What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans

What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans – 2023

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The “Garage 56” entry, represented by the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro, (You are reading What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans) exceeded all expectations at the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Although the specialized entry was not eligible for class victories, its successful completion of the full 24 hours marked a tremendous achievement for NASCAR’s return to Le Mans since 1976.

What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans

As Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR champion, concluded the 285th lap around the Circuit de la Sarthe in the Camaro, team owner Rick Hendrick radioed him, asking how it felt to take the checkered flag at Le Mans. Johnson’s response was simply “Awesome.”

The anticipation surrounding the car, known as “Le Monster,” grew throughout the week. It stood out from the rest of the 62-car field due to its distinctive rumbling V8 engine, which overshadowed the competition. Additionally, few had high expectations for the NASCAR entry. (You are reading What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans)

Jim France, the owner of both NASCAR and IMSA, played a pivotal role in securing the deal to include NASCAR’s second-year Next Gen stock car in Le Mans’ “Innovative Car” class, which emphasizes technological advancements. France then brought together Rick Hendrick, Chevrolet, and Goodyear—the most successful team, manufacturer, and tire in NASCAR’s 75-year history—to collaborate on the project.

For France, this was a passion project that aimed to fulfill a family dream. Having attended Le Mans for the first time in 1962 with his late father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., France wanted to ensure a top-notch effort that would not embarrass the racing series that originated on Daytona Beach’s sands in Florida, where North Carolina moonshine runners became its earliest stars.

Rick Hendrick emphasized that they were determined not to let the project falter. He stated, “The last thing we were going to do was come here and fall on our nose.”

France expressed his elation, highlighting the countless hours of hard work contributed by hundreds of people to make the project a reality. He commended the team, pit crews, and everyone involved for their exceptional performance throughout the week. France hoped that his father and brother were looking down, smiling. Their initial goal was to finish the race running and not come in last, which they successfully accomplished.

Ignore this paragraph, What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans.

What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans – 2023

What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans

Chad Knaus, who had won seven Cup championships with Johnson, led the project under Hendrick’s direction. Knaus spared no expense, pushing the Next Gen car to its limits. The final product differed significantly from the one currently used in the Cup Series. While the Le Mans model shared similar systems and components with the Next Gen car, it boasted functioning headlights and taillights.

The major differences in the Le Mans entry included its 500-pound (226 kg) lighter weight compared to the Cup car, a larger fuel cell, approximately 12 gallons (45 liters) more capacity to accommodate the 8.467-mile (13.626 km) track’s length, carbon brake discs, and a Goodyear tire specially designed for the race.

The car’s performance surpassed everyone’s expectations. Hendrick Motorsports’ pit crew even won its class in the pit crew competition, finishing fifth overall. Moreover, Mike Rockenfeller, a two-time Le Mans winner, qualified the car more than three seconds faster than the entire 21-car GTE AM class. This prompted a reassessment of their goals, especially when race organizers decided that the Garage 56 entry would not start last and moved it to 39th, ahead of all the GTE cars due to the significant speed difference.

Suddenly, the Hendrick team dared to dream of surpassing some GTE cars. And when they found themselves with an actual chance to win the entire class, expectations shifted. Hendrick recalled watching the race until 3 a.m. and being pleasantly surprised when he woke up on Sunday morning, thinking, “Holy cow, we can win the GT class!”

He added, “Leading those guys, there were some puckered up Porsches and Corvettes. So we checked all the boxes.” (What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans)

However, two late mechanical problems derailed their pursuit. First, they had to make an unplanned pit stop to change the brakes with approximately five hours remaining. Later, they had to stop again to change the gearbox. As a result, the NASCAR effort slipped to a 39th-place overall finish but secured 10th place in the GTE class.

What Place Did The Nascar Finish at Lemans – 2023

Johnson couldn’t help but feel disappointed. While they were not in the same category, they shared the same type of car. Initially, they anticipated being in the mid-to-back pack of the GT cars, using that as motivation. Johnson mentioned laughing when they had to change the transmission because their goal was simply to finish. However, as they began racing, they realized they had more potential. Throughout the week, their aspirations shifted towards winning the GT race.

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Despite the disappointment, Johnson emphasized the bond that had developed within the team and the pride they felt for what NASCAR had accomplished. He expressed a desire to return to Le Mans and participate in the race again. However, he acknowledged that this particular moment with this group of people was unique and irreplaceable.

“I wish we could come back and do it again,” he said. “This moment, like with everybody, I hate that it is over. Like, I hate that. We had such a good time. I hope to come back without a doubt and do this race again. But this moment in time, this group of people, it won’t happen again. It’s just impossible.”

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