The Southard Motorsports team was left disappointed with the Rolex 24 at Daytona after an accident just four hours from the flag forced the #3 Lexus-Riley into retirement.
Shane Lewis, Bill Lester, Alex Barron and Ted Christopher had run as high as eighth in the race before an unknown failure on the car led to Lewis crashing out of the event.
He suffered minor muscle pulls in his back and neck as a result of the incident and was examined by the Daytona International Speedway medical staff before being sent to nearby Halifax Medical Centre in Daytona Beach for x-rays and observation. No broken bones or serious 'soft tissue' injuries were found and he was later released.
Before the retirement, things had been going well for the #3 team, with the car having started from pitlane after pitting for a tyre change at the end of the green flag lap.
In the first stint, a double by Lewis, the red, white and blue machine worked its way into the top-teb. Following Lewis, Christopher did two stints behind the wheel followed by Barron and then Lester. Barron worked the car as high as 12th before handing-over to Lester.
The veteran of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was able to make major strides during his first, late night stint and he climbed as high as eighth before handing things back over the Lewis.
A number of issues left the team with work to do heading into the morning after time was lost in the pits before the race ending incident brought things to a premature end.
"First, we are obviously happy that Shane was not more seriously injured,” team owner Steve Southard said. “It was a very violent impact. We are currently looking at what caused the accident. Richie is examining scenarios. Unfortunately, until we get the car to the shop and can properly exam every component and study the data, we can't be sure what happened to the car.
“As for the race, we put a strategy together to shuffle the driver line-up a little based on experience and when the drivers would get their first stint. Shane being the most experienced, we knew we wanted him to start. We put Bill in late in the day because he was the second most experienced and we felt he could go out for his first stint in the dark without any problem. Ted and Alex have less experience here or in these cars so we decided to have them run doubles in the daylight so they could be more comfortable when they had to get back in at night.
“Everyone went through their first couple of stints really well. I think if we had continued to run without problem we would have had a good result. We had a really great driver lineup but race situations present themselves and things happen.
“Unfortunately, a whole series of events happened and we'll never know what might have been. We just have never had that good of luck at Daytona. I am very happy looking ahead. We have a good driver combination in Shane and Bill and a car that works pretty well. I think we are going to have a good shot at doing well this year."