Two-time IMSA GT Daytona class champion Christina Nielsen will join the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo lineup for next month’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, having been drafted in to replace Jackie Heinricher, who has sustained a back injury that will prevent her from driving in the season-opening race.
Nielsen joins the all-female driver lineup in Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz and Simona De Silverstro, with Legge and Heinricher slated to share driving duties for the balance of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
According to team statement, Heinricher has elected to “step away” from the cockpit after suffering a back injury during the off-season. She will continue her role as program leader for the Caterpillar-sponsored initiative.
“It is great to have another talented and experienced driver join the Heinricher Racing/MSR Caterpillar effort, so we are fortunate to be able to bring Christina on board,” said Heinricher.
“She is very talented and has accomplished a tremendous amount in her young career and will be a great fit with the team. It was a tough decision to step out but it’s what’s best for me, the drivers and the team. I’ll be right there with everyone from the pit stand and ready to get back in the car for the rest of the season.”
Nielsen was left without a full-season IMSA ride after Wright Motorsports was unable to secure sufficient funding to continue its GTD program with Porsche.
The Silver-rated Dane has claimed four class wins and 19 podiums over the last three years of GTD competition.
“The whole program that Jackie has put together is a great initiative and something that I’m very excited to be a part of,” said Nielsen.
“It is amazing what she has done with Caterpillar and bringing them into sports car racing. Mike [Shank] somewhat of a legend in the paddock and I have had the pleasure to race against him for many years.
“He runs a very professional program and they showed their strength in 2018 with a near championship. MSR is a team that you want to be with and I am grateful for the opportunity.”