NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports' recent collaboration to showcase the sport on a global level came earlier this year in the form of Garage 56. The latest development for the 2023 entry into the prestigious endurance race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France came on Tuesday after notable figures from Hendrick Motorsports visited the 24hr race last month.
Chad Knaus, the former crew chief and current Vice President of Competition at the Charlotte, North Carolina-based outfit, attended the race for a second consecutive year. The observations made at the event will be key in shaping the team's approach to the program. Knaus also serves as the Program Manager for the Garage 56 entry in 2023, thus making his inputs key.
The next step towards NASCAR making its debut at Le Mans comes in the form of manufacturing a working test car, said Knaus. Assistance from IMSA competitor Action Express Racing will help the project take shape, as the 50-year-old elaborated:
“We will try to make sure that the implementation of the things we’ve changed that are different than the Next Gen stock car are functional and correct and work the way they are supposed to. If there are performance things we need to change or durability things we need to change, we start to get those implemented so that when we do build the real car probably around November it starts coming together that there are parts that are more tried and true as opposed to concept.”
With the 2023 NASCAR schedule yet to be released, Knaus did not divulge any details about who could be seen behind the wheel of the car. He said:
“We are a long ways away from (naming drivers).”
Jimmie Johnson is a likely candidate for NASCAR's Garage 56 entry into 2023 Le Mans
Former NASCAR Cup Series champion and current NTT IndyCar Series driver Jimmie Johnson has been one of the few names that have come up to drive for Hendrick Motorsports at Le Mans next year. The #48 Carvana Dallara-Honda driver awaits confirmation of the 2023 schedule for the open-wheeled series so that he can make his foray into the world of endurance racing.
Johnson elaborated on his future plans with Nate Ryan of NBC Sports and said:
“I want to go to Le Mans, it would be an amazing experience to go with Hendrick and Action Express and the way this whole partnership works, but I think so much really hinges on the (IndyCar) schedule being released to understand if I can, and also from a team standpoint, what drivers would be at the top of their list. I feel like the interest is really high on both sides.”
In the meantime, NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart.