NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson has been selected as the driver for the 24 Hours of Le Mans Garage 56 entry

It shouldn’t come as a shock that Jimmie Johnson will be part of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was officially introduced on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway prior to this year’s IMSA Rolex 24 running as one of the drivers that will be part of Garage 56’s entry in this year’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

The entry itself is being built and tested by Hendrick Motorsports, and Johnson was a longtime driver with the team winning 86 races and 7 Cup titles over 18 seasons until he retired at the end of 2020. Johnson also helped convince team owner Rick to step Hendrick out of his comfort zone. Play in NASCAR and enter the world of sports car racing.

After spending two seasons racing in the IndyCar Series, Johnson returned to NASCAR as co-owner of the Legacy Motor Club, a NASCAR team that features NASCAR legend Richard Petty as owner.

Johnson will be part of NASCAR racing this season at Legacy Motor Club entries starting at the Daytona 500 next month. When he was announced as the team’s new co-owner last November at Phoenix Raceway, Johnson made no secret of the fact that racing at Le Mans is something he wants to do very badly.

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“I am very happy to be here and to be a part of this program.” Johnson said at a press conference at the Daytona Media Center. “When Rick called, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity. It was my big dream to go to La Mans and compete and be at La Mans and experience what it’s all about and have the experience that I had here.

“I know how special this event is, and I’m sad I’m not around today. But to know we’re going to Le Mans with this great group of drivers, this great team, the collaboration between GM and NASCAR and everyone involved. I mean, it’s a really special and special opportunity.

For Le Mans, Johnson will team up with 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller,

“Well, I can only confirm what Jimmy said,” said Rockenfeller. “It’s, you know, such an amazing group of partners on this project to be involved from day one. It’s a great honor, a lot of fun. And yeah, I can’t wait, you know, right now to share the car with these two, especially my young mates,” he added, laughing.

The third member of the team will be Formula One champion Jenson Button.

“Yeah, I mean, this is a complete surprise. I was on the way to Disneyland, and I took the wrong way,” Button said with a laugh. “No, it’s really special to be here. Yes, seriously, I’ve always considered myself a racing driver. I’m finishing up my Formula One career, I’m looking for new challenges and it’s definitely an exciting challenge to work alongside these two.”

The Garage 56 class does not actually compete for victory, but is a class authorized by the race organiser, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), as an additional entry that tests new technologies.

The NASCAR Next Gen car is backed by Hendrick’s longtime backers, Chevrolet, and has already undergone extensive testing. The data from those tests was shared with other teams to deny Hendrick any kind of advantage to their cars competing in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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The entry’s primary purpose is to showcase NASCAR to the world and marks a return to Le Mans for NASCAR. The sport’s founder Bill France entered the car market at Le Mans in 1976 after reaching an agreement with the event’s organizers. Two NASCAR race cars, a Dodge Charger owned and driven by Hershel McGriff, and Johnny Donlavey owned a Ford Torino driven by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson, competed in the Grand International class negotiated by NASCAR and the ACO. The race began on June 12, 1976, but unfortunately NASCAR’s time at Le Mans ended early as both cars did not finish; Dodge lost an engine on the second lap, and a transmission broke in Turin in the eleventh hour.

All three drivers will take part in a two-day test scheduled at Daytona next week. This will be the second time Johnson has driven the new car. His first chance was last week in Phoenix as part of a regulation test.

“It’s a much different vehicle than I remember,” Johnson said. “You know, from a driveline perspective and the overall feel change, the stance of the car. I’m not used to cars that drive in the front, but not with the lower spoiler on the car.

“It’s just a different animal. So I’m so thankful I got to have those laps. It felt weird, but it felt like hell so close to home… She was within six laps, you know, up there on pace with the, so it was good.” back.”

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