Johnson expects Rolex 24 to be ‘one of the hardest ones yet’

Jimmie Johnson is back at the Rolex 24 after a 10-year absence. The seven-time Cup Series champion will participate in his eighth 24-hour race with some of the best drivers across motor sports.

Despite winning two more Cup Series titles since his last time at the Rolex 24, Johnson knows it won’t be a walk in the park when he takes the track at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 30.

“Well, I’m expecting the race to be long and grueling as it always is, and so many challenges thrown at teams, drivers, everybody in the race,” he said. “When you have three or four different divisions on track, it’s quite complicated just to navigate the track and stay out of trouble.”

Graybeard Jimmie Johnson showing some signs of old age – Chris Owens – IMS PHOTO

Johnson ran in the Rolex 24 in 2004, 2005 and during a five-year streak from 2007-2011. However, he said the 2021 race will be more taxing than previous events.

“One thing that’s a little different this year is the race start time is going to be much later in the afternoon,” Johnson said. “So, with the finish then being much later the next day, just the demand on everybody that’s going to be working the event is going to increase greatly and make it one of the hardest ones yet.”

The Rolex 24 also will reunite Johnson with Chase Elliott. While the two won’t be driving the same car, they are on the same Cadillac DPi-V.Rs manufacturing team. Elliott will be driving the No. 31, while Johnson will don No. 48 Ally gear again.

“It’s so great to see my relationship with Ally continue on,” Johnson said. “Not only will I have the great honor to drive in the Rolex 24 in a DPi Ally car, they’ll also be with me on the Indy Car program, as well. We’ve formed a bond and a relationship that’s going to last a long, long time. It’s a great honor to work for the company and represent them, and (I’m) looking forward to a very fun and exciting 2021.”

The Roar before the 24 will start on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET to determine qualifying. After the Roar, Johnson and his team will prepare for the 24-hour race at Daytona. The Rolex 24 starts Saturday, Jan. 30 at 3:40 p.m. ET and will end Sunday, Jan. 31 at 3:40 p.m. ET.

–Hendrick Motorsports–