Johnson returning to IMSA enduros in AXR Cadillac

Jimmie Johnson will be returning to the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2022 with a revised driver line-up in the #48 Ally-backed Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Johnson returning to IMSA enduros in AXR Cadillac
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The entry finished runner-up in the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and went on to finish seventh, fifth and fourth in the remaining three rounds of IMSA’s championship-within-a-championship, the Michelin Endurance Cup.

Despite becoming the new team principal of the Toyota WEC squad, Kobayashi will return to join seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson in the Cadillac, and their full-time partner will be Mike Rockenfeller. The German was the fourth driver in the #48 at Daytona last January, but now graduates to the third-man role to replace Meyer Shank Racing-bound Simon Pagenaud.

For Daytona, this trio will be joined by Le Mans 24 Hours winner and WEC champion Jose Maria Lopez.

“It’s good to have Jimmie back leading the driver lineup in the Ally Cadillac for the four endurance events in 2022,” said Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing team manager. “We have a little more time to get up to speed this time for the Rolex 24 in January.

“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.”

Johnson, who will be making his ninth start in the Rolex 24, stated: “I really enjoyed driving with Action Express Racing last season,” Johnson said. “It’s great to have the opportunity to continue in IMSA with Ally, while working alongside Chad and other former HMS [Hendrick Motorsports] teammates.

“Knowing that we are committed to run all of the Endurance races in 2022 allows us to get in some extra testing and to be better prepared. It’s great to have Kamui and Mike back. And Jose Maria, with his experience, is also a great addition to the line-up.”

Kobayashi, who has twice won the Rolex 24 racing a Cadillac for Wayne Taylor Racing, commented: “We will come into 2022 with the goal of winning races. I know Jose Maria quite well as my teammate in the WEC with Toyota. He will need a little time to get used to the Cadillac DPi-V.R, but he will be a fast addition to the team.

“Mike knows the car and the tracks in America. It is good he will be with us for the season.

“We had a lot of lessons to learn in 2021, as a team, which only makes us more confident for 2022.”

“This will be my main program for 2022,” said Rockenfeller, a Le Mans, Rolex 24, Sebring, and Spa 24 winner. “It is an opportunity I am really looking forward to. After finishing second at Daytona last year, we would like to take that next step on the podium in January.

“Lopez is very experienced in prototype racing. He just won Le Mans and the WEC Championship, so he brings a lot of experience and speed to the team. I think we have all of the ingredients to have a strong, four-race season in 2022.”

For his part, Lopez observed: “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…

“My experience in America is not huge. 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 tell me how much they enjoy racing in such a competitive category and series like IMSA.”

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