Rolex 24 crossovers: Here are the NASCAR and IndyCar stars racing Daytona this month

Rolex 24 IndyCar NASCAR
Brian Cleary/

For the second consecutive year, the defending series champions of the NASCAR and IndyCar series will be racing the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

And Chase Elliott and Scott Dixon are just the start of this year’s star-studded list of auto racing crossovers flocking to the 59the edition sports car classic at Daytona International Speedway.

This year’s Rolex 24 also will feature a seven-time Cup Series champion, the 2018 Daytona 500 winner, the 2020 IndyCar rookie of the year and a contingent of IndyCar veterans who have 11 championships and eight Indianapolis 500 victories.

Here’s a rundown of the drivers the country’s top stock-car and single-seat circuits who will be racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener – and why some of them are here:


AJ Allmendinger: Before his first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Allmendinger will be making his 15th start in the Rolex 24. His best was an overall victory in the 2012 race with Michael Shank, whom he is reuniting with this year. Allmendinger, who moves back to the top prototype class for the first time in five years, will be driving the No. 60 Acura of Meyer Shank Racing, pairing with Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla in a DPi entry that is packed with talent as the team makes the transition to the Honda-affiliated brand.

AJ Allmendinger at the 2019 Rolex 24, which he raced an Acura in GTD for Meyer Shank Racing. He will race the event in DPi with the team this year (IMSA).

Austin Dillon: The Richard Childress Racing driver missed the NASCAR Cup Series race on the road course at Daytona International Speedway last year after testing positive for COVID-19. With NASCAR’s premier series slated to return to the layout next month (in place of Auto Club Speedway), Dillon wanted real-world experience – so why not hop into the No. 51 LMP2 of Rick Ware Racing? This will be his first Rolex 24, but Dillon does have some (minor) has some sports-car experience, running a Camaro (with Kaz Grala and Tyler Reddick) against a fleet of spec Miatas in a club-level race at Circuit of the Americas in December

Chase Elliott: The current king of NASCAR road racing continues his Cup championship tour of another racing series, adding sports cars to an offseason that also has included Super Late Models and a debut on the dirt of the Chili Bowl. Though he might be a Rolex 24 novice in the Action Express No. 31 Cadillac, the IMSA community already has mad respect for Elliott’s road-racing skills. When IMSA’s GT divisions detoured to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval last fall, Corvette Racing champion Jordan Taylor credited Elliott’s work on the GM Racing simulator with helping the team fine-tune setups for the track’s grip level.

Jimmie Johnson: The race that unofficially begins Johnson’s post-NASCAR career has been on his bucket list for a long time. The seven-time Cup champion grew up a fascinated fan of the Rolex 24 because endurance racing contained echoes of the off-road desert racing in his youth. This will be Johnson’s eighth Rolex 24 start but first since 2011. Paired with Simon Pagenaud (a sports car ace before winning the Indy 500), two-time Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi and 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Mike Rockenfeller, Johnson has abundantly talented teammates in the (appropriately secured) No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that could bring him his first Rolex.


Oliver Askew: Unceremoniously cut loose by Arrow McLaren SP after a rookie season in which he showed flashes before being sidelined by a concussion, the Jupiter, Florida, native will be running in the new LMP3 division with Riley Motorsports. The Rolex 24 debut of Askew, 24, will be an opportunity for the 2019 Indy Lights champion to showcase his talents while seeking his next full-time ride.

Sebastien Bourdais: Headed back to a full-time IndyCar ride next season with AJ Foyt Racing, the Frenchman will be making his 12th start in the Rolex 24, which he won in 2014. The four-time Champ Car champion will have another shot at an overall victory, pairing with Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval on the No. 5 Cadillac of Mustang Sampling Racing.

Helio Castroneves: For the first time in 20 years, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner will be racing outside Team Penske – with Meyer Shank Racing in the IndyCar Series and with Wayne Taylor Racing for the Rolex 24. After winning the 2020 DPi championship with Ricky Taylor in an emotional capstone for both his sports car and racing career, Castroneves, 45, will remain in an Acura as WTR makes a manufacturer switch.

IMSA Road Atlanta Penske
Helio Castroneves celebrated after winning the pole position at Michelin Road Atlanta last fall (IMSA).

Scott Dixon: The six-time and defending IndyCar champion was a big-game hunter last year, winning the Rolex 24 and Petit Le Mans as an endurance driver for Wayne Taylor Racing. This year, he will be racing for the home team as Chip Ganassi Racing returns to sports cars with the No. 01 Cadillac. It’s Dixon’s 18th (!) start in the Rolex 24, which includes three overall victories and a GTLM triumph.

Colton Herta: BMW is scaling back its GTLM effort, but the manufacturer still found a spot for the rising IndyCar star with the GTD entry of Turner Motorsport. That will pair Herta, 20, with Bill Auberlen, 51, who became the winningest driver (61 victories) in IMSA history last year. After winning the 2019 Rolex 24 and setting the fastest lap in GTLM, Herta will be adjusting to being in the slowest division.

