Bryan Sellers was looking for a jeweler in victory lane at the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona to size a hard-earned timepiece to fit his wrist.
The co-driver of the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini had just received his Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona for winning the GT Daytona (GTD) class, but Sellers would have to wait until he got back home for the fitting.
The watch hasn’t been hard to find since then.
“I haven’t taken it off yet,” Sellers says. “I didn’t wait this long to let it sit in a cabinet.”
Sellers’ victory along with co-drivers Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli came in his 13th Rolex 24 At Daytona appearance. It was his fifth consecutive as a member of Paul Miller Racing and sixth Daytona appearance with the team in total.
His first with the team came back in 2011 when he combined with Bryce Miller, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell to finish second in the GT class in the No. 48 Porsche. That also was the team’s first Rolex 24 appearance.
Ten years later, Paul Miller Racing is finally a Rolex 24 winner also.
“We were second in 2011, in fact, I still have the trophy on my credenza,” says team owner Paul Miller. “We were third in 2018, when we won the [IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar] Championship, but we had never won as a team.
“It was a big deal. We knew there were quicker cars than us in the race that fortunately ran into some issues. We were very consistent and had a really good car.”
They knew going into the race that they’d have a good car. After all, Lamborghini came into the race looking for – and getting – its third consecutive Rolex 24 victory. This one came down to a battle between two Huracán GT3s, the No. 48 and the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini shared by John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Marco Mapelli, which wound up second.
“It’s no fluke that Lamborghini has won, now, three straight,” said Sellers. “For us, reliability was never really a concern. You don’t worry about, ‘Are you going to have some sort of drivetrain failure or parts failure or anything like that?’ What that allows you to do is move your focus away from that sort of preparation and on to just race-pace balance and execution of things. That certainly gives you a sense of confidence and trust in what you’re trying to do.”
Beyond the car itself, Miller had the utmost confidence in the team’s level of preparation, led by longtime team manager Mitchell Simmons and crew chief Garrett Crutchfield, and the quartet of drivers.
Sellers and Snow won the 2018 GTD title and also co-drove to victory in that year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts with Lewis. Caldarelli, meanwhile, has been the team’s Rolex 24 specialist in recent years.
“The continuity has just been tremendous,” Miller said. “We’re in the fourth year with Andrea, the fifth year with Bryan, and I think it was the fourth year with Madison also. Corey really has grown dramatically as a driver and had some huge success with us at the end of the (2019) season when he and Bryan were driving in some of the sprint races and also at Petit.
“We just felt going in like we had such a strong lineup that if we could just figure out ways to get it to the end, we had a real shot. It was a great effort from the driving perspective, and very satisfying, especially with all the continuity we’ve had.”
“I’ve said this over and over again, throughout my years,” he says. “Continuity – for me – is truly the key to this whole thing. When all the pieces are in place and you have the continuity, things tend to work a little bit easier, and they tend to run a little bit more smoothly. Things operate a little bit better.”
Or a lot better in the case of this team. The Rolex 24 victory was the latest “bucket list” item to go with the championship and wins at Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans in recent years. So, what’s next?
Well, for starters, there’s another Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory to pursue on March 21, as well as another GTD title to chase. Miller and Sellers know that’s not going to be easy, especially in the deepest of the four WeatherTech Championship classes, which had 18 entries from nine different manufacturers at Daytona.
A little further down the road is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 28. While Sellers did win that race in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in 2015, it’s one that’s missing so far from the Paul Miller Racing trophy case.
And while Sellers was trying to find somebody to size his new Rolex watch, a few feet away in Daytona’s victory lane, his team owner was quickly pointing out that they still need a win at Watkins Glen.
“One thing people probably don’t know about Paul is that he’s an ultimate competitor,” Sellers said. “He may not come across that way, but he races for one reason and it’s not to finish second. He races to win.
“Everyone wants to complete the endurance run and win all the endurance races. He’s won Petit, he’s won Sebring, he’s won Daytona and so now, Watkins Glen is the one that has eluded him. So, I know for Paul, he is already onto that.
“He’s thinking, ‘OK, great. We have Daytona. Everybody was happy, we checked that one off the list, so now we’ve got to get on to the next one.’ But that’s what I love. That’s what’s great. No win is really any more important than the last or the next.”
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.