Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button and 24 Hours of LeMans winner Mike Rockenfeller have been announced as the drivers for NASCAR’s Garage 56 NEXT Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the upcoming LeMans 24 Hours.
The project is a collaboration between NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear with the entry being operated by Hendrick Motorsports.
Speaking following the announcent, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said:
Since the beginning of the Garage 56 project, it has been our goal to partner with the top racers in the world to represent us in Le Mans. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is everything we could have dreamed of – three elite drivers who have won at the highest levels of motorsports worldwide. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, we are honored to have these world-class champions help bring the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race car to fans in Le Mans, and across the world.
Johnson won a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series championships and 83 races for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet in his illustrious career. He recently became part owner of NASCAR Cup Series team LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and will race in next month’s Daytona 500. Johnson helped test the Garage 56 car at Sebring in December.
The LEGACY MOTOR CLUB co-owner says he is super thrilled to be embarking on the new journey with Hendrick Motorsports.
“I’m super thrilled – it’s been at the top of my bucket list to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans someday. “To have this opportunity come – and to partner with everybody and this driver lineup – is truly an incredible opportunity and one that I am thankful to be a part of.”
Rockenfeller, whose sports car accolades include winning the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans GT Class, the 2010 ROLEX 24 at Daytona and the 2013 German DTM championship, has served as the lead test driver for the Garage 56 project. He has driven the car at every on-track test and spent countless hours behind the wheel in the simulator.
“It has been a great journey so far with the whole team and project. “To be involved as a driver from day one until now was already a great honor, and to now have Jimmie and Jenson alongside me as teammates in Le Mans is unbelievable.”
Jenson Button is one of the most successful English Formula One drivers having won 15 races and scored 50 podiums during his career.
Button won the 2009 Formula One World Championship with the Brawn GP and since retiring has gone to have further success in broadcasting working as an expert analyst with Sky Sports F1HD.
As a lifelong racing fan, I have always dreamed of racing certain cars, with and against certain drivers and competing in certain events. “In June, a number of those dreams will come true in one event when I get to bring NASCAR to the world stage alongside my pals Jimmie and ‘Rocky’ for the 100th anniversary of the most prestigious race in the world. I’m really looking forward to sharing this journey with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and current and future NASCAR fans from around the world.
The 100th 24 Hours of LeMans takes place from June 10/11.
The three drivers will drive the NEXT Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at a two day test at Daytona next week.