Jimmy Johnson Tests Indy Car In Texas, Still Doesn’t Commit To Owls

  • Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmy Johnson took part in his first full oval test at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, taking more than six hours at the wheel.
  • He will approach the decision to compete in next season’s Indy 500 after a combination of tire testing and rookie orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October.
  • As he kicks off the end of his first season—albeit a part-time endeavor—Johnson said on Tuesday he wants to continue racing in IndyCar before the 2022 season.

    For a man who won one of his 83 NASCAR Cups on the oval, Jimmy Johnson says he’s “definitely a step closer” to adding the oval to his IndyCar plate next season.

    While it may be on just one oval, the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway—and at the largest oval race in the world, the Indianapolis 500.

    “I think there’s going to be more talks with family, team and sponsors, at least one more test session before I can really make a decision,” Johnson said on Tuesday, but I’m only interested in driving the car tomorrow. increased.” Morning media teleconference.

    Johnson took part in his first full oval test at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, with more than six hours behind the wheel. He is expected to move closer to a decision to compete in next season’s Indy 500 after a combination of tire tests and rookie orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October.

    (Video Courtesy Texas Motor Speedway):

    But there’s also a possibility that he could focus solely on Indy and skip the other ovals in Texas—which come to Iowa and Gateway—along with Indy on next year’s schedule.

    “Right now it’s really Indy’s path,” said Johnson, on what his focus was on. “There are still so many obstacles between now and one event that it’s hard to see others at this point. I’ll need to face that decision and that opportunity in the near future, and we’ll see how this next testing session goes.” And that’s really how everything aligns.”

    Jimmy Johnson IndyCar

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    He also admitted that he is concerned about how his car – and he – will react in traffic on an oval for the first time during upcoming testing at IMS (Monday’s test only involved his car).

    “I’ve thought about it a lot,” Johnson said. “I know how cup cars work in traffic.[They]have a little bit of experience in traffic with IndyCar on some very high speeds on a road course. But it’s a good question and I’m not sure I have it. The answer is because I’m questioning myself right now.”

    Regardless of what — if any — he runs the oval next season, Johnson will still run all road and roadway events, as he has this season. There are three races remaining in the current IndyCar schedule, all of which Johnson will participate in: the season finale in Portland (September 12), Laguna Seca (September 19) and Long Beach (September 26).

    Johnson admitted it suffered in his rookie IndyCar season. So far, the driver of the number 48 Carvana American Legion Honda owned by Chip Ganassi Racing has taken nine of the 13 races with a best finish of 19th place at the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park and again in the most recent race. Indianapolis Grand Prix.

    Johnson, who turns 46 on September 17, had initially planned to compete in IndyCar for two years, before continuing on past 2022. As he nears the end of his first season—albeit a part-time endeavor—Johnson said on Tuesday that he wants to continue racing after the 2022 season.

    Texas IndyCar Jimmy Johnson Oval Nascar

    Jimmy Johnson walks to the track for his oval test on August 30 at Texas Motor Speedway.

    Texas Motor Speedway

    “I’m delighted to go on record and run the number of years in the NTT IndyCar Series that Chip (team owner Chip Ganassi) will have me and I can get sponsorship,” Johnson said. “Every rep I get in the car, I’m only going to get better. If I were to be back in ’23, I think those hopes would rise again, and my performance would still be better. I intend to.” That’s to stick around for as long as I can.”

    For Monday’s test, it began at 6 a.m. CT and continued for several hours before Johnson, who shaved his long beard before moving to Texas, had to fly to Phoenix for a corporate appearance.

    “The day went really well, I really enjoyed it,” Johnson said. “The first few outings were definitely quite different with the pace around the racetrack, the feel of the race car and how nimble and light the car is.

    “But as soon as I worked through my second set of tires, the car started to feel at home and definitely felt at home on the track and on the oval. By the end of the testing session, I was very comfortable and a Felt in a very familiar place, which was nice.”

    In the event-free overall race, Johnson’s top one-lap speed was over 214 mph, which would have taken him to fourth place when he competed in the 2020 IndyCar race at TMS.

    “We were really conservative with our approach and just working things into it. Run a few laps, get out of the car, look at the data, let it in, walk again.”

    But what he remembers from driving on the oval in his NASCAR days was quite different in an Indy car.

    “I thought it would be a little different in an Indy car like driving on the oval,” Johnson said. “In some cases in the cup car, although you’re going slow, you’re on that rough edge.

    “I need to experience in Indy.”

    “I did a test, so it’s probably unfair to even make that statement, but my impression was that I need to run it like NASCAR and just wait, hold your breath every single lap, and obviously it’s not That’s how fast you go in Indy cars.

    “I needed to experience in Indy. I remember qualifying all these different years and just holding my breath for these guys. I had to experience it before I could even decide to race. Need to do it and see how it pans out for me.”

    Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

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