Wednesday, September 27, 2023

No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 Entry Finishes 39th in 24 Hours of Le Mans

NASCAR Garage 56 Le Mans race updates How is the NASCAR Garage 56 car doing?
The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro entry finished 39th overall in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. Photo Credit: Getty Images

The NASCAR Garage 56 entry in the 2023 Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race, which was a collaborative effort between NASCAR, General Motors, Hendrick Motorsports and Goodyear, finished 39th overall in the 62-car field.

While the car was in its own special class, the Garage 56 class which is reserved each year for a car that showcases automotive innovation, the car found itself out-pacing the entire GTE class late in the running of the race, as the No. 24 car got as high as 27th in the overall running order.

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Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button and Jimmie Johnson turned in a hell of a performance from behind the wheel.

However, after drive line issues popped up in the late portion of the race, the Garage 56 entry spent around an hour in the garage area making repairs.

After the repairs, the team closed out the race and came home with a 39th-place overall finish in the race.

The NASCAR Garage 56 entry started from the 39th position in the 62-car field in the event.

The car was based off of a NASCAR Next Gen race car that the NASCAR Cup Series utilizes, with aerodynamic and other changes, such as headlights, fog lights and other features.

To view all of the updates for the NASCAR Garage 56 entry from the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans event, check all of the updates below this post.

(latest updates will appear at the top of the order)

UPDATE #14 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 10:29 AM ET —

We have gone around the clock twice in France. The 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans has been completed and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 entry finished the race 39th overall in the 62-car field.

The team ran a large portion of the event with no issues, and had actually moved well inside the top-30, and was ahead of all of the cars in the GT class in the later portions of the race.

Then, the car ran into drive line issues around 6:30 AM ET, which took around an hour to repair.

Overall, this race was a success for the NASCAR team.

UPDATE #13 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 8:43 AM ET —

After pulling around an hour-long stint, Mike Rockenfeller has relinquished the seat in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 entry to Jimmie Johnson.

The car seems to be operating just fine after the repairs to the drive line.

UPDATE #12 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 7:37 AM ET —

Repairs to the drive line of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro have been completed in the garage area. The car is returning to the track and Mike Rockenfeller will give the car a shake down for a few laps to verify the repairs are completed.

UPDATE #11 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 6:33 AM ET —

Despite the engine and all of its components seeming to be fine on the last stop of the race, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports entry started showing signs of issues with Jenson Button in the car.

Button has taken the car to the garage area for what is believed to be a drive line problem.

“We have a drive line issue and the team is working to repair it now,” said Chad Knaus. “The goal remains to finish the race.”

Bozi Tatarevic shared onboard footage of the No. 24 car from the moment that the transaxle broke on the car, leading to the repairs:

UPDATE #10 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 5:07 AM ET —

The No. 24 NASCAR Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro continues to log laps and miles in this race.

With Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel, the team has eclipsed 237 laps in this event, which equates to more than 2,000 miles.

To put the feat into perspective, the longest NASCAR race of the year is the 600-mile Coca-Cola 600.

According to the team, the engine is still running excellent after 2,000 miles.

“The engine is doing great. The powertrain is looking good,” said Scott Meesters, the director of special projects at ECR Engines. “The engine and all of its vitals are meeting what we’ve observed on all our durability runs at ECR in our shop. So right now we’re feeling really good about it. Honestly, other than the off the wall things that you can’t control, we felt really good coming into this race. Especially after all the testing and validation we’ve done. But at this point in time, in the race, we’re feeling really good right now. Anything could still happen, but to be able to get this far. It checks a lot of boxes and we know the product is good. It’s what it should be.”

The car has just undergone a brake change and Jenson Button has climbed back into the car, replacing Mike Rockenfeller.

UPDATE #9 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 3:18 AM ET —

Mike Rockenfeller is back in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports machine for his third stint in this race.

After Jimmie Johnson’s third stint, the team sits 30th overall in the 62-car field and they rank behind only one car in the entire GT class.

