Lexus Racing and AVS Vasser Sullivan announced Monday morning (Nov. 4) that Kyle Busch will make his IMSA debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. He will drive one of the team’s Lexus RCF GT3s in the GT Daytona class. Since Lexus is Toyota’s luxury division in North America, there is no manufacturer clash for Busch.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Busch said in a video on Monday. “Obviously, it’s the [GT Daytona] class, but I’m really looking forward to driving the Lexus and having some fun.”
Busch also indicated that he was trying at one point to get a deal together to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2019, Le Mans fell on an off-week for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series between Michigan and Sonoma. However, the 2020 Cup schedule has a direct clash. Cup teams will be at Sonoma Raceway the same weekend as Le Mans. As a result, that is no longer possible.
Busch is far from the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular to compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. There are seven current full-time Cup drivers that have competed in the race in the past. Kyle Larson won the race overall in 2015 for Chip Ganassi Racing along with Jamie McMurray and INDYCAR regulars Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.
Kyle’s older brother Kurt competed twice with a best finish of third overall in 2008. Jimmie Johnson has seven Rolex 24 at Daytona starts with two second-place finishes (2005 and 2008). Kevin Harvick raced in a Chevrolet Corvette in 2002 and led his class early before running into problems. Michael McDowell was full-time in Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series before moving to Cup and made three Rolex 24 starts.
Those five drivers raced in prototypes. Only Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer have raced GT cars at Daytona. Bowyer competed with AF-Waltrip in 2013, finishing eighth in the GT class in a Ferrari 458 GT3. Menard raced three times at Daytona in three classes. His best finish was fourth in what was then the SGS class in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in terrible conditions. Outside of Cup, Austin Cindric has made three Rolex 24 at Daytona starts, two of which in the Lexus RCF GT3 that Kyle Busch will race. He finished fifth in class back in January.
AVS Vasser Sullivan has not announced their driver lineups as of yet for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. Jack Hawksworth, who shared the No. 14 Lexus with Richard Heistand in 2019, has already signed a deal to remain with the team full-time next season.