DAYTONA BEACH — Just after days of tests and tuning, the laps will at last begin to count.
The clock for the 59th functioning of the Rolex 24 will get started at 3:40 p.m. Saturday, as 49 automobiles from 5 distinctive classes will struggle not only each individual other, but Daytona’s 3.56-mile Road Program for a chance to gain the coveted Rolex observe.
“I’ve knocked on the door a pair situations in this race,” explained Felipe Nasr, whose No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac will direct the subject to inexperienced. “We anticipate to go for the earn … I feel we proved that final weekend.”
The annual 2 times-all around-the-clock race will be run with a constrained group owing to COVID-19 restrictions, and though the pre-race pomp and pageantry could be toned down, the real racing could be the most competitive in Rolex 24 historical past.
“This subject is so stacked,” reported 7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who will drive the opening stint in the No. 48 Cadillac DPi. “It truly is been a great journey to get to this point.”
Johnson and defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, who will co-generate the No. 31 device, are just two of racing’s superstars who will make up this year’s field.
Former Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud will all be in cars a lot more than able of profitable, as will longtime NASCAR and Rolex 24 Road Course ringer AJ Allmendinger.
“It really is spectacular to see the expertise, remarkable to see degree of this field,” said Pagenaud, who will generate the No. 48 Cadillac with Johnson, two-time defending Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi and longtime sports activities-car ace Mike Rockenfeller.
“In the DPi class, it feels like an IndyCar race for 24 hrs. The GT course is the identical. It’s just all incredibly remarkable.”
See the entry listing:2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona beginning grid
Cadillac has dominated this race of late, successful four in a row. The Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Cadillac led a pair of techniques on Thursday, and was second on the speed charts Friday. That car will commence seventh in Ganassi’s return to IMSA just after a year absent.
“I’ve constantly experienced a comfortable spot in my coronary heart for this race, I love coming down below,” reported Ganassi, who is again in the Prototype course this period soon after fielding a Ford in the GT plan from 2016-19. “This race is a fantastic harbinger of spring … it kicks off the racing season for us.”
It really is the official start of Daytona’s racing period as effectively.
This weekend kicks off a hectic 5 months at the Speedway, together with back-to-back NASCAR weekends, the Daytona 500 and Daytona Supercross.
For now, however, all eyes are on the sports activities-vehicles, which take center stage Saturday afternoon. Of program, that’s just the 1st phase.
“It is really going to be fascinating to see how it goes when we get into the evening,” Pagenaud explained with a smile. “That is the place we’ll have some action, as normal. It really is tricky to envision which way this thing is going to go.”