American Legion driver Jimmie Johnson parked his #48 Carvana/American Legion Honda with Chip Ganassi Racing for two weekends to take a long drive in a Cadillac.
He makes his ninth appearance in the famous Rolex 24 at Daytona IMSA Sports Car Race for Action Express Racing.
Johnson spent last weekend at Daytona International Speedway in the “Roar Before the 24.” He raced this weekend alongside Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi along with No. 48 Ally Cadillac, including the 100-minute qualifying race that formed the grid for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Johnson and Kobayashi finished third and will start from that position in Saturday’s acclaimed Sports Car endurance race.
Johnson and Kobayashi will be joined in the 24-hour race by teammates Mike Rockenfeller from Germany and Jose Maria Lopez from Argentina.
Johnson qualified fourth for the qualifying race in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-VR thanks to a qualifying time of 1:34.941. Johnson put in a solid stint and had the car in second before handing it over to Kobayashi on lap 20.
“We have some work to do with the balance of the car,” Johnson said. “But (we have) more laps for me and more laps together as a group. We had a great strategy to finish third, so a good day. We look forward to doing more laps later in the week, using the data from this race to learn more and then get racing.”
Kobayashi, who is looking for his third Rolex 24 title and who helped Ally to finish second in the Rolex 24 last year, had the number 48 Cadillac in fourth with about 15 minutes to go. From there, he pushed hard to put the car in the top three as time ran out. It finally happened when the No. 31 Whelen Engineering team car had to make one last pit stop for fuel and Kobayashi finished third.
“I think it’s good to start P3 for the 24-hour,” said Kobayashi. “It really means nothing in a 24-hour race. But it is clear where we will start. I think this was a good time to study for the 24 hour. I think we still need to work on it a bit (the car) and we’ll see where we are at the end. But I think we’re in good shape so far.”
Next weekend, Kobayashi looks set to win his third Rolex 24 (2019 and 2020), while Rockenfeller hopes to take his second Rolex 24 win (2010). Rockenfeller was part of the Action Express team that won twice around the clock in 2010. Action Express Racing won the Rolex 24 in 2010 and 2014.
Johnson aims for his first Rolex 24 win.
“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the most important races in the world,” Johnson said last year before his first attempt at the race. “It is such a challenging event for both the team and the driver and requires such a high level of concentration. It’s just such a fun and unique race to participate in.”
Johnson is part of Action Express at the endurance races that are scheduled. He will be a full-time entrant in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in the No. 48 Carvana/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, including the 106th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
Johnson won a record seven NASCAR Cup Series championships. He also won 83 NASCAR Cup races, including two Daytona 500s, during his 20-year career.