In digging through the results a bit further, one surprise sticks out: the brand-new Acura NSX did something that Ford—with their mounds of effort and cash—couldn’t do with their new GT last year. The NSX GT3's first race ever—the grueling 24 Hours of Daytona—ended with an incredibly respectable finish after relatively minimal drama.
Normally, new race cars have all kinds of bugs to work out before they’re ready to compete for the win. Parts that weren’t made stout enough fail, teams that don’t know the best way to set up the car don’t nail it right away, and all manner of technical issues arise. The first race often feels more like a get-to-know-you period in race form.
Not so much with the Acura. The No. 86 NSX finished fifth with little drama, finishing behind three proven cars for the series and the Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Mercs were new to the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, but had raced elsewhere before.
While the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX retired right before the very end, that retirement probably wouldn’t have even happened had it not been involved in contact. Per a team release, contact around 6:00 a.m. with a prototype forced them to remove the hood, when it then ran without in the best display of haters-gonna-hate, just-finish-the-race-ness possible.
Unfortunately, removing the hood reduced crucial airflow to the No. 93's gearbox, and it overheated, forcing the early retirement. Despite that, the No. 93 finished 11th, anyway—out of 27 cars in its class.
Before its retirement, the No. 93 had been contending for the GT Daytona class lead.
Their performance was enough to get the Michael Shank Racing Acura team the lead in the North American Endurance Cup—a sub-championship within the series where points are awarded based on position throughout the WTSC’s longest races.
It’s incredible that every car that was new to the series this year, including not only this Acura, but the brand-new Porsche 911 RSR, the Lexus RCF GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT3, all finished fairly strong, with the biggest problems being from contact. (Reminder: don’t break the car!) However, for a completely new car to walk away with a championship lead is insane, and certainly worth noting.