As the calendar changed into 2021, race fans eagerly awaited the start of a new racing year. Thankfully, they don’t need to wait much longer; the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is here. The opening round of the IMSA championship starts next weekend. This weekend sees qualifying take place as the drivers battle it out for the pole. It is a perfect time to preview the race as America’s premier sports car race is now just days away.
After a low entry total of 38 in 2020, 2021’s entry list features 50 competitors across the different classes. Legendary drivers such as Jimmie Johnson, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves will feature in the elite Daytona prototype class. In the lower levels, drivers like Rinus VeeKay, Austin Dillon and Robert Kubica will feature. It is a star-studded field. There are Indy 500 winners, Monaco GP winners as well as Nascar Cup Series Champions.
Drivers to Watch in Daytona
The headline addition to the Daytona class in the offseason was Kevin Magnussen signing for Chip Ganassi Racing. The ex-F1 driver brings a blue-chip F1 knowledge to Ganassi. Reigning Indycar champion Scott Dixon will partner him in the number one car. Former Indy 500 winners Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves team-up for Wayne Taylor Racing. The headline lineup comes from Action Express Racing. The 48 car will get driven by seven-time Nascar Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi and Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud. It is a monstrous lineup. The drivers in the Daytona class will make it a race to remember.
The drivers in the Daytona class will make it a race to remember. All these drivers will battle it out for the outright win next weekend. They’ll duel it out for pole position this weekend.
The Other Classes
The other categories will display superb wheel to wheel racing between some of the most famous names in racing. The two GT classes will see Ferrari, Chevrolet, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Aston Martin face off to win the categories. While these GT cars are slower than the Daytona Prototypes, the competition will be fierce. The GT cars are suped-up road cars ready for the track; they are not high maintenance like the exotic cars higher up the grid; nevertheless, the GT category always offers thrilling races.
The Ultimate Test
Endurance races are the ultimate test in sportscar racing. For 24 hours, the drivers must maintain concentration while driving on a racetrack at high speed. Yes, they change the drivers every three hours, nonetheless, to drive for three-plus hours at high speed on a tricky track like Daytona takes a monumental amount of skill. The Daytona track is bumpy, narrow that features slow corners plus some high-speed sections. It is a problematic road-course to master. Any mistake will result in a crash, that could destroy a driver’s chances of winning. The walls are unforgiving; there is no room for concentration lapses or fatigue. Drivers must be perfect every lap.
Who Will Be the One Lap King?
If endurance racing is the ultimate test of a drivers stamina, then qualifying is examining a drivers’ maximum speed. In every racing series in the world, qualifying is the gut-check test for any driver. Every driver gets one lap, with fresh tyres on low fuel to beat their rivals. It is all about chasing racing perfection. Qualifying is the 100-meter race to the marathon that is a 24-hour drive. The cars are on the edge of crashing; the drivers are wrestling with a 200 mph beast. All while they try to slice their way past the barriers to go faster than everyone else. Qualifying in racing proves how much courage you possess.
With this years car being so similar in performance, the drivers will make the difference. Come Sunday afternoon we’ll find out who fast drivers are, and who are the faster drivers.
Its All Real Now
The Rolex 24 Hours is the pinnacle of American sports car racing. No race is more significant than Daytona; it sets the tone for the rest of the championship. After spending weeks in the factories or the simulators, the real thing is here. In a world where truth and lies get meshed into one blurry mess, the stopwatch never lies in car racing. That is why it is the most brutal of all sports. This Sunday will separate the slow drivers from the fast drivers. In some of the best race cars in the world, a field full of superstars take on one of the most iconic tracks on Earth; It does not get any better.