A quartet of NASCAR Young Guns will leave their production cars at home to compete in the IMSA sportscar events at Daytona International Speedway next week to open the 2022 season.
Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Chase Briscoe and Hailie Deegan – all part of the Ford Performance program in NASCAR – will compete in two Ford Mustang GT4s on Friday, January 28 for the season opener of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the BMW M Endurance Challenge, A day later, Cindric will climb into the No. 15 Proton USA Mercedes-AMG GT3 and compete in the new GTD PRO class at the 60th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, North America’s premier sportscar race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar , 29.-30. January.
Cindric and Burton will share the #41 PF Racing Mustang for the Michelin Pilot Challenge race, with Briscoe and Deegan in the #42 Mustang from the same stable. The goal for all four drivers is to gain valuable street circuit experience before the start of their NASCAR seasons—the Camping World Truck Series for Deegan and the Cup Series for the other three.
Tickets are available for next weekend’s activities and include the following. Sign up to receive all ticket information for the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA weekend www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
4-Day Adult Ticket: $125 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Children up to 12 years FREE
Adult Sat-Sun Tickets: $75 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Children up to 12 years FREE
Sat-Sun Adult Tickets: $50 (Infield, Frontstretch Access): Children 12 and under FREE
Adult tickets Saturday-Sunday: $50 (unreserved front seats): Children 12 and under FREE
Adult tickets on Friday: $30 (unreserved front seats): Children 12 and under FREE
Adult Sunday tickets: $35 (unreserved front stretch seating): Children 12 and under FREE
Cindric, the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion who will be a Cup Series rookie with Team Penske this year, is no stranger to IMSA racing. The 22-year-old has contested 16 Michelin Pilot Challenge races with two wins and has six WeatherTech Championship races under his belt.
For Burton, 21-year-old driver of NASCAR’s Wood Brothers Racing Ford and son of former NASCAR driver and current NBC Sports race analyst Jeff Burton, the 3.56-mile Daytona track will be a new experience.
“I’ve had these conversations with my friends at Ford, at the Wood Brothers and at Penske. The only thing I wanted to work on to get better was to be a better street racer,” said Harrison Burton. “Having the opportunity to do this right away is awesome and recognition that they have made a commitment to help me get better. It really is everything a driver could ask for.”
- To download the new Rolex 24 At DAYTONA logo, click here. click entry list for Rolex 24 At DAYTONA as well as on weekends Time schedule. Click for photos of all four riders here.
Drivers have their teams’ blessing to venture outside of their regular work area to compete at Daytona.
“We want to be flexible,” said Walter Czarnecki, vice chairman, Team Penske. “We want to give them the opportunity to expand their skills.”
But the four gets plenty of space in Daytona. It started on Friday with three days of testing for both IMSA series at the Roar Before the Rolex 24. In the second session on Friday, Cindric was 7th fastest of the 30 cars in the Grand Sport (GS) class with a lap of 1 minute and 54.027 seconds. (112.394 mph) while Briscoe finished 12th with a 1:54.367 (112.060 mph).
“That’s one thing I’ve really buckled up and said for this 2022, I just need to get as much seat time as possible, whether it’s in the dirt, on circuits or whatever I can ride,” Deegan said. 20, returning to David Gilliland Racing in 22 for a second trucking season. “I just want to come in and get more experience and I feel like there’s one thing I could improve on – I can improve on a lot of things – but I feel like there’s one thing that’s really coming up more in the NASCAR world and that’s the street circuit Run. I have the feeling that being able to drive any kind of road course will just improve me as a driver.”
It will be a reunion for Deegan and Briscoe, who shared a Mustang for the 2020 Daytona race. Briscoe, who is driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series this season, is looking forward to the seat time and to seeing how Deegan has improved in the two years since they have raced together.
“The last time we were there, it was her first time ever running a road course,” said Briscoe, 27. “Well, getting back to her, she’s probably done three or four truck races now (on road courses) and has raced some other IMSA stuff so it will be fun to see her improve as a racer.
“She’s doing a really good job in a lot of different disciplines and it’s going to be fun to go down there and show us both a whole new discipline and go down there and just have a good time.”
When the Michelin Pilot Challenge race is over, the race ends for three of the drivers. Not so for Cindric, who will make his fourth start in the Rolex 24, this time alongside Dirk Mueller and Patrick Assenheimer in the #15 Mercedes. Cindric has a clear goal in mind.
“I have a very strong desire to win the Rolex 24 and that is my motivating factor to compete in this race,” said Cindric, who won the beef last February. It’s what’s for dinner. 300 races of the NASCAR Xfinity Series. “I’ve worked really hard every offseason to try and make a difference, not to get into a five-rider lineup just to race and experience it. I kind of did it all.
“I would say the Rolex is probably the most realistic race I can watch and say I would love to win that race. I think this is a great opportunity for me to do that, or at least establish my skills for it, and as I said, against a group of drivers who are incredibly talented and incredibly experienced, all in their cars.”
GTD PRO is just that – a class based on professional drivers. Most cars have factory support. In a way, Cindric says, this Rolex 24 will reflect what he expects as a NASCAR Cup Series rookie – going head-to-head with the best pro drivers.
“On GTD PRO you look at the roster and my jaw kind of dropped,” said Cindric, “so I’m looking forward to this challenge.”
Once the checkered flag drops at the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the World Center of Racing will focus on DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth (February 15-20) and the 64th Annual DAYTONA 500. The week will be six days of incredible track action with practice, qualifying and a total of six races across four different series. It will offer multiple opportunities for fans to see the next-gen NASCAR Cup Series car, as well as some of the world’s greatest drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, and the ARCA Menards Series.
For ticket information for Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth events, log in www.DAYTONA500.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP. If fans would like to buy or sell reserved seats for the DAYTONA 500, please visit SeatGeek, the DAYTONA 500’s preferred ticket exchange, and Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.