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AXR Had Johnson “Contingency Plan” in Place for Sebring

Action Express Racing puts contingency plan into action for Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring…

Photo: Chris Owens/IMSA

Action Express Racing already had a contingency plan in place since the beginning of the year if Jimmie Johnson was unable to contest the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, according to team manager Gary Nelson.

As reported by Sportscar365 on Wednesday, the team confirmed Thursday that Jose Maria Lopez will take Johnson’s seat in the No. 48 Ally-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R for the second round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

It comes after scheduling issues that has prevented the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion from pulling double duty between Sebring and the NTT IndyCar Series round at Texas Motor Speedway the same weekend.

Johnson, who only contested the IndyCar road course events in 2021, is stepping up to a full-season effort this year.

“We have had this contingency plan in place since IndyCar announced their schedule and we saw that there would be conflict with their Texas event,” Nelson explained.

“It was really an easy decision to bring in Jose Maria. He ran with us at Daytona, did all the testing leading up to the Rolex, so slotting him in was a no brainer.

“He and Kamui are running the WEC race as well. But, they are fit, and I think the extra laps at Sebring can only help us come race day for our Ally Cadillac effort in the 12 hour race.

“We will miss Jimmie and wish him all the best in Texas.”

Johnson is expected to return to the Hendrick Motorsports-assisted No. 48 Cadillac for the remaining two Endurance Cup rounds of the season at Watkins Glen International and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

“I was really looking forward to going back and racing the Ally Cadillac at Sebring,” Johnson said.

“We had a great run there last season and were in contention for the win for most of the race.

“Jose Maria is an excellent driver and he will do great. I know the team’s experienced and they can get the Ally Cadillac up on the podium – hopefully the top step.”

More Racing at Sebring “A Plus” for Lopez

Lopez will get his second start in the IMSA DPi ranks after making his WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at Daytona.

The reigning FIA World Endurance champion, like co-drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller, will all be pulling double duty between the 1000-mile WEC race at Sebring and the 12-hour WeatherTech Championship enduro.

“I was planning to be in Sebring anyway, unfortunately Jimmie isn’t able to do both IndyCar and IMSA at the same time,” Lopez said.

“I will be there for the first WEC race. We race on Friday with Toyota and then I will cross the garage and race on Saturday in the Ally Cadillac.

“I am really thankful for the opportunity to drive again with Action Express Racing and hopefully me, Mike and Kamui can deliver a good result.”

Lopez added: “It was great to be a part of the Ally Cadillac team at Daytona 24. I was very proud of the team effort and how Jimmie, Mike, and Kamui drove in the race.

“Things just didn’t go our way. We had good pace. It was my first experience at Daytona and racing in America. It was much better than what I expected. I was happy with my performance in the car.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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