Jimmie Johnson passes IndyCar oval rookie test at Texas

NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson has completed his IndyCar Series oval orientation programme at Texas Motor Speedway.

While the initial plan had been for the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion to first sample an IndyCar at the Homestead oval, he and the Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda team elected to run the test on a track at which IndyCar still competes.

It’s anticipated that Johnson, who has a road/street course-only schedule in his maiden season of IndyCar racing, will contest all tracks on the 2022 schedule.

Johnson, who won at Texas Motor Speedway seven times in his NASCAR Cup career, started his seven-hour test at 6am local time in 75F conditions. The test ran until just after 1pm “with a heat index of nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit” according to the track’s press release.

The 45-year-old said: “To know that I could come here and test and experience it as a driver was important to me. Let’s go to the tough one. It’s one thing by myself.

“I feel like I can control my environment, and I’m very thankful that I’m able to go out here and do it. The way IndyCar has advanced their safety and certainly what the tracks have done to increase the safety, my concerns are much less and that’s why we’re here today.

“Now that my concerns are at a certain point, now it’s time to get in the car and see what my point of view is from there.

“The car drives way different. It’s much more responsive so I’ve found the majority of the day just trying to acclimate to this new environment, one that’s much faster and certainly a bit more sensitive to the inputs that the driver gives to the car.

“But it’s been really nice to be on a familiar track. I know where I am, I know what to do, I know the line around this place, and even down to simple things like knowing where the hotel was last night or knowing how to drive into the tunnel and get into the infield. There’s been some small wins that are nice to have.”

Chip's chargers - Dario Franchitti, Jimmie Johnson, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan.

Chip's chargers - Dario Franchitti, Jimmie Johnson, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan.

Photo by: Texas Motor Speedway

Johnson’s progress was overseen by three champion team-mates, with six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon – who has also scored five wins at TMS – completing the car’s initial shakedown laps. Also present were the team’s driver coach, four-time champion Dario Franchitti, and the driver with whom Johnson shares the #48 Carvana entry, Tony Kanaan.

Mid-session, Franchitti commented: “It’s a challenging thing that Jimmie’s doing but so far he’s done very well. Track conditions were a little nicer this morning at 6am when Scott went out and those early runs Jimmie did, but it’s heated up now, and he’s learning a little bit about how the Indycar slides around a bit when it gets hot.

“It’s all about the subtleties. It would be like a person that plays cricket and plays for the English team or whatever … it’s got a bat, it’s got a ball. Then I’m going to play baseball. It’s got a bat, it’s got a ball. Everything else is different, and I think that’s the difference between a stock car and an Indy car.

“Everything you learn on the way up, and everything you learn when you’re the top in either of those fields doesn’t prepare you in any way to do the other. In fact, it hurts you.”

There will be four ovals on the IndyCar schedule in 2022 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway – although Johnson and the Ganassi team have yet to confirm his participation in them.

shares
comments

Related video

IndyCar writer and broadcaster Robin Miller passes away aged 71
Previous article

IndyCar writer and broadcaster Robin Miller passes away aged 71

Next article

Johnson aims to race in IndyCar 'for as long as Ganassi will have me'

Johnson aims to race in IndyCar 'for as long as Ganassi will have me'
How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled Plus

How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled

Chip Ganassi Racing team was strong again in the Indianapolis 500, with poleman Scott Dixon and reigning champion Alex Palou leading almost three quarters of the race between them. But when dominator Dixon was penalised for pitlane speeding, ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson stepped up to score the biggest win of his career and seize the IndyCar points lead

IndyCar
May 30, 2022
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021