The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona field announced its first NASCAR Cup Series driver with reigning Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric returning to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.
Cindric was announced in the lineup Saturday for the No. 51 Oreca of Rick Ware Racing in the LMP2 division. The Team Penske driver will join Formula One subsidiary driver Pietro Fittipaldi, Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver Devlin DeFrancesco and Eric Lux.
Cindric, who made the playoffs as the 2022 NACAR Cup Series rookie of the year, will make his second consecutive Rolex 24 start and fifth overall in the sports classic at the Daytona International Speedway race. He will likely be the only full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver in line for the second consecutive year running 244 hours.
“The Rolex 24 is an event I’ve always been passionate about.” Cindric said in a DailySportsCar.com release. “It’s my fifth attempt, I’m hungry to win and chase the Rolex watch. I have a large, experienced train of co-drivers with a winning pedigree.
Cindric’s team is known from the premier NASCAR series, where Rick Ware Racing also owns Ford Fields.
“The 24-hour race at Daytona is one of the crown jewels of motorsports.” Rick Ware said in the release. “It’s up there with the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Maine. I couldn’t be happier about the line-up of drivers we are bringing to the Rolex 24 this year. It’s great to have drivers with F1, NASCAR, Indy Car and various other levels of racing experience driving our cars this year.
Francisco and Lux combined to win last year’s LMP2 division in a DragonSpeed USA car with IndyCar stars Colton Herta and Pat O’Ward. One of at least 10 IndyCar drivers in the Rolex 24DeFrancesco will also drive for RWR in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season.
Road-racing veteran Cindric makes eight starts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After seven starts in GT cars, this marks his second start in LMP2. He finished sixth in the JDC-Miller Motorsports class at the 2018 Rolex 24.
IMSA released preliminary entry list with teams and cars of the month for the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona. An entry list with designated drivers is expected soon.