When Jimmie Johnson, one of NASCAR’s most accomplished drivers, retired from the sport at the end of the 2020 season, he quickly began looking for more challenges. Before the final race of his stock car career, the six-time champion had already signed a two-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to race in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2021-2022 seasons.
In preparation for that journey, Johnson will start off the year by competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener on January 30,31 marks the beginning of the season for race fans and a chance to rate their favorite drivers. You can also visit bet-colorado.com for more ranking and entertainment options.
Johnson will be making his eighth Rolex 24 start and the first since 2011. He will be teamed with Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller and two-time defending Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi in the he No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing team manager, spoke about how each competitor will bring something unique to the team.
“We’ve been talking to Jimmie about running with us for many months. It all came together in November with the support of Hendrick Motorsports and their tremendous partner, Ally. Jimmie has a lot of experience at Daytona, not only on the oval, but turning into the infield as well. Simon brings a lot of endurance experience and Kamui adds a wealth of car set-up knowledge and speed to the car. We won the Rolex 24 with Mike in 2010, so he is familiar with how we operate. We’re looking at having a great 10 days in Daytona starting with the Roar Before the 24.”
Johnson, whose best finish in the event was runner-up twice, in 2005 and 2008, said, “It’s just a really neat opportunity for me to still have an association with Ally. Mr. (Rick) Hendrick will be involved to a certain degree. To drive for Action, to have this opportunity to compete with Kamui, with Simon and with Mike, it’s just such a unique opportunity and one I’m really proud to be a part of.’’
He was also impressed with how meticulous Action Express Racing was when putting the team together.
“I watched them take their time and be very methodical about how we’d all fit together,’’ Johnson said. “And of course, you have to meet all these criteria to be on the short list, but long story short, they were very intentional about us four together, and I think that’s why we feel the possibility is here and that we do truly have an opportunity to compete for the win.’’
The action will begin on Jan. 22-24 when the teams participate in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session. This year’s event includes a new feature, the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race which will set the starting grid for the Rolex 24.