"That was maybe one of the best races of my life," said Fisichella, who was able to execute a final-lap pass against Wolf Henzler's Porsche, after pulling door-to-door but failing to get by on each of the previous three laps.
It was the second consecutive victory in GTLM for Fisichella and Kaffer, who won two weeks ago at Road America.
"The last four laps I did everything I could do," Fisichella said. "I knew it was the last lap and I did all I could, braking for Turn 11. I was lucky because I had a good exit (but) I was quicker than him in the straight and it was very correct to be on the right-hand side. I made sure to be leading at the exit of Turn 12. It was very nice, fighting with Henzler, and a good end for us."
A full-course caution that provided a restart with six-and-a-half minutes left in the two-hour, 45-minute race proved a double-edged sword for Henzler and teammate Bryan Sellers.
The drivers of the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 had built a lead of more than 12 seconds but were running short on fuel. When Michael Christensen's Porsche went off course, it gave Team Falken the chance to conserve but wiped out their advantage in creating the four-lap shootout.
"Finally, I had nothing against him," Henzler said. "I didn't want to be unfair. I had to open the door and finally let him by. He had a good exit off the Oak Tree Turn (Turn 12) and I didn't want to go left–to-right. I took my line, hoping maybe we could stay next to each other. It was a good fight. Sometimes, you have to take a chance (on fuel)."
His teammate had no qualms with attempts to conserve fuel or how the finish came down.
"It was a great race to watch," Sellers said. "For sure, we wouldn't have made it to the finish without that yellow flag. Wolf drove a fantastic race. He saved a lot of fuel when we needed to. We were just not, at the end, fast enough to hold off the Ferrari."
The race didn't begin all that smoothly on the recently repaved and partially-widened VIR course. It proved not quite wide enough for Kaffer, who started on the pole but went off-track on the first lap and was forced to pit with a radiator full of grass.
"I picked up some marbles and went off onto the grass," Kaffer said. "But it was exciting in the car and we were happy to get (our position) back. It's an amazing feeling (to win two in a row). This is a victory for us which is important for the whole team."
Dirk Muller and John Edwards (BMW Team RLL) finished third as early leaders fell by the wayside.
It was a rough afternoon for GTLM points leaders. Antonio Garcia, teamed with Jordan Taylor in the Corvette Racing C7.R, finished seventh and owns a six-point lead over Dodge Viper SRT drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer, who were penalized twice on the way to a fifth-place showing Sunday.
Running concurrently, GT Daytona (GTD) class drivers Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron (Turner Motorsport BMW) held off Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari). Again the late-race caution came into play.
"I probably can't really say what I was thinking when the yellow came," Cameron said. "That was probably the worst thing that could have happened to us – to have a yellow that late in the race. The last thing we want is to be bunched up with everyone else. Fortunately, we got a good run out of the first corner and we were able to exhale from there."
Driver/actor Patrick Dempsey, who crashed during Saturday's practice and missed qualifying, teamed with Andrew Davis to finish third with their Porsche 911 GT after starting at the rear of the field in the Daytona Division.
"The guys rallied all day yesterday," Dempsey said. "There was a sense of pride and accomplishment from the guys. I don't think people realize how much of a team commitment this is."
Sunday's results created a five-way tie for the lead in driver's points with Cameron, the Porsche team of Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil, and the Ferrari team of Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell, who have led the standings since the beginning of the season.