2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, more

Nate Ryan
·6 min read

The 59th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the unofficial annual start to the auto racing season, will begin ramping up its schedule this week.

The 24-hour sports car endurance classic will attract a typically star-studded field that will include NASCAR and IndyCar champions and winners of the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500.

In a scheduling twist, the Roar before the Rolex 24 — a preseason test session that usually takes place during the first week of January — will lead directly into the main event this season.

And for the first time in the event’s history, it will be capped by a 100-minute qualifying race Jan. 24 that will set the starting grid for the Rolex 24.

Here’s what you need to know about IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 30-31 at Daytona International Speedway:

WHAT’S NEW

There are numerous driver and manufacturer changes in the premier DPi division, starting with the two-time defending Rolex 24 at Daytona winner.

Wayne Taylor Racing has switched from Cadillac to Acura and also brought in new full-time drivers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque. Joining the No. 10 at Daytona will be Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi.

The split of Acura and Team Penske also will result in Meyer Shank Racing moving into the prototype class to run an Acura.

Chip Ganassi Racing will return to IMSA, fielding a Cadillac for Renger van der Zande (a winner in the past two Rolex 24s with WTR) and Kevin Magnussen (who arrives after four seasons with the Haas F1 team).

In the GTLM division, the exit of Porsche (which will focus on returning in the LMDh class in 2023) has led to some driver shuffling. Nick Tandy has remained in GTLM with Corvette Racing, while Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor have moved to GTD.

In addition to the new Rolex 24 qualifying race, IMSA also has several other wrinkles for the 2021 season, including a new points structure (that increases totals by a factor of 10 and includes points for qualifying) and a new class in LMP3.

NOTABLE DRIVER ADDITIONS

Per usual, the Rolex 24 has attracted numerous drivers in other disciplines who will be paired with full-time IMSA drivers.

Here’s a few of the stars crossing over from other series to the sports car classic that will open the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season:

NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger

INDYCAR: Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Colton Herta, J.R. Hildebrand

OTHERS (veterans of WEC, F1, DTM, etc.): Kamui Kobayashi, Robert Kubica, Kevin Magnussen (joining Ganassi’s team full time)

CAR COUNT

There are 50 cars on the entry list for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. That’s up from a record-low 38 cars in 2020.

The addition of a new LMP3 class and growth of the LMP2 and GTD divisions have offset some departures in DPi and GTLM.

Click here for the Rolex 24 entry list.

RACE BROADCAST

The Rolex 24 at Daytona will be shown flag to flag via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. It also will be streamed on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Broadcast coverage of the race coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 30 on NBC and then move to NBCSN from 4:30-8 p.m. ET. Coverage will move to the NBC Sports App from 8-11 p.m. ET and then back to NBCSN from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET on Jan. 31.

Coverage will move to the NBC Sports App from 3-6 a.m. ET and then to NBCSN from 6 a.m.-2 p.m. ET.

The Jan. 31 conclusion of the race will run from 2-4 p.m. ET on NBC.

DAILY SCHEDULE

Here’s a rundown of everything happening at Daytona International Speedway, starting with the Roar before the Rolex 24 test session this weekend.

Friday, Jan. 22

7 a.m. — Garage opens

9-9:45 a.m. — Prototype Challenge practice

10-11:15 a.m. — Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

2-2:30 p.m. — Prototype Challenge practice

2:45-4:15 p.m. — Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

4:15-5:30 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (4:15-4:45, GTD silver/bronze; LMP3, LMP2 bronze; 4:45-5:15, all GTD, LMP2, LMP3; 4:30-5:30, GTLM/DPi)

8 p.m. — Garage closes

Saturday, Jan. 23

7 a.m. — Garage opens

8:45-9 a.m. — Prototype Challenge qualifying

9:15-10:15 a.m. — Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

10:30-11:30 a.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

12:50-2:35 p.m. — IMSA Prototype Challenge at Daytona race

3-4:05 p.m. — Qualifying for Motul Pole Award 100 (3-3:15, GTD, 3:25-3:40, LMP3; 3:50-4:05, DPi)

4:25-5:20 p.m. — Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

7-9 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

10 p.m. — Garage closes

Sunday, Jan. 24

7 a.m. — Garage opens

10-10:20 a.m. — Motul 100 warmup (all classes)

10:35-11:50 a.m. — MIchelin Pilot Challenge practice

2:05-3:45 p.m. — Motul 100 Pole Award qualifying race for the Rolex 24 at Daytona (100 minutes)

7 p.m. — Garage closes

Monday, Jan. 25-Tuesday, Jan. 26

8 a.m.-5 p.m. — Garages open

Wednesday, Jan. 27

6 a.m. — Garages open

1:45-2:45 p.m. — Michelin Challenge practice

3-3:30 p.m. — MX-5 practice

6:45 p.m. — Garages close

Thursday Jan. 28

7 a.m. — Garages open

9-9:30 a.m. — MX-5 practice

9:45-10:45 a.m. — Michelin Challenge practice

11:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

12:25-12:55 p.m. — MX-5 qualifying

2:25-3 p.m. — Michelin Challenge qualifying

3:20-4:35 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (3:20-3:50, GTD silver/bronze; LMP3, LMP2 bronze; 3:35-4:35, GTLM, DPI; 3:50-4:20, all drivers)

5-5:45 p.m. — MX-5, Race #1

7:15-9 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

Friday, Jan. 29

7 a.m. — Garages open

9:25-9:55 a.m. — Michelin Challenge practice

10:15-11 a.m. — MX-5 Race #2

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m. — Rolex 24 practice (all classes)

1:35-5:35 p.m. — BMW Endurance Challenge

Saturday, Jan. 30

8:30 a.m. — Garages open

1:50-2:45 p.m. — Grid cars in reverse order: GTD/GTLM-LMP3/LMP2/DPi

3:40 p.m. — Rolex 24 at Daytona green flag

Sunday, Jan. 31

3:40 p.m. — Rolex 24 at Daytona checkered flag

7:30 p.m. — Garages close

2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, more originally appeared on NBCSports.com