Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. have entered the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
Johnson will again team with 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and international sports car standout Kamui Kobayashi for not only Sebring, but the three remaining 2021 races that make up the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season. The Action Express Racing (AXR) entry finished second in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. After Sebring the AXR team will also compete in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 27; and the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 9.
“I had such a great experience at the Rolex 24 At Daytona finishing second in the Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R that I want to continue and run the rest of the IMSA long events,” said Johnson, who retired from NASCAR racing after 2020 but will work the Michelin Endurance Cup events in around his schedule as a new part-time driver in the NTT IndyCar Series. “The whole experience working with the Action Express Racing team, sharing the Ally Cadillac with Simon, Kamui and Mike (Rockenfeller) just made me want to do more racing in the series. The Cadillac DPi-V.R is such a great car to drive. I can’t wait to turn some laps at Sebring, The Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“Ally was open to the idea, so we are committing to the remaining IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events. It will be a busy year adding these races to my IndyCar commitments, but I am really looking forward to it.”
Pagenaud, too, will fit in the WeatherTech Championship endurance events around his full-season IndyCar commitments. It’s a role the Frenchman is familiar with, having been an added driver the past three seasons at Daytona, Sebring and Michelin Raceway.
“This is exciting news to be part of the Ally Cadillac Action Express effort in the full IMSA endurance championship.” Pagenaud said. “It’s so great to be able to continue to perform in sports cars, which is where it all began for me, and also prepare myself even better for my IndyCar campaign with Team Penske.
“Finishing second in Daytona left us with a taste for more. I’m looking forward to being on the grid at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta for the big ones with Jimmie and Kamui.”
Kobayashi, the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship champion, was also a member of the Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winning team in 2019 and 2020. He raced in the WEC’s 1000 Miles of Sebring in 2019 but has yet to compete on the two remaining Michelin Endurance Cup circuits.
“I am excited to keep racing with Jimmie, Simon and the Action Express Racing team,” Kobayashi said. “There will be some new tracks for me, but I think I will be able to learn the new circuits pretty easily. I will be studying these new circuits on the team videos as well as YouTube. I am looking forward to running the AXR Cadillac at these new tracks. Of course, I will be motivated to do my best to get up to speed very quickly and work on the setup of the car.”
AXR team director Gary Nelson witnessed firsthand the passion Johnson has for sports car racing at Daytona. He’s excited to get the driver trio back together for the rest of the Michelin Endurance Cup events.
“Everyone involved with the Ally Cadillac program at the Rolex 24 had a great experience,” Nelson said. “I don’t think Jimmie slept. Every time I went to the engineering stand, he was sitting there observing, watching over the shoulders of our technical staff.
“All of the drivers contributed to a strong second-place finish. At the Rolex 24 we were honored to get support from Chad Knaus and several of the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew members. We are excited that we will be getting that help again for the remaining endurance events. We are looking forward to running the car at the three remaining IMSA endurance races and seeing how we come out in the season-ending standings come October.”
On-track action for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts begins with practice on Thursday, March 18. Qualifying streams live on IMSA.com starting at 11:10 a.m. ET Friday, March 19. The live, flag-to-flag race telecast begins on NBCSN at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 20, switching to the NBC Sports App at noon and returning to NBCSN at 7 p.m. through the race conclusion. The entire telecast also streams live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio coverage is available on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.