CONCORD, N.C. – The Garage 56 entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans logged plenty of on-track time on Wednesday with two practice sessions totaling five hours and one hour of qualifying practice. One practice session came under the lights, marking the first time the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had logged laps at night at the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
Wednesday morning’s session saw the entry post a fast lap of 3 minutes, 49.475 seconds. That time was 5.5 seconds faster than the best car in the GTE Am class. In the qualifying practice, the team gained two seconds on its time with a fast lap of 3 minutes, 47.976 seconds. That mark was nearly four seconds faster than the best GTE Am class entry. Under the lights, Garage 56’s best lap time was 3 minutes, 51.904 seconds, which was just over two seconds faster than the GTE Am class.
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The team worked on its driver changes as seen in this video to many onlookers. 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.
NASCAR Hall of Famer and two-time Le Mans competitor Hershel McGriff took in the events of the day and interacted with the team.
On Thursday, June 8, the team will be on track for its final practice sessions. The first practice takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. The second session will take place at night in France from 4-5 p.m. ET. All of these events will be on MotorTrend+.
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.
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Tuesday afternoon saw the pit crew from Hendrick Motorsports take part in the Pit Stop Challenge and emerge victorious in the GTE class (which is where the team was classified for this competition only). They performed a NASCAR-style pit stop in 10.364 seconds and were the only team to use a manual jack. In the overall competition, the team placed fifth, just 0.3 seconds behind the top team.
The Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 pit crew is made up of Dawson Backus (front-tire changer), Cody French (front-tire carrier), Jarius Morehead (rear-tire carrier), Mike Moss (rear-tire changer) and Donovan Williams (jackman).
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.
Fans can watch the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 10, on MotorTrend TV/MotorTrend+. Coverage of the warm-up sessions will begin at 5:45 a.m. ET and pre-race coverage will begin at 9 a.m. ET, both on MotorTrend+.