DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Andy Lally struggled through the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and when it ended he was the series rookie of the year mainly because he was the only rookie.
His TRG No. 71 team was also leaving the sport, so Lally returned to what he knew — road racing.
Lally joined the fledgling Magnus Racing team, which was assembled by John Potter and started the 2012 season the same way he started 2011 — winning the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Teaming with Potter, Richard Lietz and Rene Rast, Lally brought the Primus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 to the finish line ahead of a star-studded field of GT competitors.
“The people that were assembled by John to start Magnus Racing just two years ago were top-notch guys, and he took direction from some really well-seasoned vets, and he steered the ship in the right direction and basically put together a really solid, strong effort,” Lally said. “And then it was a pleasure to be able to join with the team at the end of last season, and look forward to this being our first race, and it was just absolutely epic to come home our first time together, John Potter and I and Magnus Racing, to come home on the top step, especially at the 50th.”
Lally acknowledged last year was a difficult season.
“Well, first we won the 24 hours at Daytona last year, so I had a pretty good year still, no matter what happens after that as long as you’re still healthy it’s a really good year,” he explained. “But in regard to the NASCAR stuff, it was a tough year, but even knowing how tough it was going to be, it was a shot that I wanted to take. Knowing how tough it was going to be, I’d do it all over again. It was something as tough as it was and as humbling as it was and as much of an underdog as you could be, we were, but it was still a blast.
“And to come back and drive with talents like these three guys sitting next to me is cool trying to transition back into it and get back in the swing of things right off the bat.”
Most Daytona observers felt it was one of the strongest GT fields in the history of the race.
“Yeah, it was a crazy race because obviously there’s so many great competitors here as everyone knows about, but also the equipment is just — everyone’s equipment is just so good of all types of makes and models because we were talking before how many cars ran every lap and never went to the garage,” said Potter. “Seeing that, there was no room for any mistakes. We had a little penalty, a one-minute stop at the end, which in a race this close with such good competition could have meant disaster. We managed to pull out of it with some good strategy afterwards and of course some excellent driving from these three guys. But no, it’s just — the most challenging race I’ve ever done is an understatement.”
Lally talked about the strength of the field.
“I don’t think anybody is going to win a race like this ever again,” Lally said. “It was said all month long leading up to this as the entry list grew and grew and grew that we had nine different makes of cars and world champions from all over the world, from Formula 1 to NASCAR to IndyCars to international sports car endurance superheroes, factory Porsche kits like these guys that just fly around like under qualifying speed laps, and it was pretty cool for Magnus Racing.
“I’m sure the whole entire crew is proud and entitled to a lot of celebration tonight.”