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IMSA overturns last-lap penalty, restoring Level 5 Motorsports victory at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - IMSA reversed a decision in the Rolex 24 of Daytona that initially stripped the Ferrari from Level 5 Motorsports of the GT Daytona class victory Sunday.

The No. 555 Ferrari took the checkered flag but was quickly penalized for what officials deemed was "avoidable contact" with the Audi from Flying Lizard Motorsports on the final lap.

The penalty made Flying Lizard the winner of the fourth-tier class in the United SportsCar Championship, and the team celebrated in Victory Lane as its four drivers hoisted their prize Rolex watches.

Level 5 argued no contact was made between the cars — a claim video replays supported.

Four hours after the race, IMSA's group of supervisory officials reversed the call.

"We came to the conclusion that ... it was a racing incident, one that was not deemed a penalty," said Scot Elkins, vice-president of competition and technical regulations for IMSA.

Ferrari drivers Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal and Alessandro Pier Guidi — who was behind the wheel on the final lap — remained at the track during the review and were on hand to get their watches after the lengthy delay.

"It's bittersweet that we weren't part of the podium ceremony, but frankly it is exciting that IMSA really took a look at what actually happened, which was incredible racing in the last five minutes of this race," Sweedler said. "While it's bittersweet we weren't there, the fact is the winning team is now declared the winner. I think that's the right thing that needs to happen."

It was the second time during the season's opening weekend that IMSA disqualified the winner.

Shelby Blackstock and Ashley Freiberg were awarded the win in Friday's IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge when race officials disqualified Turner Motorsports for a technical infraction in post-race inspection.

Turner Motorsport's No. 96 driven by Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana had originally been scored the winner, with the Fall-Line Motorsports team co-driven by Blackstock and Freiberg finishing second until the final results were overturned.

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