Joao Barbosa started from the pole in the #5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, with teammate Dane Cameron next door in the #31. The #31 Rebellion Racing XXX (Neel Jani) and #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac (Ricky Taylor) made up Row 2. James French started on Prototype Challenge (PC) pole in the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT’s held the top the spots in GT Le Mans (GTLM): #66 Joey Hand, #67 Richard Westbrook, and #68 Olivier Pla. GT Daytona was led to the green by Alessandro Pier Guidi (#51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488) and Alessandro Balzan (#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488).
Taylor took third from Jani at the start. Johnny Mowlem (#26 BAR1 Motorsports) took the PC lead from French. Toni Vilander (#62 Risi Competitzione Ferrari 488) moved into second in GTLM, splitting Hand and Westbrook. Marco Sorensen (#98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage) split Pier Guidi and Balzan in GTD.
French had retaken the PC lead with 23 hr 38 min. to go. Cameron took the overall lead from Barbosa 10 min later. Both Action Express cars pitted at 23:19, Cameron staying in front and Taylor taking the lead. Taylor pitted the next lap.
Pier Guidi and Sorensen pitted at the same time (23:09), ceding the GTD lead to Andy Lally (#93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX). Taylor passed Barbosa for second at 23:05. When the GTD pit cycle was complete the #63 Ferrari had moved to the lead, Christina Nielsen behind the wheel.
Cameron’s lead over Taylor was just 0,877 sec after more than an hour of racing, with Barbosa a scant 0.749 additional seconds back. French led Alex Popow (#88 Starworks Motorsport) in PC by 19.927 sec. Cameron and Taylor pitted together again after 37 min at 22:42. Taylor beat the #31 out of the lane and the #5 passed him on track. Seb Morris (British GT champion) had taken over in the #31.
Hand led Vilander by 0.368 sec in GTLM. Jan Magnussen ran third in the #3 Corvette Racing C7.R. Patrick Lindsey (#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911) led Nielsen in GTD.
At 22:31 Taylor led Barbosa by 0.242 sec and Morris by 3.708. Taylor, Morris, and Barbosa pitted together under caution 20 min later, Jeff Gordon taking over in the #10 and Christian Fittipaldi in the #5. The cars returned to competition in that order. Patricio O’Ward (#38 Performance Tech Motorsports) led PC under the caution, followed by Popow and Chris Cumming (#8 Starworks Motorsport.
Morris passed Gordon for the lead at the restart with 22 hrs left in the race. Gordon collided with the #70 Mazda as it left the pits, allowing Fittipaldi to pass him for second. Morris led Fittipaldi by 1.766 sec and Gordon by 13.345 with 21:46 to go. Hand led James Calado by 3.598 sec (#62 Ferrari) and Briscoe by 5.766 (#67 Ford).
The Action Express cars came in at 21:25, Morris leaving before Fittipaldi. Gordon came in the next lap. O’Ward continued to lead PC. Hand pitted from the GTLM lead at 21:14, Dirk Mueller taking over. Calado came in one lap later. Jules Gounon (#29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS) led GTD by 15.461 sec over Matthew McMurry in the #73 Porsche and 18.910 over Gunnar Jeanette (#50 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG).
Three hours into the race, Morris led Fittipaldi by 19 sec and Gordon by 48. Fittipaldi pitted at 20:48, followed by Gordon. Max Angelelli took over in the Wayne Taylor machine. Morris pitted the next lap, turning over to Eric Curran who stalled trying to leave the box and was then pulled behind the wall for a bump start.
At 20:39 Fittipaldi led Angelelli by 21 sec and Curran by 37. McMurry was involved in a crash with the #8 PC competitor moments later, bringing out a full-course caution. Mueller led Briscoe and Calado in GTLM under the caution. All pitted, Calado moving into second.
Green-flag racing resumed at 20:19, Curran in the lead having stayed out on track for the caution. Angelelli passed Curran 8 min later. Mueller led GLTM, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella (#62 Ferrari, +3.963 sec) and Briscoe (+4.209).
The #5 retook the lead just before the 6-hr mark, earning the maximum five points for leading the first segment of the season. Filipe Albuquerque held the lead while teammate Eric Curran held down second place – and earned four Patrón Endurance Cup points – in the #31.
Jordan Taylor was third at 6 hours in the #10, completing a top-three sweep for the new Cadillac DPi cars. Taylor was leading as the 6-hr mark approached, but an intensifying rain brought him to pit lane for rain tires, forcing him to surrender the lead to Albuquerque, who had taken on rains during an earlier full-course caution.
Frederic Makowiecki and the #911 Porsche GT Team earned the five Patrón Endurance Cup points for leading the GTLM at the 6-hr mark. Makowiecki had a 1.492-sec lead over Mueller in the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Shane van Gisbergen led GTD in the #50 Mercedes at the quarter mark. Balzan was second in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.
Seventeen-year-old O’Ward led PC in the #38. Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, was second in PC in the #20.
Halfway through the race Angelelli led in the #10, followed by Rene Rast (#90 VisitFlorida Racing Multimatic-Riley), and Fittipaldi. Kevin Estre (#912 Porsche) held the GTLM lead, with teammate Patrick Pilet (#911) running second and Hand (#66) third.
Nicholas Boulle held the PC point in the #38. Jeff Segal was behind the wheel of the GTD-leading #86 Acura, followed by Connor de Phillippi (#29 Audi) and Adam Christodoulou (#33 Mercedes).
Angelelli pitted in the rain to repair a cut tire with 11:42 remaining. A full-course caution came out for a car off in the bus stop as the #10 was returning to the track.