Jimmie Johnson’s Rolex 24 Teammate Reveals NASCAR Legend’s Incredible Gesture Towards Him in 2011

Published 01/29/2021, 9:30 AM EST
BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 06: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)


The Rolex 24 at Daytona is now just a day away and teams will be strategizing on winning the endurance racing event. Action Express Racing’s Jimmie Johnson and co will start 6th in their class after the qualifying session earlier this week.

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Ahead of the event, Johnson’s teammate Mike Rockenfeller took the time to speak in an interview. He there mentioned that Johnson had actually sent him an email, checking on the former’s health after his huge crash in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Rockenfeller said, “To get that email from a legend like he is, it really meant a lot. When I got it, I was so surprised.”

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Didn’t know Rockenfeller prior to sending that email, says Jimmie Johnson

“To me, that showed the mentality of America. The racing spirit they have here. Watching other categories, having the respect for each other. Obviously, it showed what kind of guy Jimmie is.”

Johnson added his own thoughts and said, “My time around endurance racing in the U.S. just showed me the community that exists here and really reminded me a lot of the way I grew up racing motocross. And I didn’t know Mike prior to sending that email, but when I saw the crash, it just struck me.”

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 20: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, poses for a portrait after winning the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

The 2021 Rolex 24 will be Johnson’s eighth appearance in the event. Over the years, he also has become familiar with Rockenfeller’s work profile. Regardless, it certainly was a heartwarming gesture from the seven-time Cup Series champion back in the day.

“I just could not believe that he survived that. And then knowing we had mutual friends, I was able to track down his address and send him an email just checking on him and saying hello and introducing myself.”

Rockenfeller and Johnson have paired up alongside others at the Rolex 24

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“So to have this all now come full circle and share a car in the Rolex 24 is really cool for me for many reasons,” concluded Johnson.

BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 11: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, gestures while on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Alongside Kamui Kobayashi and Simon Pagenaud, the team will look to make an impact in the all-important race. With a collective wealth of experience, the No.31 Cadillac could certainly emerge as a frontrunner, despite starting sixth.

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That said, it is always satisfying to see mutual respect and understanding between two racing drivers. They will hope to apply it to full effect, as they attempt to win the 2021 Rolex 24 crown.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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