Action Express Racing and Hendrick Motorsports will join forces to co-enter an all-star Cadillac DPi-V.R line-up for next month’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The No. 48 Cadillac will feature seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who recently retired from Hendrick’s NASCAR program to focus on the NTT IndyCar Series. Johnson will be joined by double Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi, Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, and DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller, who helped deliver AXR’s first Rolex 24 win.
Ally, Hendrick’s NASCAR partner and longtime sponsor of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet Cup entry, will debut on the 5.5-liter V8-powered Cadillac prototype for next week’s test at Daytona with the foursome, and make use of the number traditionally found on the championship-winning GT Daytona cars of Paul Miller Racing.
“We’ve been talking to Jimmie about running with us for many months,” said Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing team manager. “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 setup knowledge and speed to the car. We won the Rolex 24 with Mike in 2010, so he is familiar with how we operate. I would like to thank fellow IMSA competitor Paul Miller for sharing the 48 number. We’re looking at having a great 10-days in Daytona starting with the Roar Before the 24.”
Johnson was a regular competitor at the Rolex 24 through 2011, earning a best result of second overall.
“The Rolex 24 at Daytona is one of the marquee races in the world,” he said. “It’s such a challenging event for both team and driver and requires such a high level of concentration throughout. It’s just such a fun and unique race to compete in. This will be the first time I’ve raced with Action Express and have been very impressed with the team and its preparation. I’m also excited to have Ally on board and to be co-driving with Simon, Kamui, and Mike who are three world class drivers with experience in this race and the DPi class. I’ve finished second in this event, so I’m looking forward to trying to get on the top step in 2021.”
Building upon the relationship with Johnson and Hendrick was key, according to Ally CMO Andrea Brimmer.
“We can’t wait to see Jimmie and his teammates run the Daytona road course in the No. 48 Cadillac DPi-V.R,”’ she said. “We are happy to continue supporting him as he tries to conquer another legendary race at this legendary track.”
The No. 48 will join AXR’s full-time No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener. Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway will share the driving duties.
Hendrick is no stranger to IMSA, or racing prototypes that represent a General Motors brand. Although it only earned one win in IMSA’s famed GTP era, Hendrick Motorsports thrilled fans with its insanely fast Corvette GTP. Making use of a volcanic turbocharged V6 engine – in power and volatility – mounted to a Lola-built chassis, the NASCAR team’s presence starting in the mid-1980s added to a rich time in IMSA’s long history. Switching to a naturally-aspirated V8 cured most of the explosions, but came at a cost in power and speed against its more reliable, turbocharged rivals.