Daytona Beach, Fla. (28 January 2022) – The 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) TCR Champion Taylor Hagler started her 2022 campaign with a second place finish at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. Geared with the new No. 77 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR, Hagler and teammate Michael Lewis combined in the season-opening four hour endurance race for the second spot on the podium.
Hagler opened the four-hour race from the sixth row and quickly got up to speed while avoiding any opening corner melee. She settled into the race pace in tenth before beginning her march up the running order.
By the first caution appearing 25-minutes in on lap 13, Hagler sat just outside of the top five in sixth. Hagler brought the No. 77 Hyundai to pit lane on lap 15 for her first of two pit stops. A quick stop by the BHA squad allowed Hagler to take over fifth place as she exited pit lane.
As the race clock hit the three-hour mark, Hagler had gained seven positions to run fourth but the reigning TCR champion wasn’t finished. A door-to-door battle with BHA teammate and IndyCar veteran Robert Wickens ensued with Hagler succeeding in passing the sister No. 33 Elantra to break into the top three.
Hagler continued to push the No. 77 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR taking over the TCR race lead on lap 37 and led the field of 16 TCR entries before diving to pit lane to end her one hour, 30-minute stint. Lewis took over the controls of the No. 77 Hyundai and returned to the course in sixth.
Lewis quickly returned to pit lane to serve a drive-through pit lane penalty before beginning the hunt back up the running order. Strategy became key for the No. 77 BHA crew utilizing pit stops to put No. 77 Hyundai up to fourth. Patience paid off for Lewis as he clicked off laps with the leading TCR pack before breaking into the top three on lap 86 and then into second place on lap 96. After 111 laps, Lewis brought the No. 77 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR across the finish line in second.
The second place result is Hagler’s best finish at Daytona International Speedway and her sixth IMSA career podium finish.
“This is the way to start a season,” said Hagler. “Our strategy was ever changing but the guys at BHA made the right calls at the right time. It was a ton of fun to be able to push the Elantra hard knowing it was going to stay under me with the amount of stability this car has. The 2022 season is going to be a good one if we continue on the path we have started here at Daytona.”
Taylor Hagler returns to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition at Sebring International Raceway March 16-19th for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120.