When Harrison Burton and Zane Smith imagined leaving Daytona International Speedway with a trophy, it was likely the Harley J. Earl trophy, awarded to the winner of the Daytona 500. However, I don’t think either driver will complain about this trophy.
On Friday, Burton and Smith teamed up to capture the victory in the IMSA Pilot Challenge at Daytona International Speedway, with the Wood Brothers Racing driver holding off a hard charge from Spencer Pumpelly.
Over the course of the four-hour event, the winning team of Smith and Burton was able to record an impressive 107 laps around the 3.560-mile Daytona International Speedway Road Course, which works out to 380 miles.
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Spencer Pumpelly, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Thomas Collingwood finished in the runner-up position, less than seven-tenths of a second behind the race winner, despite making an epic run through the field in the race’s final stint.
Ben Rhodes and Hailie Deegan, teammates for ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, brought the No. 41 Ford Performance entry home in third place, with both drivers putting down an impressive pace, with Rhodes putting down the fastest lap of the event.
The No. 72 of Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak finished in fourth, while the No. 9 of Thomas Long, Jim Jonsin, and Brett Sandberg completed the top-five finishers in the season-opening event for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Although Burton, Deegan, Rhodes, and Smith won’t be competing at Daytona’s Road Course, as part of their NASCAR National Series duties, the experience proves to be valuable, as road course racing has become more common on NASCAR schedules over the last five years.