NASCAR’s Le Mans seats go to Johnson, Rockenfeller, Button

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller and Jenson Button will drive the special Garage 56 car that will race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR champion, has lobbied onerous for a spot within the three-driver lineup for his former staff. He’d been ready for IndyCar and NASCAR schedules to be launched to make sure his availability, and was lastly confirmed Saturday forward of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’m tremendous thrilled — it’s been on the prime of my bucket listing to compete within the 24 Hours of Le Mans sometime,” Johnson stated. “To have this chance come, and to companion with all people and this driver lineup, is actually an unbelievable alternative and one which I’m grateful to be part of.”

Rockenfeller is a former Le Mans winner and has spent the final two years racing the Rolex at Daytona Worldwide Speedway in a Hendrick sports activities automotive alongside Johnson. He is additionally executed the majority of the testing on the mission and pushed the automotive at each on-track check and within the simulator.

Rockenfeller gained the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans GT Class, the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 2013 German DTM championship. He has pushed the automotive at each on-track check and spent numerous hours behind the wheel within the simulator.

“It has been an excellent journey up to now with the entire staff and mission,” Rockenfeller stated. “To be concerned as a driver from day one till now was already an excellent honor, and to now have Jimmie and Jenson alongside me as teammates in Le Mans is unbelievable.”

Button, the 2009 Components One world champion, was the shock decide, as most anticipated it might be four-time NASCAR champion and Corridor of Famer Jeff Gordon. Johnson had been actively recruiting Button, each drivers stated Saturday, however the 51-year-old Gordon was attempting to get again into racing form and even participated in an IMSA-sanctioned race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September.

“As a lifelong racing fan, I’ve all the time dreamed of racing sure automobiles, with and in opposition to sure drivers and competing in sure occasions,” Button stated. “In June, a lot of these goals will come true in a single occasion after I get to deliver NASCAR to the world stage alongside my friends Jimmie and Rocky for the one hundredth anniversary of essentially the most prestigious race on the earth.”

Gordon didn’t attend Saturday’s announcement at Daytona Worldwide Speedway as a result of he was ailing, however Hendrick Motorsports vp and basic supervisor Jeff Andrews stated Gordon was simply tremendous with the Storage 56 lineup.

“For the reason that starting of the Storage 56 mission, it has been our purpose to companion with the highest racers on the earth to signify us in Le Mans,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France stated. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is all the things we might have dreamed of — three elite drivers who’ve gained on the highest ranges of motorsports worldwide.

“As we have a good time the seventy fifth anniversary of NASCAR, we’re honored to have these world-class champions assist deliver the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race automotive to followers in Le Mans, and internationally.”

NASCAR will take its new Subsequent Gen automotive to Le Mans for the one hundredth anniversary of the race as a part of particular class that showcases know-how. Hendrick and Normal Motors have been tasked with the mission, however NASCAR has opened the info to all of the producers after others complained Storage 56 gave one group and one producer unfair entry to a automotive everybody continues to be studying.

The Subsequent Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is anticipated to be permitted for entry by l’Car Membership de l’Ouest (ACO) within the coming weeks to compete at Le Mans.

All three drivers will take part in subsequent week’s two-day check at Daytona Worldwide Speedway. Jordan Taylor, who at the moment competes within the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing, will function the backup driver and driver coach. Taylor gained the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Professional Class and has completed on the rostrum 4 occasions. He’s a four-time IMSA champion.


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