Jimmie Johnson will race Cadillac in Rolex 24 with Pagenaud, Kobayashi at Action Express

Jimmie Johnson Rolex 24
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson will open his first year of semi-retirement by racing the Rolex 24 at Daytona as part of an Action Express Racing lineup revealed Friday that should be among the best in the field.

The seven-time NASCAR champion will be paired with Simon Pagenaud, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller in the marquee IMSA sports car event considered the unofficial opener of the racing season. The 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway draws drivers from all over the world in a quest to collect the Rolex watches awarded to the winners.

Action Express will field a special, second Cadillac DPi-V.R for the star-studded lineup. It will be the No. 48, Johnson’s number, and sponsored by Ally, which funded the final two seasons of his NASCAR career. The entry is being fielded in conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports.

“The Rolex 24 at Daytona is one of the marquee races in the world,” said Johnson, who called his Rolex teammates “three world-class drivers.”

Johnson will be making his eighth Rolex start and first since 2011. He never has won the Rolex 24 but was part of the runner-up team in both 2005 and 2008.

Pagenaud, an IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, raced the Rolex 24 for Team Penske the past three years and is an accomplished sports car veteran. Kobaysahi has won the Rolex 24 the last two years with Wayne Taylor Racing in a Cadillac, and Rockenfeller won the 2010 Rolex in an Action Express prototype and later that year won at Le Mans.

“I think we have a big chance to win,” Kobayashi said. “Jimmie is a NASCAR legend. I am looking forward to racing with him. Simon has a lot of experience in the U.S., and he has endurance experience along with all of his IndyCar success. Mike has a lot of time in fast technical cars.”

The No. 48 entry will test the Daytona road course next week and preparations for the Jan.29-31 Rolex begin a week before the race.

Johnson has retired from full-time NASCAR competition but is rapidly filling his 2021 schedule. He’ll be an IndyCar rookie for Chip Ganassi Racing on the street and road courses and has said he’d like to race sports cars.

He’s expected to be joined at the Rolex by reigning NASCAR champion Chase Elliott, who has also said he is entering the endurance race. Elliott is expected to be in the primary car for Action Express, the team owned by Jim France, leader of the family that owns both NASCAR and IMSA. Action Epxress fields a full-time DPi entry for Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr, and its former endurance driver, Filipe Albuquerque, has joined Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2021 season.

It was Rick Hendrick who initially, and accidentally, revealed after the NASCAR season finale last month that Johnson and Elliott planned to enter the Rolex. In the Action Express lineup reveal, the team said the No. 48 entry was “in concert with 13-time NASCAR Cup Series Champions Hendrick Motorsports.”

Chad Knaus, the seven-time championship-winning crew chief for Johnson, has moved into a management role at Hendrick and had taken a new interest in the sports car series. He was in the IMSA garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway and attended the endurance race at Sebring last month.

“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.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.