with the JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac of Richard Westbrook.
The victory gives Taylor’s team pole position for next weekend’s American sportscar classic – the opening round proper of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – but despite his car charging through from seventh and last on the DPi grid, the closing stages had Taylor worried as his team attempts to score its fourth straight Rolex 24 win.
Its Acura ARX-05 appeared to have the upper hand on the straights and bankings at Daytona, but Westbrook’s Cadillac DPi-V.R seemed much stronger in the braking zones and infield section.
Read Also: Rolex 24: Taylor beats Westbrook in epic race for pole “It was really tough,” Taylor Sr told NBC/Peacock. “Ricky and Filipe did an outstanding job, starting seventh and bringing the car home in the lead, but right at the end the competition was really heavy. The Cadillacs were super, super fast but we were able to keep them off.
“This doesn’t really mean much. I mean, we like to win in Daytona but we’re going to have to work hard for next weekend because those cars have got something that… I’m not sure where they’ve got it from. We’ll have to see.”
Albuquerque added: “Well, I dunno if my heart will survive, because this was 100 minutes – 24 hours like this is going to be crazy.
“We started last, but it shows it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s going to be one hell of a race. When it’s so compacted, with similar race pace and we’re still figuring out what’s the best and learning for the 24 [Hours] – and Ricky did an amazing job.”
On the subject of the last lap collision – when Taylor slammed the door on Westbrook on the entrance to Turn 1, causing the Cadillac to make contact and spin off – Ricky says he was expecting the attack.
“I loved having [Richard] as a teammate. I’m not sure I like it so much racing against him now!” he quipped. “Honestly he’s a super-fair racer, I was expecting something because he was so strong.
“As nice as it feels to win, it just makes us more nervous for the 24 Hours because that was so hard. There was a lot of pressure. Like Filipe says, that 100 minutes was exhausting. He passed everyone on track, so I just had to hold up my end of the bargain at the end, but we were really struggling at the end.
“Good thing is, we have a week to go think about it, and we’ll come back and hopefully do this again for real.”