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NASCAR Sprint Cup presence at Rolex 24 limited thus far

Jan 4, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Ford EcoBoost 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

In past years, NASCAR’s finest such as Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle have taken their shot at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. But at the moment, the presence of NASCAR stars racing in the endurance race kickoff to the 2014 North American racing season is minimal.

Thus far just Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s pair of Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson are the only confirmed Sprint Cup drivers who will be participating in this year’s race, though JTG Daugherty’s AJ Allmendinger is expected to be confirmed soon with Michael Shank Racing, the team he has been with for years at the Rolex.

“It’s the most fun race I get to run all year long,” McMurray said on Friday at the Chip Ganassi Racing team announcement in Daytona. “There’s no points for us and it’s all about being able to win. What makes it such a good time, you’ll see guys all year long and they’ll be here, so you can eat lunch with them, hang out and things like that. It’s fun to be a part of it.”

McMurray has five career Rolex 24 starts with a best finish of second in 2011, while Larson will be making not just his sports car debut, but his 24-hour race debut. But the 21-year-old had a good one-liner yesterday when it came to the potential of driving overnight shifts.

“I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to do it this year,” Larson said. “As far as 3-4 a.m. shifts, I’m usually out that late anyway, so bring it on.”

Both have the tutelage of Scott Pruett to work with in the CGR stable. Pruett’s win last year was his fifth overall, tying the record set by Hurley Haywood.

As for as other full-time NASCAR Cup drivers go, last year Marcos Ambrose raced with Shank and Clint Bowyer with Michael Waltrip in an AF Corse-run GT class Ferrari 458. At the moment, neither is projected to a seat this year.

  1. manik56 - Jan 4, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    C’mon Tin top drivers. You guys need to represent. “Weak” is all I can say.

    • indycarseries500 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      To be fair NASCAR drivers have a much more grueling schedule than IndyCar, Indy Lights, WEC, former and current Formula 1 prospects and former Formula 1 drivers.

  2. posirep - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I love how they mention Allmendinger will be back at IS confirmed. He’s been in the car already and he will only run sports cars with Shank.

    Also, nice gloss over of the fact that out of all the NASCAR drivers, Allmendinger and McMurray are the only ones who’ve won the Rolex 24. The difference is AJ has been the best driver on his team while McMurray’s been the worst driver on his team(although to be fair McMurray was partnered with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, and Juan Pablo Montoya). AJ’s dual with Allan McNish a couple years ago was about as epic as racing comes.

    • Tony DiZinno - Jan 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Yes, Allmendinger has just been confirmed within the last hour or so. I will always wait for the team to officially confirm before writing in print that it is.

      McMurray has not won the Rolex 24 overall, contrary to your suggestion. Casey Mears won it a number of years ago though with Dixon and the late Dan Wheldon.

      • posirep - Jan 4, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        I could have sworn he won it. Maybe that was the year Graham Rahal and Joey Hand were paired with Dixon and Franchitti.

        OK, maybe confirmation was an hour ago but Aj and Shank are god friends and AJ has been talking about this race pretty much since Indy last year. So it was never really a question if AJ was going to be in the car.

  3. olejc - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    I am surprised both of you forgot John Andretti also won the overall. While also very experienced with wins in other (Indy and NHRA) racing series, John is primarily known for his NASCAR career. Another accomplishment was being the first to run both Indy and Charlotte on the same day.

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