Ally Cadillac drivers Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, Calif.) and Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) finished third in Sunday’s Roar Before the 24 100-minute qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. Today’s result will see Johnson and Kobayashi, along with teammates Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) and Jose Maria Lopez (Argentina), start third on the DPi grid for next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Johnson, who will make his ninth Rolex 24 Hour start next weekend, started today’s qualifying race fourth in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. thanks to a qualifying time of 1:34.941. Johnson put in a solid stint and had the car up to second before handing it over to Kobayashi on lap 20.
Kobayashi, who is seeking his third Rolex 24 title and who helped Ally finish second last year in the Rolex 24, had the No. 48 Cadillac up to fourth with about 15 minutes remaining. From there, he pushed hard to put the car in the top three with time running out. It finally happened when the No. 31 Whelen Engineering team-car had to make a final pit stop for fuel and Kobayashi finished third.
“We have a little work to do with the balance of the car,” Johnson said. “But, [we got] more laps for me and more laps together as a group. We had a great strategy to finish third, so good day. We’re looking forward to getting more laps later in the week, taking the data from this race to learn more and then go racing.”
“I think starting P3 for the 24-hour is good,” Kobayashi said. “It really doesn’t mean anything in a 24-hour race. But obviously, it’s where we will start. I think this was a good moment to study for the 24-hour. I think we need to work on it [the car] a little bit more and we’ll see where we are at the end. But I think, so far, we’re in good shape.”
Next weekend, Kobayashi looks to win his third Rolex 24 (2019 and 2020), while Rockenfeller hopes to get his second Rolex 24 win (2010). Rockenfeller was part of the Action Express team that won the twice around the clock race in 2010. Action Express Racing won the Rolex 24 in 2010 and 2014.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo. Brian Cleary