Once again, Jeff Gordon has come out of retirement and once again he’s in the Rolex 24 At Daytona field. As a high-profile part of the Wayne Taylor Racing lineup that will co-drive a new Cadillac DPi in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s headlining Prototype class, Gordon is at Daytona International Speedway this week for a two-day test session in advance of the Jan. 28-29 sports car endurance classic.
Gordon will co-drive the No. 10 Cadillac with Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli. It will be Gordon’s second appearance in the Rolex 24; in 2007 he co-drove a Pontiac Riley with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Jan Magnussen to a third-place finish.
After retiring from NASCAR competition following the 2015 season, Gordon returned for eight races this year as a substitute for his former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was recovering from a concussion. Gordon’s return to sports cars, surprising on the surface, probably shouldn’t be; he had talked in the past about racing in the Rolex 24 again.
“I had so much fun the first time I did this,” Gordon said. “And at this point of my life and career [winning the Rolex 24] would be huge. When I came here in 2007 I was just kind of along for the ride.
“When you really realize how important this race is, is on race day when you see the hype and buildup and then the challenges you face over 24 hours. That’s what makes this race so thrilling. I’d be very proud [if we won].”
The DPi (Daytona Prototype international) entries are new to the WeatherTech Championship this year. Four DPi cars highlight a solid turnout of 29 cars across Prototype, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes this week.
The No. 10 Cadillac had some telemetry issues initially on Tuesday, delaying its on-track debut at DIS. In the afternoon it was able to make some short runs on the 3.56-mile DIS road course. Gordon’s stint in the car resulted in one of the fastest laps of the day.
“I anticipated being comfortable here because I’ve run here before [in a sports car],” Gordon said.
This week’s test is the second of three preseason sessions for the Rolex 24, IMSA’s season-opening event. The first test was Nov. 15-16. The final test will be the annual “Roar Before the Rolex 24” on Jan. 6-8.
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