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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

NASCAR Garage 56 set for 12-hour Daytona test before Sebring race-run attempt

The NASCAR-inspired Garage 56 entry for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will switch focus to endurance running at Daytona on Wednesday.

NASCAR Garage 56 Le Mans entry being tested at Virginia International Raceway

The Next Gen-based Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which has been built by Hendrick Motorsports to represent NASCAR at Le Mans for its centenary race in 2023, has tested at road courses across America to increase its performance level up to sportscar standards.

Now that program manager Chad Knaus is content about the car’s potential, attention will now turn to the endurance side to prove out its ability in lasting for the demands of the French sportscar classic.

The car began a two-day test at Daytona’s road course on Tuesday, which includes acclimatizing recently-confirmed third driver Jenson Button alongside Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller, before testing the car’s new headlights when darkness descends.

“The goal is to try to get about 12 hours of straight runtime in [on Wednesday],” said Knaus. “Obviously that will encroach into the evening hours, so we’re excited to see how that works. This is the first time they put headlights in a NASCAR car since however many years ago, we’ve worked on them at the shop, we’ve done preliminary testing and we’re excited.

“So a 12-hour straight test here on Day 2, and we’ve got a bunch of setup things too. From an overall design standpoint, we feel like we’re pretty close with this car – you’ve got to draw a line in the sand at some point.

“Then we’re going to Sebring at the end of next month and the goal is to run 18-24 hours straight at Sebring. If you can do that at Sebring, you’re getting pretty close [to what’s expected at Le Mans]. And we’ll be sharing the track with some other classes of cars there, so that will be good for us to get around cars, to pass and be passed.”

Hendrick Motorsports, Garage 56, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Hendrick Motorsports, Garage 56, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Hendrick Motorsports

Knaus says he’s happy with the test program to date, which has included running at Virginia International Raceway and Sebring.

“It’s been amazing, almost 2000 miles of testing to date,” he said. “We’ve had one day of rain at every test we’ve done, you couldn’t have scripted it. From my NASCAR world it would suck, right?

“Honestly for road course racing, and what we’re trying to do, our partners at Goodyear had a great opportunity to see what the car does and doesn’t like in wet weather. We’re working on wipers, we’re working on brakes – so testing has been really great.”

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