AJ Allmendinger
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Strong NASCAR presence at IMSA opener

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — From executives at the driver’s meeting to drivers on pit road to competitors handing television duty, there was a broad NASCAR presence at the Rolex 24 Saturday morning as teams awaited the green flag. 

Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was pit side checking in with the Wayne Taylor Racing team, with whom he won the 2017 Rolex 24 race. Former NASCAR Cup Series driver and Xfinity Series champion Brian Vickers was on pit road catching up with friends as was driver David Ragan, who said this was the first Rolex 24 he ever attended and he would be open to competing in a future race.

RELATED: Photos from the Rolex 24 | History of NASCAR drivers in Rolex 24

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is entered in the GTD Class No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Acura and former Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger, who is driving the No. 57 Acura NSX for Michael Shank Racing.

NASCAR on NBC’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Letarte manned the NBC broadcast.

“I’ll drive with Junior and maybe we could get Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart,” Gordon told Earnhardt and Letarte on the NBC Sports broadcast, joking about coming back to the Rolex 24 and running the race again with a NASCAR lineup.

“My number one goal when I was here, whether it was testing, whether back at shop doing pit practice or here in the race, don’t be the weak link,’’ Gordon said of his experience a couple seasons ago. “Unfortunately, first time I got in the car, I was the weak link. “I had to restart the car and we were leading under caution. I went into Turn 2 in the horseshoe and hit a guy and I hadn’t even been in the car five minutes. Luckily, I made up for that and the rest of my race went really well and I wasn’t the weak link.”