Jimmie Johnson’s Teammate Expects the NASCAR Legend to be “Even Faster” in Rolex 24 Main Race

Published 01/27/2021, 8:45 AM EST
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)


Jimmie Johnson is aiming for his maiden Rolex 24 title and will join his teammates Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, and Mike Rockenfeller in the Action Express Racing’s No. 48 car for the iconic event this weekend.

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He already made an impressive start to his 2021 Rolex 24 campaign, in the first-ever qualifying event last weekend for the main race. The qualifying race saw just two of the four drivers from each team setting the pace for their squads. For the No. 48, Johnson joined Kobayashi, and they qualified in sixth place.

The start of qualifying was tough as the track was wet due to the rain, but Johnson took on the challenge. While even the more experienced drivers in such cars struggled, Johnson was impressive in his run.

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In the end, he managed to secure lap times just half-a-second slower than the leader and pole-sitter, Felipe Nasr, who is Chase Elliott‘s teammate in the No. 31 car and Johnson‘s Action Express Racing teammate.

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)

Jimmie Johnson earns high praise from champion teammate

Kobayashi, a two-time defending champion in the Rolex 24, expressed that Johnson’s performance really impressed him. Kobayashi confidently said that he expects Johnson to be even faster in the main event.

For this week we are very happy. Jimmie is working very hard. He’s made a big step this week. I think next week he will be even faster.”

The seven-time NASCAR champion showed his class in quite tough conditions. He was quite thankful for the opportunity to severely test himself.

I’m very thankful that the team put me in this position to start the race and qualify the Ally Cadillac. It put me in some positions I hadn’t been in before,” Johnson said.

Johnson highlights his learnings from Rolex 24 qualifying

He got to learn and adapt to different aspects of racing the sports car and getting used to the demands of the event. The qualifying stint gave him the chance to experiment with his car, understanding what works and does not for him.

It allowed me to understand the prerace procedures like fuel mapping pages, warming the tires up under caution, keep the carbon brakes hot. And things you mess with in the car. All of that while it is raining,” Johnson said further.

The 45-year-old admitted that he wanted to even faster than he was in qualifying. However, his biggest takeaways are the learnings from the event, ahead of the big race.

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be. But I stayed on the road and had a lot of valuable first-time experiences. Which was really helpful,” he added.

Winning the Rolex 24 this Sunday would be a big morale booster for the NASCAR legend ahead of his IndyCar Series debut, where he sticks to his iconic No. 48.

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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