Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson along with newly crowned 2020 series champion Chase Elliott, look set to take part in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Rick Hendrick, the team owner for both drivers in NASCAR’s top series, revealed in Sunday’s post-race press conference at Phoenix International Raceway that Johnson and Elliott will run in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.
Elliott won the Season Finale 500, which was enough for him to claim his first Cup Series title, while Johnson, in his final full-season in top-level NASCAR competition — finished fifth in the race.
“Both of our guys, Chase and Jimmie, will be in the 24-hour race [at Daytona], so I’m looking forward to that,” Hendrick told reporters.
While Hendrick later admitted that he may have “jumped the gun” on the news, it’s understood an effort has been underway to field an all-star DPi entry, with 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud rumored as a third driver in the effort.
All three drivers are Chevrolet-backed pilots, with Pagenaud driving for Team Penske in the NTT IndyCar Series as well as the Michelin Endurance Cup races in Penske’s Acura ARX-05 program, which comes to a close next weekend at Sebring.
Elliott, meanwhile, confirmed to reporters that he’s committed to race the Rolex 24 but hasn’t yet signed a contract.
While the 24-year-old second-generation driver, the son of two-time Daytona 500 winner and former NASCAR champion Bill, would be making his sports car racing debut, Johnson has five previous starts in the Florida endurance classic, the most recent coming in 2011 in a GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Chevrolet DP.
His best finish came in 2008 with a runner-up overall finish alongside co-drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser.
Sportscar365 understands the planned ‘all-star’ effort would be in a Cadillac DPi-V.R fielded by Action Express Racing.
It would come alongside the team’s returning full-season Cadillac DPi of Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr in the top prototype class.
AXR team manager Gary Nelson told Sportscar365 in September that he had not ruled out running a second entry next year after running a single-car operation for the first time in the team’s history this year.
It’s unclear when an official announcement could be made on the likely effort.