Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott will make his sports car racing debut in grand fashion as part of Action Express Racing’s title-winning No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R Daytona line-up.
As the Georgian prepares for his first Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will have a formidable trio of teammates to learn from at the January 22-24 Roar Before The 24 with 2018 IMSA DPi champion Felipe Nasr, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship star Pipo Derani, and FIA WEC LMP1 champion Mike Conway set to welcome the 25-year-old into the world of endurance racing.
“The Rolex 24 is such a major event, and it’s a race that anybody across any type of motorsports really respects,” Elliott said. “I think everyone wants to win a watch before their career is over. It’s something different and a completely different element of racing that I haven’t tried before. I’m trying to branch out and be more diverse as a driver and this is another part of that experience. I appreciate Action Express giving me this opportunity and I am looking forward to learning and running my first Rolex 24 next month.”
“Recently we were able to spend a day with Chase in the simulator, running the Dallara Cadillac model on the Daytona road course,” said Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing team manager. “We were amazed at how quick Chase got up to speed, his feedback, and how easy he was to work with. We are very excited to work with him again next month in Daytona at the Roar and the Rolex 24.”
Elliott has become one of NASCAR’s most talented road racers, earning victories at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Sonoma in NASCAR’s lower divisions before going on to capture multiple Cup wins at Watkins Glen and on the Charlotte roval.
AXR’s opening volley in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is infused with NASCAR relationships. In the sister No. 48 Cadillac, Hendrick Motorsports has joined as a co-entrant in the car driven by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Ally, Johnson’s longtime NASCAR sponsor, has also come along for the event where the 45-year-old will have Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, two-time Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi, and DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller supporting the Cup-centric Daytona program.
While the Elliott name will be new to IMSA’s top class, the son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott will have some work to do if he wants to match his father’s accomplishments in sports car racing. Fourth on his IMSA GTO debut in 1985 with Lyn St. James in a Roush Racing Ford Mustang, Awesome Bill would close his IMSA chapter in 1987 by placing seventh overall at the Sunbank 24 At Daytona on the way to winning the GTO class with St. James, Tom Gloy, and Scott Pruett.
And while the elder Elliott did not get to race in IMSA’s GTP class, he did take a moment to sit and pose in the cockpit of Davy Jones’ TWR USA Jaguar XJR-14 at the 1992 race in Watkins Glen: