The annual winter festival of speed at Daytona International Speedway officially kicks off this weekend with a stellar prelude to NASCAR’s Speedweeks: The 57th edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The season opener for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will bring an all-star field of drivers and cars for the twice-around-the-clock classic. Here’s a point-by-point glimpse at the endurance event, with format, tune-in information and all the details as IMSA kicks off its 50th anniversary season and motorsports roars back to life at Daytona.
What: 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the first race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
When: Race starts Saturday, Jan. 26, 2:35 p.m. ET, and ends Sunday, Jan. 27, 2:35 p.m. ET.
Where: Daytona International Speedway, 3.56-mile combined tri-oval and road course.
How to watch: NBCSN plans extensive live coverage, starting Saturday with a pre-race show at 1 p.m. ET. Supplemental coverage will come through the NBC Sports App and IMSA.tv for around-the-clock broadcasting. Information for radio and international broadcasts can be found here. The full TV broadcast schedule is listed below.
RELATED: Where to watch the Rolex 24
Divisions: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is divided into four classes, all competing on the track at the same time. Those four divisions include two prototype classes — Daytona Prototype International (DPi) and Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) — and two sports-car classes — Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD).
Preliminary events: The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, split into Grand Sport (GS) and Touring Car (TCR) classes, will host the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday, January 25 (12:15 p.m. ET, IMSA.tv). The Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition will feature classic sports cars from IMSA’s past turning laps Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
2018 winners: The Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi took overall honors with drivers Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque.
SHOP: Rolex 24 gear
Cars: A total of 13 manufacturers will participate in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s four classes. The number of automakers grows to 19 when including the Michelin Pilot Challenge series. The full list: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagen.
NASCAR involvement: No current Monster Energy Series drivers are entered in the 24-hour event, but plenty of drivers and teams with their hands in the stock-car world are participating. Among them are longtime NASCAR team owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, who both will field two cars.
The NBC Sports broadcast crew will also feature some familiar faces from their NASCAR coverage team. Among them are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Krista Voda on the Peacock Pit Box, plus Rick Allen, Dave Burns, Parker Kligerman, Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Rutledge Wood.
A list of the Rolex 24 participants with NASCAR ties:
• Acura Team Penske will field the Nos. 6 and 7 Acuras in the DPi class. Former Monster Energy Series competitor Juan Pablo Montoya, a three-time Rolex 24 overall winner, will be a part of the three-driver effort for the No. 6 team.
• Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will field the Nos. 66 and 67 Ford GTs in the GTLM class.
• AJ Allmendinger and Justin Marks will team up with Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman in the Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian No. 86 Acura NSX GT3. Allmendinger, who was a regular Monster Energy Series participant for the last 12 seasons, has one overall Rolex 24 win (2012). Marks, a one-time Xfinity winner with starts in all three NASCAR national divisions, notched a Rolex 24 class win in 2009.
• Austin Cindric, a NASCAR Xfinity Series regular for Team Penske, will compete in the AIM Vasser Sullivan entry in GTD class, co-driving the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3.
• Andy Lally, NASCAR’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year in its premier series in 2011, will be part of a four-driver effort in the Magnus Racing No. 44 GTD Lamborghini. Lally is a five-time class winner in the Rolex 24.
• Katherine Legge, who got her first taste of NASCAR with four Xfinity Series starts last season, will participate in the Heinricher Racing w/Meyer Shank Racing No. 57 Acura NSX GT3.
• Colin Braun, a one-time Truck Series winner in 2009 who also has Xfinity Series experience, will team up in the CORE Autosport No. 54 DPi Nissan entry.
FULL BROADCAST SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, Jan. 24
- 2 p.m.: 2019 IMSA Season Preview (NBCSN)
- 3-5 p.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying (NBCSN)
- 3:25-4:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying (IMSA.tv)
Friday, Jan. 25
- 12:05 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona (IMSA.tv)
Saturday, Jan. 26
- 1-2 p.m.: 2019 Season Preview Show (NBCSN re-air)
- 2-5 p.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona (NBCSN)
- 5-9 p.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona (NBC Sports App)
- 9 p.m.-3 a.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona (NBCSN)
- 2:25-11:55 p.m.: Rolex 24 at Daytona (IMSA.tv)
Sunday, Jan. 27