“It’s a different kind of pain, finishing second by that little,” said Jack Aitken after he, Pipo Derani and Tom Blomqvist were two seconds away from a Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in Whelen Cadillac Racing’s No.31 Cadillac V-Series.R.

If there’s a solid takeaway from the race, it’s that while the team were certainly disappointed not to win, they were also certainly not hard on themselves or the team’s performance in a race where something as small as pit box location could have made the difference.

“We certainly rolled out with a very competitive car, and we did a fantastic race,” said Derani. “Hats off to the entire team. We were flawless the whole race. To begin the year with a second-place – pole, a second place – gives us great hope that we are on the right path to fight for another championship now.”

Derani is the defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP drivers champ, and the team and Cadillac claimed their respective titles in 2023 as well, along with the Michelin Endurance Cup. For 2024, Aitken takes the seat that Alexander Sims vacated to go to Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports, and former rival-turned-IndyCar-full-timer Tom Blomqvist joins the team for the long endurance races.

Blomqvist was in the seat of the No. 31 V-Series.R for the final three stints of the 24 hour race. While good strategy helped him get ahead of the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963, a late caution negated the effort and the team were right back where they started.

Blomqvist made a valiant effort in the final 30 minutes of green flag running, including setting the race’s fastest lap, but he couldn’t find a way around Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche.

“I’ve got to say, what a fantastic job the whole Whelen Cadillac team has done this two weeks,” said Blomqvist. “As for my teammates, they’ve been absolutely fantastic. Not a single step wrong all race, really. But yeah it feels like the whole race was between either Porsche – obviously it turned out to be the 7. They were really, really quick at times. We were quick at times. I think if I look back, we were maybe a little bit better when we were having to take more care of tires, like double stinting, and they were really strong at the restarts, especially during the night and when it was a little bit cooler.”

Derani and Aitken watching from the pit stand were willing Blomqvist to make the pass, but knew he had done all he could.

“It was definitely harder to be on the outside than in the car. I’m sure it was the same for Jack,” said Derani. “But we knew Tom was going to do the job, and we came just short, but I’m really proud because I think we’ve done a fantastic job. Everyone involved in the team, we didn’t make a single mistake the whole week, really.”