Even though the Garage 56 entry is not in the GT class, being in contention to pass cars in that class have served as motivation for the drivers of the No. 24 car.

“When we saw that we were in the hunt to be leading the GT class is when we switched from a bit of ‘let’s just cruise here’ to ‘alright we can actually race a lot of these guys.’ It feels like even though we’re not fighting them for a position it’s kind of nice to have that carrot to chase and a goal to beat them,” explained Jordan Taylor, the driver coach of the Garage 56 entry. “This is when you see all the guys at Hendrick come to life and all their years of experience come into play.”

UPDATE #8 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 12:23 AM ET —

With Jimmie Johnson still in the cockpit of the No. 24 NASCAR Garage 56 entry, the car has now started to make some real moves in the running order of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Johnson and the No. 24 team now sit 28th in the field, of the 62 that are running in the race. While the car is in the special “Garage 56” class, the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro is actually now higher in the running order than all of the GTE cars in the field. An impressive feat.

Just over seven and a half hours remain in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, how much higher up the sheet can the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports entry make it? We’ll see.

UPDATE #7 Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 12:55 AM ET —

It is Jimmie Johnson’s turn behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 entry.

Mike Rockenfeller, who took over for Jenson Button, has now made way for Johnson to return to the car. As Johnson takes back over for another stint, there is just over 9 hours remaining in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the NASCAR entry has driven a nearly flawless race.

As it stands, the entry sits 30th overall, which would put it third in the GT Glass. The entry is in its own special Garage 56 class, which is reserved for a car that shows great innovation.

UPDATE #6 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 10:38 PM ET —

The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team NASCAR Garage 56 entry continues to roll along at Le Mans. The car has now made it through 142 laps, and near the end of Mike Rockenfeller’s second stint behind the wheel, the team noticed some issues going on with the tire pressure on the right rear of the car.

Fortunately, thanks to new technology introduced by Goodyear special for the Garage 56 project, the team was able to see the issue unfolding in real time with in-car data. As a result, they knew to call Rockenfeller to pit road before they had a big issue on their hands.

“We were monitoring the tire pressure sensors and our engineers happened to see that the right rear tire was starting to lose some pressure,” Chad Knaus of Hendrick Motorsports explained. “It was great timing, they did a great job catching it. The team was able to react and get it in here and get some new tires put on the car. It was awesome.”

As Rockenfeller came to pit road, Jenson Button swapped into the car for another stint.

The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team sits 37th overall in the running order of the race. There are 62 cars that started the event.

UPDATE #5 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 7:58 PM ET —

Jimmie Johnson has completed his second stint behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 machine. While his first stint was just under an hour in length, Johnson stayed behind the wheel for a total of 2 hours, 52 minutes and 7 seconds this time around.

Johnson manned the car in the dark, and over his latest stretch of racing, Johnson endured wet and dry conditions. Johnson said the weather, and the fashion at which it came out of nowhere while he was racing, made things a bit scary.

“It was frightening, especially how it took place – there was a pop-up shower at the start of the lap and it was just pouring,” Johnson recalled. “I came around a corner on slicks and it was just a downpour. But we brought the car around and put wets on it to really try to understand how the wets would perform. We probably ran 2-3 too many laps on the wets and it really fell apart once the track started to dry.  We put the slicks back on and we were the fastest GT-style car on the track and were running the guys down.”

According to Johnson, he tried to prepare for night time racing at Le Mans as well as wet weather racing at the event on the simulator, but says that the real world action was a different animal all together.

“I tried (to prepare for these conditions) in the sim, but they can’t simulate rain like it really is. The night time (sim) driving was pretty useful and worked out well, but the sim is easy because you can’t get hurt. You just hit reset and you’re back on the track. Real life, real fear, real consequences make a big difference.”

Johnson says that he and the No. 24 team lost a lap during a safety car situation on track, but feels they have a shot at surpassing the top GT car in the field overall with the pace the car has right now.

