Earlier this week, Romain Grosjean joined his new NTT INDYCAR SERIES team, Juncos Hollinger Racing, as part of a three-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This weekend, he ventures a few hours north to Daytona International Speedway to compete in his second Rolex 24 At Daytona.
In last year’s race, Grosjean drove for Iron Lynx and with teammates with Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper. The foursome completed 728 laps and was one lap shy (third place completed 729 laps) of landing on the podium, coming home fourth in the GTD Pro class and 24th overall out of 61 cars.
Grosjean returns to the 3.56-mile Daytona road course with Iron Lynx in the No. 60 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 in the GTD Pro class. This time, he’s teaming with Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Matteo Cairoli.
They’ll start Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC) from 44th overall out of 59 entries. That’s not a statistic that’s detouring the team from its goal. This is an endurance race. The starting spot is just a number. For this race, a team must survive 24 hours of non-stop racing and see at the end where it stacks up.
That’s what makes this event fun for Grosjean.
“With Lamborghini, I've got Daytona 24 coming, which is also going to be fun with the GT3,” he said. “(This) is definitely a nice project alongside of INDYCAR. That's the main focus.”
Competing in this event helps Grosjean on the INDYCAR SERIES side by remaining sharp behind the wheel. He’s not alone in that thinking. Eleven of the top 13 drivers from the 2023 final INDYCAR SERIES points standings are in this season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Between live pit stops and getting the body and mind reacquainted with racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona is exactly what these drivers need to be sharp entering the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 10.
Grosjean is the reigning NTT P1 Award winner for the annual NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener on the St. Pete streets, but for his return trip in March, he’s unsure how he’ll stack up.
“I don't have an answer,” Grosjean said. “I think we have to see where we start in St. Pete, in Thermal, and then see where we can move from there.”
Grosjean notes Juncos Hollinger Racing remains in its infancy stage entering its third INDYCAR SERIES season. JHR also doesn’t have the benefit of veteran drivers with a decade of experience in the series, either. Grosjean has made 47 career starts since his debut in 2021 while teammate Agustin Canapino has one full season (17 races) under his belt.
Knocking on the door of top-10 finish in a race is something Grosjean thinks is attainable by season’s end. Grosjean is confident he and Canapino will develop good chemistry as teammates because they already get along well.
“I think we're both at a time in our life that is all about working together and working well for the team,” he said. “His first year in INDYCAR, there were some very impressive performances. There were some that were less good, but also you have to remember that INDYCAR has got so little testing that when you come as a rookie, it's not that easy.
“I'm excited to see what we can do together. I'm realistic of where we are and what we need to do. But it's INDYCAR, and everything can happen on track. We'll make sure that we seize every opportunity that we can.”
That sounds exactly like Grosjean’s strategy this Saturday and Sunday in a Lamborghini at Daytona.
Live coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona starts from 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC, continuing from 2:30-8 p.m. and 10-11:59 p.m. on the USA Network. Sunday coverage takes place from 6 a.m.-noon on USA and noon-2 p.m. on NBC. All 24 hours of the race will be streamed live on Peacock.