The Wayne Taylor Racing Acura led the Rolex 24 at Daytona with six hours to go, as Alexander Rossi held a small lead over Kevin Magnussen’s Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac at the 18-hour mark.
There was immediate drama as dawn broke, as Kamui Kobayashi spun the #48 Action Express Cadillac at Turn 1 while attacking Renger van der Zande for the lead a short time after the restart period that followed the eighth full-course caution of the race.
After a comfortable spell out front for the Ganassi car, the ninth yellow came with a little under eight hours to go caused by another spin for the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca.
Ganassi took the opportunity to change the nose on the #01 Cadillac DPi-V.R, dropping van der Zande to fifth and allowing the WTR Acura ARX-05 of Helio Castroneves into the lead.
At the restart, van der Zande was on the move, picking off the Cadillacs of Jimmie johnson and Pipo Derani to move into third, and some laps later the Dutchman found a way by the Meyer Shank Racing Acura of Dane Cameron to seize second.
With a little more than seven hours on the clock, van der Zande passed Castroneves to lead, but during the next pitstop phase at the start of Hour 18 the Ganassi car lost ground as van der Zande handed over to ex-Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen.
That gave the initiative back to WTR, and when Castroneves handed over to Rossi midway through the hour, the IndyCar ace resumed comfortably in front, leading Magnussen by around three seconds as the 18-hour mark arrived.
Felipe Nasr was third in the best of the AXR Cadillacs, eight seconds down, while Olivier Pla had the MSR Acura in fourth ahead of Simon Pagenaud in the second AXR Cadillac.