AXR with extra car at Daytona

The Action Express Racing will enter an extra car at the Daytona 24 hours next month.

The team has made a deal with Hendrick Motorsports, collecting something of an all-star team of drivers for the Cadillac DPi car.

None other than recently retired from NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson will lead the effort. He will be joined by Simon Pagenaud, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller.

This isn’t the first time for Jimmie Johnson to participate in the Daytona 24 hours. the 7 -time NASCAR champion has raced 7 times before, but haven’t done so since 2011. He was racing the somewhat slower Daytona Prototype cars, who was about 7 seconds slower per lap, than the current DPi cars.

Simon Pagenaud has also competed in the race 7 times before, but that is the 7 most recent editions of the race. He has run in LMP2, GTLM, DP and DPi material at the circuit. He was the third driver at Acura Team Penske for the last three years – the team that he races for in the NTT IndyCar Series – but since they no longer participate in IMSA racing, and all the new Acura teams already had all their seats taken, the Frenchman was allowed to go elsewhere.

Photo: Jimmie Johnson

Kamui Kobayashi has participated in the race twice – and won it twice. The Japanese driver raced for Wayne Taylor Racing, winning the 2019 edition overall with Fernando Alonso, Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, while he repeated it in 2020 with van der Zande once again, plus Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon. He was crowned FIA WEC World Champion just a few weeks ago, having raced for Toyota Gazoo Racing for many years, following his departure from Formula 1.

Mike Rockenfeller is a true Daytona veteran. He has run the race 13 timers so far, and been on the podium 6 times. He won the 2010 edition overall for Action Express, where he shared the car with Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Ryan Dalziel. The four most recent years was as the third driver at Corvette Racing in GTLM, where he finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. 2020 was a sabbatical for him, so he is very fired up for 2021.

The car will, of course, run number 48, since that number is inexplicably linked to Jimmie Johnson. There will be Ally logos and colours on the car, just like we saw in his past few seasons in NASCAR. The drivers will do a two-day test this coming week, so get can get used to the car.

The team will also enter their regular car, with Whelen Engineering sponsorship, with Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway behind the wheel.

The Rolex 24 at Daytona will run on 30-31 January, with the official testing being run one week prior.

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