NASCAR stars Larson and McMurray shine during Rolex 24 at Daytona

NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray held teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan keep the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 02 entry in contention for the overall win during the Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

Jerry Markland

For NASCAR teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, their time behind the wheel in the Rolex 24 at Daytona is now complete.

The Chip Ganassi Racing drivers both ran the No. 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley during the overnight and early morning hours, keeping the Daytona Prototype car in close contention for the overall race lead.

Larson, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, jumped in the car after 10 p.m. ET and immediately started turning fast laps as he chased overall leader Jordan Taylor.

Making his second start in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Larson carried the Ganassi car through the halfway mark of the race and kept the No. 02 Ford within four seconds of the race lead.

The 21-year-old driver gave up the seat to Scott Dixon just past the halfway mark, but would climb back behind the wheel at 9:45 a.m. ET for his first run in the sunlight.

More than 22 seconds off the overall race lead when he climbed to within 16 seconds of the lead with three and a half hours left in the race. Running a short stint, Larson climbed out of the car while leading, giving way to Dixon once again.

Despite running well in just his second start, Larson was happy to turn the reigns over to the three-time IndyCar champion for the final stint.

"I was happy they pulled me out of the car. That’s a lot of pressure," Larson said after his final run.

Showing improvement over his first Rolex 24 at Daytona attempt in 2014, Larson said he now has a new appreciation for the historic endurance race.

"After last year I didn’t want to do this race," he said. "It was my least favorite race in the world. Now I can’t wait to get back next year."

Racing in his seventh Rolex 24 at Daytona, McMurray pulled an early stint on Saturday, while jumping back in the No. 02 car just past 5 a.m. ET.

After his first stint, McMurray described the ride as "very uncomfortable" compared to his usual NASCAR Sprint Cup car, but insisted he was having fun. During his two stints, McMurray was also able to keep the car in the race for the overall lead with Action Express Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing, and the second Chip Ganassi Racing team.

The Chip Ganassi Racing teammates were not the only NASCAR stars in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, however. JTG Daugherty Racing’s AJ Allmendinger ran multiple stints in the Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Honda/Ligier JS P2 after the team started from the pole.

Prior to climbing out of the car with three and a half hours left in the race, Allmendinger had just posted the fastest lap of the overall race. Unfortunately for Allmendinger, his teammate John Pew took the car off course in the overnight hours and dropped the No. 60 car six laps behind the overall leaders.