The first race of 2021 is officially in the books. The Rolex 24 is the unofficial start to the season and it certainly lived up to the hype. There were plenty of headlines throughout the weekend. From much-anticipated
debuts to the beginning of the IMSA season, the 59th running of the Rolex 24 was an unforgettable weekend.
Class and Overall Results
In the DPI class, Filipe Albuquerque won the race. The Acura run by Wayne Taylor Racing won their third Rolex 24 in a row and have now won 4 of the last 5. The first win was back in 2017 with Hall of Famer NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon winning the race.
In the LMP2 class the team of Paul-Loup Chatin, Dwight Merriman, Kyle Tilley, and Ryan Dalziel won. This team finished 6th overall in the race. Alongside big brother, Ricky Taylor, little brother Jordan Taylor won in the GTLM class. Overall the Chevy Corvette finished 11th.
The LMP3 class was won by Spencer Pigot and the rest of the 74 teams. The Ligier JS finished 18th overall.
Jimmie Johnson Finishes 2nd
One of the biggest stories of the weekend was Jimmie Johnson entering the Rolex 24. It was a strong run for the 48 team with a second-place finish in the DPI and overall race. The team has a fast car with their fastest lap being 1:34:918. This race has opened up a door for Jimmie Johnson.
Following this race, the possibility of Johnson running the other endurance races has increased. It is unclear whether or not Jimmie Johnson will participate in the other IMSA Weathertech challenges, but it is not impossible.
There are three other endurance races including the 24 hours of Le Mans, the 12 hours of Sebring, and the 6-hour race at Watkins Glen. Regardless of his decision Jimmie Johnson had a strong race and with a second-place finish, it could mean a return to the 2022 Rolex 24.
Chase Elliott’s Team Has Bad Luck
It was a tough weekend for the number 31 Cadillac. The 31 was off to a good start but it went south quickly. Early in the race, Felipe Nasr was ready for a green flag pit stop when all of a sudden a caution forced them to make an emergency pit stop. This caused them to fall from the lead down to 7th in the DPI class. Chase Elliott also struggled to find his groove. He was not reaching the same lap times as Felipe Nasr. Elliott made this noted when he did an interview with NBC.
He got another chance around the halfway point and improved his lap times. Any chance of winning came to an end right at the crack of dawn when mechanical issues led to the 31 being sent to the garage, The number 31 Cadillac finished 6th in the DPI class and 8th overall finishing 24 laps down. An outlier is that Chase got some more laps in the car when they returned to the race and all of this could lead to Chase Elliott returning to the 2022 Rolex 24.
AJ Allmendinger’s Team Earns Top-5 Finish
The only other Acura in the race finished strong. The team of AJ Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya, Olivier Pla, and Dane Cameron earned a 4th place finish in the DPI and overall results. They ran some fast laps with the fastest lap being a 1:35:280.
It was a valuable race for AJ not only broadcasting the race but racing during the race as well. This will be a good way for him to prepare for the upcoming NASCAR XFINITY Series season.
Austin Dillon & Rick Ware Racing Earn Top 10 Finish
It was the debut for Austin Dillon in the Rolex 24. He joined forces with Rick Ware Racing. They had a good race finishing 4th in the LMP2 class and 10th overall in the race. Their fastest lap was a 1:38:970.
It was a good learning experience for all their drivers and a good showing that Rick Ware and Austin Dillon will look to translate into NASCAR.
What’s Next For NASCAR Drivers
All the drivers in NASCAR will now look at the Daytona 500. With Speedweeks kicking off next Tuesday the season has officially begun. The first exhibition race will be run next Tuesday night when the NASCAR Cup Series will run at the Daytona Road Course. The Busch Clash will be the start of the long grueling start to the 2021 season.