Action Express Racing announced Tuesday (Dec. 28) that they will once again field a part-time second Cadillac DPi-V.R. in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Michelin Endurance Cup races in 2022. Jimmie Johnson will once again be back in the Ally-sponsored No. 48 Cadillac alongside Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller. Joining the team for the first time in 2022 is Jose Maria Lopez, who will replace Simon Pagenaud.
Similar to 2021, the team will be a mix of Action Express Racing officials and those from Hendrick Motorsports. Chad Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief for the vast majority of his career in the NASCAR Cup Series, will be back on top of the pit box for the races.
“It’s good to have Jimmie back leading the driver lineup in the Ally Cadillac for the four endurance events in 2022,” said Gary Nelson, team manager for Action Express Racing. “We have a little more time to get up to speed this time for the Rolex 24 in January. The team showed a lot of promise last year, finishing second at the Rolex and showing strong pace at Sebring. We will be working closely with Rick Hendrick’s group led by Chad Knaus. Jose Maria [Lopez] is new to the car this year. He is a Le Mans 24 winner and WEC Champion, and I am sure he will be up to speed very quickly when he steps in the Ally Cadillac.”
The team was able to get some laps together at Daytona International Speedway as part of a recent open test session. The Roar Before the 24 from Jan. 22-24 will allow for even more track time.
Currently, the plan is for Johnson and Rockenfeller to run all four of the endurance races, starting with January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Kobayashi and Lopez will have more limited schedules. For example, Sebring in March is scheduled as the “SuperSebring” weekend with both the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1000 Miles of Sebring for the FIA World Endurance Championship on the schedule. Kobayashi and Lopez are teammates in the No. 7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid for Toyota GAZOO Racing. Johnson is very happy to be back for a second go-around.
“I really enjoyed driving with Action Express Racing last season,” Johnson stated in a press release. “It’s great to have the opportunity to continue in IMSA with Ally, while working alongside Chad [Knaus] and other former [Hendrick Motorsports] teammates. Knowing that we are committed to run all of the Endurance races in 2022 allows us to get in some extra testing and to be better prepared. It’s great to have Kamui [Kobayashi] and Mike [Rockenfeller] back. And Jose Maria [Lopez], with his experience, is also a great addition to the lineup. 2022 is going to be an exciting year!”
For Johnson, this will be his ninth start in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In his previous appearances, his best finishes have been a pair of seconds, one in 2005 in a Pontiac-powered Crawford chassis for Howard-Boss Motorsports and the other in 2008 for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.
Sebring is also going to be a difficult weekend for Johnson. In addition to the 12-hour race on Saturday, the NTT IndyCar Series is scheduled to race 300 miles Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. To this point, Johnson has never raced in the NTT IndyCar Series on an oval, but has tested on the high-banked quad-oval previously. It will be a very busy weekend for the seven-time Cup championship.
For Lopez, this will mark his first time competing in IMSA. It’s going to be quite a fun experience for him.
“Driving with Jimmie Johnson is very special,” Lopez stated. “As a big fan of motor racing, I’ve always followed NASCAR and Jimmie was my favorite driver. I can definitely say that I am a big fan. So, to share the car with him is a huge privilege.”
“My experience in America is not huge,” Lopez continued. “I raced my first endurance event back in 2007 in the 12 hours of Sebring, and from there, I always wanted to come back and race in America again. I love the way racing is and my teammates Kamui and Mike always tells me how much they enjoy racing in such a competitive category and series like IMSA.
Lopez comes to Action Express Racing after spending the last four seasons (five years) racing full-time for Toyota GAZOO Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 30 career starts, Lopez has nine overall victories and (along with Kobayashi) has won the last two World Championships (2019-20 in the LMP1 class, 2021 in the Hypercar class). The 2007 start Lopez mentioned came with Corsa Motorsports in a Ferrari F430 GT in the American Le Mans Series’ GT2 class. Lopez’s race ended early when the Ferrari caught fire.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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