Matt Campbell started the beginning of Hour 6 as the race leader, with his No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 sporting a 11s advantage over Derani (Cadillac Racing).
That gap widened to 15s just a half hour later. Forty minutes later Derani pitted, despite having 50% energy remaining, along with the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R of Renger van der Zande. Campbell pitted on the following lap and was changed out in favor of Josef Newgarden.
The caution came out moments later after the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 of Nolan Siegel was stopped in Turn 7. After a cycle of pit stops, Newgarden restarted in the lead, followed by Derani and van der Zande.
Filipe Albuquerque, who lined up sixth in the No. 10 Acura ARX-06 (Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti), charged from sixth to fourth on the restart.
Derani stalked Newgarden as the pair gapped the rest of the GTP field. Meanwhile, Albuquerque took third from van der Zande. The relentlessness by Derani paid off as he got by the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and took the overall lead with an impressive outside pass entering Turn 1 roughly 12 minutes into the seventh hour.
The No. 6 PPM 963 of Kevin Estre utilized pit strategy to vault up the leaderboard, ending up second behind Derani following the next cycle of pit stops. However, Estre received a 10s penalty for “Failure to adhere to the Controlled Powertrain Parameters”, according to Race Control. After serving the penalty, Estre pitted, and Nick Tandy took over driving duties.
At this time, Sebastien Bourdais was on a strong charge in the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R and ran second.
Just 15 minutes in Hour 8 disaster struck Albuquerque, who slowed to a stop in Turn 3 with his Acura showing no signs of power, which brought out the eighth caution of the race.
The restart at the half hour mark saw Derani hold serve in the lead, ahead Bourdais and Felipe Nasr, who took over driving duties from Newgarden under the caution, in third.
With 16 minutes remaining in Hour 8 – and moments after taking the lead – Bourdais went off in Turn 5 and called over the radio it was due to hitting debris, forcing him to pit lane. Derani reclaimed the top spot and held 5s lead over Nasr.
O’Ward out front in LMP2
Pato O’Ward clawed the No. 2 United Autosports USA ORECA LMP2 07 back to the front and with a 4s lead over the Riley’s Josh Burdon.
Malthe Jakobsen (Crowdstrike Racing by APR) began with a sizeable 4.6s lead over Riley’s Felipe Fraga, but relinquished the top spot with a pit stop and handed off to Colin Braun. Following a series of pit stops, Braun held a 31s lead a half hour into the sixth hour.
During the caution for Siegel, though, Braun was brought to pit lane as the team opted for another quick driver change, with George Kurtz coming. Fraga, meanwhile, handed off to Burdon. Jakob Smeichowski (Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports) held the lead ahead of AO Racing’s Alex Quinn, who was at the controls of ‘Spike’, the team’s nicknamed challenger.
Quinn found the lead quickly after the restart and began hitting quick laps to build up a 13s lead over Smeichowski) just 25 minutes into Hour 7. Through the next caution and pit changes, O’Ward took over the from Ben Keating, who ran third at the time.
Garcia puts Pratt Miller’s Corvette out front in GTD
Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers began Hour 6 with a stout 29s lead over the No. 64 Ford Mustang GT3 of Mike Rockenfeller (Ford Multimatic Motorsports).
At the Siegel caution, Sellers made way for Sheldon van der Linde as the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 of Daniel Serra climbed to second.
Through the sequences of another caution, though, the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette GT.3 R of Antonio Garcia (Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports) climbed to the front and holds a 1.5s lead over the No. 64 Mustang.