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Lopez Joins Second AXR Cadillac Crew for Daytona

Action Express confirms No. 48 DPi return for IMSA enduros with Lopez joining crew…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jose Maria Lopez has been named in Action Express Racing’s No. 48 Cadillac DPi-V.R for the Rolex 24 at Daytona where he will team up with his fellow reigning FIA World Endurance champion Kamui Kobayashi. 

Lopez and Kobayashi, who won the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year with Mike Conway, have been confirmed in the additional AXR crew for next month’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.

Kobayashi will team up with seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller for the four Michelin Endurance Cup races that make up the No. 48 car’s program for next year.

Rockenfeller is stepping up to contest all of the Endurance Cup races after holding a Daytona-only role in 2021, while Simon Pagenaud is no longer with the team. 

Lopez, who is also a three-time World Touring Car champion, recently tested the Cadillac DPi-V.R at Daytona International Speedway ahead of his Rolex 24 debut.

His inclusion in the No. 48 Action Express lineup means that all three WEC champions will be on the Daytona entry list, with Conway confirmed to drive the Whelen-sponsored No. 31 Cadillac. 

“My experience in America is not huge,” said the Argentine driver. “I raced my first endurance event back in 2007 in the 12 Hours of Sebring, and from there, I always wanted to come back and race in America again.

“I love the way racing is and my teammates Kamui and Mike always tells me how much they enjoy racing in such a competitive category and series like IMSA.

“Driving with Jimmie Johnson is very special. As a big fan of motor racing, I’ve always followed NASCAR and Jimmie was my favorite driver. I can definitely say that I am a big fan. So, to share the car with him is a huge privilege.

“Regarding Mike, I have always watched him racing. His career is impressive and I’m looking forward to working and learning from him too.

“It will be great to continue as a teammate with my friend and brother Kamui. I have the honor to race and share a lot of time with him as teammates at Toyota.

“I know him very well as he knows me, so I am very happy to once again share a car in this very special race.”

Johnson, Kobayashi and Pagenaud finished eighth in the Endurance Cup standings this year.

Their best result was second place at the Daytona season-opener where the No. 48 Action Express Cadillac was the highest-finishing car from the GM brand.

Action Express will continue to receive support from a Hendrick Motorsports crew led by Chad Knaus during the 2022 IMSA season.

“We have a little more time to get up to speed this time for the Rolex 24 in January,” said AXR team principal Gary Nelson.

“The team showed a lot of promise last year, finishing second at the Rolex and showing strong pace at Sebring. We will be working closely with Rick Hendrick’s group led by Chad Knaus.

“Jose Maria is new to the car this year. He is a Le Mans 24 winner and WEC champion, and I am sure he will be up to speed very quickly when he steps in the Ally Cadillac.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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