CONCORD, N.C. – The Garage 56 entry prepared by Hendrick Motorsports logged its first laps around the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday. This took place less than a week before the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway on Saturday, June 10 at 10 a.m. ET.
There were two sessions held on Test Day. The first took place from 4-7 a.m. ET and the second was from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET. In the second session, the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 logged its best lap of the day at 3 minutes, 53.761 seconds. According to the 24 Hours of Le Mans website, the car was a full two seconds faster than the top GTs.
"It’s just so cool to be here," Jimmie Johnson said in the video below following his first run on the track. "The experience of being on this track. I wanted to come here and be a part of it.
"This nine-month journey we’ve been on putting the car together. Testing it. Developing it. Traveling here. The buildup to it all. Those opening 10 laps for myself were just insane. What is really neat about this track is that the straightaways are so long, you can actually sit and savor the moment. Each lap I made, it became more real and intense the amount of fun I was having out there. That was incredible."
The team will next be on track on Wednesday, June 7, from 8-11 a.m. ET with a practice session. Qualifying will take place later that day from 1-2 p.m. ET with another practice session to follow from 4-6 p.m. ET.
What is the setup like for the team overseas? Take a look at this walkthrough of Garage 56 thanks to NASCAR’s Josh Hamilton.
The Garage 56 entry in the endurance race is a unique case because it is a single-entry class of competition for innovative cars – there is no other car in the class. Garage 56 was introduced in 2012 and allows for creativity without taking away a spot in the traditional starting grid. Hendrick Motorsports, in collaboration with NASCAR, Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear, is fielding the No. 24 entry.
The driver lineup is composed of a group of highly decorated racers. Formula One champion Jenson Button, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson, two-time Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and backup driver/coach Jordan Taylor (a four-time IMSA champion) make up the roster. Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition and seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus is overseeing the project with former Cup Series crew chief Greg Ives managing the race.
The car, a modified version of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 race car, was formally unveiled at Daytona International Speedway in February. The systems and components of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 are mostly unchanged from the car that runs in the NASCAR Cup Series. However, this car will have headlights and taillights for nighttime racing, a larger fuel cell, carbon brake discs and Goodyear Eagle race tires that have been specially designed.