This weekend is the first in five weeks without any NTT INDYCAR SERIES on-track action, as series drivers and teams are taking a short break from the feverish pace of the Month of May and Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.
But not every driver is lounging by the pool or aiming to lower their golf handicap this weekend: Season champions and Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud are in France to drive Saturday and Sunday in the world’s most prestigious endurance sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Six-time series champion Dixon will make his fifth career start in the landmark 100th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic on the La Sarthe circuit. But this will be the first time he has a chance to add overall Le Mans victory to his resume that also includes triumph in the 2008 Indy 500 and two overall wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (2015, 2020).
Dixon is competing with Cadillac Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R hybrid prototype in the premier Hypercar category. His co-drivers are former INDYCAR SERIES rival Sebastien Bourdais and sports car veteran Renger Van Der Zande. The same trio finished third overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
“I’m excited to go back to Le Mans,” Dixon said. “It’s been a few years and my first time to go in the premier class. Competing with the Hypercar brings a totally different level to it. It’s a difficult race and having the opportunity to win with the Cadillac LMDh is very special.”
The team faces an uphill climb, though as the No. 3 Cadillac burst into flames during qualifying Thursday with Bourdais behind the wheel. His best time was disqualified for forcing a red flag due to the fire, and the team will start eighth on the Hypercar grid.
Dixon’s best finish in his four previous Le Mans starts was third in the GTE Pro class during his Le Mans debut in 2016 in CGR’s Ford GT.
2016 series champion and 2019 Indy 500 winner Pagenaud returns to his homeland for his fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans start and his first since 2011. He is co-driving with Reshad de Gerus and Vladislav Lomko in the No. 47 Cool Racing Oreca-Gibson prototype in the LMP2 class. That class may be the toughest of the three categories to win, with an event-high 24 entries.
Pagenaud previous four starts came in the premier LMP1 class, with a best finish of second overall in 2011 for the Peugeot factory team.
While Dixon and Pagenaud are the only active NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers competing this weekend on the 8.467-mile circuit, which includes closed public roads, there are other INDYCAR ties.
Team Penske will aim for its first overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the very few iconic motorsports trophies still missing from its trophy case. The team finished fifth last year in its first entry since 1971.
This year, Penske Porsche Motorsport is fielding three Porsche 963 prototypes in the Hypercar category, one more car than any other team in the premier class.
In the LMP2 class, 17-year-old INDY NXT by Firestone rookie Josh Pierson will continue with his World Endurance Championship (WEC) duties behind the wheel of the No. 23 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson with co-drivers Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis.
Finally, 2022 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Jimmie Johnson joins 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button and sports car veteran Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as the sole car in the Innovative class for unique vehicles. The “Garage 56” entry is a NASCAR Cup Series car, the first time a NASCAR stock car has competed in this event since 1976.
MotorTrend TV and its streaming service, MotorTrend+, are providing complete live coverage of the race starting at 10 a.m. ET Saturday through the checkered flag at 10 a.m. Sunday.