IndyCar drivers prepare to take on 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Sebastien Bourdais climbs into the No. 66 Ford GT he will drive in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Photo Credit: Chris Owens/Courtesy of IndyCar
Sebastien Bourdais climbs into the No. 66 Ford GT he will drive in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Photo Credit: Chris Owens/Courtesy of IndyCar /

Eight Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will be participating in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona sportscar race; here’s what IndyCar fans should know.

If you’re a Verizon IndyCar Series fan, don’t forget that some of IndyCar’s biggest names are participating in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, 2004 titleholder Tony Kanaan and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay are among the eight active drivers who have been drafted to join teams in the day-long sportscar endurance race that begins Saturday.

Almost all of them have storylines that will be of interest to their open-wheel racing fans.

Dixon and Kanaan, who helped lead Chip Ganassi Racing to an overall victory in 2015, are split up in 2016 to bolster the team’s Ford GT effort. CGR is running four GT entries at this year’s Rolex 24 with an IndyCar driver in each one.

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Sebastien Bourdais, who moved back to Dale Coyne Racing in the offseason, will co-drive the No. 67 CGR Ford that captured the GT Le Mans class pole position in Thursday’s qualifying session.

In the No. 67 will be Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, the former IndyCar regular who most recently filled in for James Hinchcliffe during his injury leave. Kanaan will co-drive the No. 69.

Elsewhere on the grid, fans will find Hinchcliffe co-driving the No. 70 Mazda Motorsports entry in the Prototype class. Ed Carpenter Racing’s road and street course specialist Spencer Pigot (who just re-upped his contract) is also driving for Mazda in the No. 55 car.

Another pair of IndyCar veterans will be driving for Michael Shank Racing in the GT Daytona class. Graham Rahal is back at the wheel of the No. 93 MSR Acura, while Hunter-Reay returns to co-drive the No. 86 MSR Acura and will be looking to improve upon his podium finish from last year:

Conor Daly, who left Coyne to become a part of AJ Foyt Enterprises, was a last-minute call-up who joins the No. 88 Starworks Motorsport team in the Prototype Challenge division. Per IndyCar, Daly found out he’d be joining Saturday’s race on Wednesday.

There are also a number of familiar names on the roster who aren’t current league drivers but who have been in the past, including Scott Sharp, Scott Pruitt, Sage Karam, Katherine Legge, Tristan Vautier, and RC Enerson. So if you’re a fan of IndyCar it’s worth checking out the Rolex 24 action this weekend just to see how drivers past and present are doing.

They’ll be in entirely different vehicles with different teammates, providing an experience for themselves – and the fans – that you won’t get to see at any other race.

Can Dixon, Kanaan, or Bourdais lead the Ford GT to victory and complete its resurgence? How will Daly do having to jump into an endurance race with so little lead time? Can some of those former drivers show well and potentially put themselves on the radar for Indianapolis 500 drivers or other opportunities later this season?

There’s a myriad of storylines, and thankfully fans will be able to keep up with the action every step of the way thanks to a broadcast deal between IMSA and Fox Sports that has the Rolex 24 on TV for almost the entire event.

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The 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona takes place Saturday and Sunday from Daytona International Speedway. The race will be broadcast all weekend long on the Fox Sports family of networks, starting with FOX at 2 p.m. ET Saturday; check your local listings for specific broadcast times and channels in your area.