“We had some unfortunate luck with the safety car that put us down a lap and we’re trying to get that lap back now,” Johnson said. “I really think we have a shot at the GT overall with this car. So just need to catch the safety car right to put us back on the lead lap and off we go.”

As Johnson exited the No. 24 machine, Mike Rockenfeller got back behind the wheel:

UPDATE #4 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 5:13 PM ET —

Jenson Button has completed his extended stint behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 entry.

After Button’s turn behind the wheel, the Garage 56 car has moved back up to 43rd position in the 62-car field. Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is back behind the wheel of the car now, and will look to work the car further up the running order.

Track conditions are a little moist, right now.

UPDATE #3 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 3:23 PM ET —

Things have gotten quite wild in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, as several on-track accidents in the wet caused the race to go into a caution period behind the safety car as track officials made repairs to barriers around the track.

Jenson Button remains in the NASCAR Garage 56 entry as his stint will be an extended one.

The NASCAR Garage 56 entry, which started the race from the 39th overall position has run around 44th for the majority of Button’s stint.

Button has had three pit stops in his stint so far, as the team has had to swap to intermediate tires when the rains began, and back to slicks after the track dried back out. The team has been tweaking the aero on the car as well.

“We were able to do a lot of testing with the vehicle before we got here and we recognized it was going to rain in June in France, but you never know where it’s going to rain or how much it’s going to rain,” Justin Fantozzi, Goodyear Global Race Tires Operation Manager said. “The intermediate tire is really good when it’s starting to dry out or when you only have a little bit of precipitation, and the wet tire is for when it is going to rain for awhile.

“Everything looked really good (with the intermediate tire). Jenson was quite pleased with the balance of the car, and everything was nice.”

UPDATE #2 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 12:49 PM ET —

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has completed his first stint behind the wheel of the No. 24 NASCAR Garage 56 entry in the Le Mans 24 Hours event. Johnson turned a total of 12 laps in his 58 minutes, and 54 seconds behind the wheel.

Johnson pulled into the pits for four tires and fuel, and then the California native made way for Jenson Button, who will now take his first turn behind the wheel in the race.

For Johnson, his first stint was an amazing experience, which came with wild action happening on the track.

“It was incredible. I had slow zones that took place with two or three big crashes on track. It was a totally different experience to work through those areas and take back off,” Johnson stated. “All in all, just an amazing experience. One of the slow zones, it was a very crowded area with the fans – they were waving at me so I was waving back. It was really really fun. I want every lap I can get. As long as they can keep me in the car, I’ll take it. Jenson is going to do a double, I’ll come back and do a double and then we’ll work from there.”

UPDATE #1 Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 11:51 AM ET —

LeBron James gives the command to drivers and cars rolled onto the grid at 9:55 AM ET for the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours. Here is a video of the start of the event, where James waved the French flag to signal the start of the iconic event:

Mike Rockenfeller had the first stint behind the wheel of the No. 24 NASCAR Garage 56 entry, which rolled from the 39th starting position, and he made 14 laps over the opening One hour, 13 minutes, and 13 seconds of the race.

As Rockenfeller made it to pit road, the team prepared Jimmie Johnson, who would slide in behind the wheel for his first-ever stint at Le Mans. Under this pit stop, the NASCAR Garage 56 entry took fuel and four tires, and after Johnson was strapped in, the car was back on track.

According to Rockenfeller, the opening stint of the race was treacherous due to conditions in the first chicane on the course. However, Rockenfeller says the Chevrolet Camaro is really good.

“It was a tricky stint with the first chicane down in Mulsanne completely wet,” Rockenfeller explained. “I just tried to make no mistakes, stay trouble free. It’s a long race so you don’t want to waste it in the first lap. The car feels good, balance-wise we have some issues because we thought it was going to rain more, so we adjusted the balance. But we will react to that later in the race and adjust tire pressure. I think the track will grip up again and I think we can go a bit faster from now on.”

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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