‘Le Monster’ takes on Le Mans in NASCAR by capturing the iconic race

The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” as the NASCAR 24 Hours of Le Mans lineup drove through downtown in a Chevrolet Camaro convertible. titled “Le Monster”, will attempt to make the world’s most iconic endurance race during the event’s centenary celebrations.

The wait ended Saturday afternoon when NBA superstar LeBron James waved the French flag and then gave the command “Pilots, Demarres, Motors” to start the race.

German driver Mike Rockenfeller, a two-time Le Mans winner, started the race twice around the clock at number 1. The 24 Camaro is fielded by Hendrick Motorsports as part of seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson and 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button. The race was NASCAR’s first Le Mans entry since 1976.

NASCAR’s effort has been surprising all week – its V8 engine is growling and much louder than any other 62-car car – and Rockenfeller qualified it over three seconds faster than the entire GTE AM class. His qualifying lap was rewarded when race officials decided that the Garage 56 competitor would not start last in the field as planned; Chevy led 21 entrants in the GTE class due to a speed mismatch.

This put the car in 39th place at the start, but as NASCAR is releasing its Next Gen car for the second year in a dedicated “Innovation Car” class designed to showcase technology and development, participation is not in competition with any other cars. Nevertheless, Hendrik’s crew set themselves the goal of at least finishing the race, and maybe even getting around the cars of other classes.

“It was incredible,” Johnson said after his nearly hour stay. “All in all, just an amazing experience. One of the slow areas, it was a very crowded place with fans – they waved at me and I waved back. It was really a lot of fun .I want every lap I can go.

“As long as they can keep me in the car, I’ll take it.”

Ferrari’s two-car effort resulted in the field turning green in celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Le Mans, marked by a military overflight of aircraft leaving plumes of smoke in the colors of the French flag in front of French President Emmanuel Macron. But from James as the official starter to future NASCAR Hall of Famer Johnson, there was a heavy American feel to the race.

Top-class sports cars from the United States were allowed to compete this year under a convergence of rules that created a new hybrid hyperclass that brought manufacturers to the IMSA and the World Endurance Championship to showcase their hybrid and electric technologies.

That took Roger Penske to Le Mans with three Porsches as the 86-year-old races to win his first ever Le Mans. Penske won the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 last month – for the first time – and currently holds the NASCAR Cup title and IndyCar championship.

Chip Ganassi had a pair of Cadillacs racing for the overall win that included six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, and Action Express Racing, a team backed by NASCAR and IMSA owner Jim France, also had a Cadillac.

However, the start of the race for France was a mixed one with the No. 1. 31 Cadillac crashing on the first lap while France celebrated the stock car circling the Circuit de la Sarthe. At the start of the race, the car was driven by Jack Aitken, a British former Williams F1 reserve driver.

All the hypercars were chasing the Toyota Gazoo, which has won the overall title for the past five years. Despite Ferrari starting with two cars in the front row, Toyota was in the lead before the first ride was completed on the 8,467-mile (13,626 km) track.

Privately, many teams recognized that the only way to beat Toyota was if two of its cars failed to complete the race, and this allowed the focus to shift to NASCAR and its all-star show.

This project briefly caused controversy in NASCAR because Ford, Toyota and all the teams were stunned last March when France announced they were taking the car to Le Mans along with Hendrick, Chevrolet and Goodyear, the best team, manufacturer and manufacturer tires in series 75. years

The problem was that a brand new car was involved in the project and employees were given unparalleled access to Next Gen while everyone else was subjected to strict testing regulations. France immediately calmed the industry by granting access to any data collected by Hendrick and Chevrolet, but as project leader Chad Knaus tried to build a car worthy of its place in the race, the final product was heavily modified from what is currently used in the Cup Series. .

The systems and components of the Le Mans model are very similar to the Next Gen car, although it has functioning headlights and taillights. The main difference between entering Le Mans is that it is about 500 pounds (226 kg) lighter than the Cup car, has a larger fuel tank of about 12 gallons (45 liters) due to track length, carbon brake discs and Goodyear tires , designed specifically for this race.

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