Chase Elliott has proven himself to be a road course ace in the NASCAR Cup Series, and in January 2021, he hopes it will translate to sports car endurance racing. On Friday, Action Express Racing announced the reigning Cup champion has joined their #31 Cadillac DPi-V.R for the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He will share the car with Mike Conway, Pipo Derani, and Felipe Nasr.
“It’s something different and a completely different element of racing that I haven’t tried before,” Elliott said. “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.”
Elliott has dominated the road course races on the calendar. Since his first full-time Cup season in 2016, he leads all active drivers in wins on such tracks with five, including sweeping the two road races in 2020 as part of a four-race win streak. One of such wins came at the Daytona infield track, which he will return to for the Rolex 24. His first career Cup win also came on a road course at Watkins Glen in 2018, as did his maiden Camping World Truck Series win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2013 as a 17-year-old. In twelve career Cup road starts, he finished in the top ten in all but four (two as a rookie, a thirteenth at The Glen in 2017, and an engine failure at Sonoma in 2019).
“Recently we were able to spend a day with Chase in the simulator, running the Dallara, Cadillac model on the Daytona road course,” added AXR manager Gary Nelson. “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.”
While the 2021 Rolex 24 will be Elliott’s first time running a sports car, he will have some familiar company. Former Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson, who recently ended his decorated NASCAR career, will once again serve as his ally at AXR in the #48.
AXR also shares plenty of ties to NASCAR, being owned by NASCAR CEO Jim France. The team has also helped the sanctioning body with testing the future Next Gen car that Elliott and his fellow Cup competitors will drive in 2022, providing road course test vehicles. Nasr, a former Formula One driver and two-time runner-up in the Rolex 24, drove the Next Gen car at the Daytona road course as part of the testing process.