J.R. Hildebrand: It’s the Rolex 24 debut for the perennial Indy 500 veteran, racing an Audi R8 for NTe Sport in the GTD class. The articulate Californian (whose Twitter analysis and musings on racing make him a must-follow) was testing this week with the team at Circuit of the Americas.

Ed Jones: Announced Wednesday as the new full-season driver of the No. 18 Dallara-Honda fielded by Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Racing, Jones will be driving the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 in the GTD division (pairing with former IndyCar winner Ryan Briscoe).

Juan Pablo Montoya: He will be making his first IndyCar start in nearly four years when he returns to the 105th Indy 500 in May with Arrow McLaren SP, but the two-time Brickyard winner mostly will be focusing on sports cars this year. He’ll race an Acura in the Rolex 24 and in the Michelin Endurance Cup with Meyer Shank Racing and also in the WEC (aiming at an elusive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and triple crown) with DragonSpeed.

Simon Pagenaud: Given how he established himself as an IndyCar standout at Team Penske, it’s easy to overlook that Pagenaud was regarded as one of the hottest sports car prospects in the world just over a decade ago. A 2010 champion of the American Le Mans Series, Pagenaud will be making his eighth Rolex 24 start, paired with Johnson (whose brother, Jesse, is a close family friend of the Frenchman) in the Action Express No. 48.

Alexander Rossi: After a largely forgettable 2020 season, the 2016 Indy 500 winner is amped to kick off the new year with a new Rolex 24 ride. Making his fourth start in the Daytona opener, Rossi will begin a season as the new endurance driver for Wayne Taylor Racing. He was in Sebring this week, testing on consecutive days in the No. 10 Acura and his familiar No. 27 Dallara-Honda of Andretti Autosport.

Rinus Veekay: The 2020 IndyCar rookie of the year was especially strong on road courses, winning a pole and finishing third at Indianapolis last October. For his Rolex 24 debut, the talented Dutchman will be in LMP2 with the No. 81 ORECA of DragonSpeed USA, whose lineup includes the versatile veteran Ben Hanley.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top

SuperMotocross Rankings season opener
Align Media

As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.

Dylan Ferrandis finished on the podium in his first race back after experience a concussion in Supercross Round 4 at Houston. – Align Media

It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.

Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.

Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.

MORE: Jett Lawrence wastes no time, wins first 450 race

After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.

Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.

Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.

450 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Jett Lawrence (26) 93.33 NA
2. Chase Sexton (1) 92.36 1 -1
3. Dylan Ferrandis (19) 89.00 NA
4. Adam Cianciarulo (8) 82.89 5 1
5. Aaron Plessinger (5) 81.20 9 4
6. Justin Hill (9)
Not racing MX
79.75 8 2
7. Ken Roczen (4)
injured | Not racing MX
79.13 3 -4
8. Jose Butron (30) 75.67 NA
9. Lorenzo Locurcio (29) 75.00 NA
10. Eli Tomac (2)
74.50 2 -8
11. Dean Wilson (10)
Not racing MX
72.88 7 -4
12. Cooper Webb (3) 71.17 6 -6
13. Jerry Robin (32) 70.33 NA
14. Justin Barcia (6)
70.00 4 -10
15. Kyle Chisholm (15) 65.36 11 -4
16. Dante Oliveira (36) 65.00 NA
17. Shane McElrath (11)
Not racing MX
63.63 12 -5
18. Ryan Surratt (38) 63.33 NA
19. Josh Hill (13)
Not racing MX
62.38 13 -6
20. Justin Starling (20)
Not racing MX
62.13 19 -1

Motocross 450 Points

A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.

Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.

Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.

Motocross 250 Points

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan scored a second-place finish in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.

Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.

250 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Hunter Lawrence (1) 89.56 2 1
2. Justin Cooper (42) 84.67 NA
3. RJ Hampshire (3) 83.67 3 0
3. Haiden Deegan (4) 83.67 8 5
5. Jo Shimoda (16) 82.33 7 2
6. Guillem Farres (46) 79.33 NA
7. Levi Kitchen (6) 79.11 5 -2
8. Max Anstie (5) 77.83 12 4
9. Max Vohland (8) 77.50 14 5
10. Enzo Lopes (10) 76.00 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg (13) 74.25 16 5
12. Carson Mumford (19) 71.22 17 5
13. Jordon Smith (7) 70.56 9 -4
14. Ryder DiFrancesco (48) 70.33 NA
15. Chris Blose (12) 67.00 13 -2
16. Chance Hymas (27) 66.00 19 3
17. Tom Vialle (9) 65.78 18 1
18. Jett Reynolds (55) 63.33 NA
19. Michael Mosiman (28) 62.33 20 1
20. Garrett Marchbanks (64) 59.00 NA

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Eli Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage