In June, Mike Rockenfeller piloted the NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 around Circuit de la Sarthe as he, Jenson Button, and Jimmie Johnson completed the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two months later, he will once again drive a Camaro, albeit in actual Cup Series competition for Johnson’s Legacy Motor Club when he races the #42 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen International.
A former DTM and Le Mans champion, Rockenfeller has been associated with Johnson since 2021 when they raced in IMSA together. The following year, he made his NASCAR début in the Cup race at Watkins Glen with Spire Motorsports, where he ran as high as third but finished thirtieth; another start came at the Charlotte Roval later in the season with a twenty-ninth. He already had some stock car experience prior to the starts, having assisted NASCAR in developing the Next Gen car in 2020.
Rockenfeller did not race in the Cup Series’ first three road races of 2023 (COTA, Sonoma, Chicago), but had been focused on preparing NASCAR’s Garage 56 entry for Le Mans. Joined by Button and Johnson, the Cup car successfully reached the finish after displaying pace comparable to the LMGTE class in thirty-ninth overall.
He and Button will go from team-mates to rivals at Indianapolis as the latter races for Rick Ware Racing. Kamui Kobayashi, a fellow Le Mans winner who worked with Rockenfeller and Johnson in IMSA, is making his maiden NASCAR start.
The opportunity to race in Cup again arose in rather unfortunate circumstance as Rockenfeller replaces Noah Gragson, who was indefinitely suspended prior to last weekend’s round at Michigan. Josh Berry crashed out and placed thirty-fourth in relief duty.