Johnson closer to committing to full season after Indy oval test

Jimmie Johnson is “as close as I’ve ever been” to adding IndyCar ovals to his 2022 schedule, after nearing the end of his Indianapolis Motor Speedway rookie orientation program.

Johnson closer to committing to full season after Indy oval test

The rookie orientation program for the Indy 500 requires a driver to turn 10 laps of 205-210mph, 15 laps of 210-215 mph, then 15 over 215mph.

Johnson completed Phases I and II, but still had a few laps left of Phase III when rain, which had already delayed the process, returned to the Speedway and ended the day early.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver will be able to complete the requirements in the open test at IMS on April 20-21.

Asked if the experience had increased his desire to attempt to qualify for next May’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Johnson replied: “It’s definitely, definitely increased. I think the look I had at Texas [Johnson’s oval rookie test] increased it and brought me here.

“As comfortable as I felt, my interest is at the highest it's been, certainly my comfort is at the highest it's been. All that said, there's still a lot of work between now and really pulling through with this opportunity.”

In terms of actually committing to the 500 – and indeed, adding all the IndyCar ovals to his 2022 diary after a road/street course-only diet in ’21 – he said: “I can't just yet. I need to leave here today, go home, sit down, get a good bottle of wine open, maybe even pull [Jimmy] Vasser's bottles off the shelf.

“I'm as close as I've ever been. The racer in me is taking a real serious look at this, but I still need to sit down and have that conversation at home.”

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Joe Skibinski

The 46-year-old said that doing the ovals this past year “would have been a much easier pathway for me. Now that I'm looking to do it, there's still a lot of work to be done.

"Even if I say, ‘Hey, everyone, I'm in,’ we still have a lot of work to get done just to pull it off.

“That aspect, it would have been easier to make this decision a year sooner. But I really had to go through what I have to get comfortable with in IndyCar, hit a couple walls.

"Hitting the wall at 180 in Nashville – as much as I hated doing it, it was a good data point for me. Also for my family to be around these cars, the industry.

"Seeing a couple bad crashes this year, seeing what the aeroscreen has done to protect Ryan Hunter-Reay at Barber when the wheel assembly came back into the windscreen.”

Johnson, an 18-time participant in and four-time winner of the Brickyard 400, said: “Once I got through the notion of downshifting and upshifting through the course of the lap, the speed at which things were coming at me, the driving line, the technique, even the behaviour of the car in different turns around the racetrack was all very familiar to me.

“I think I ran 55 laps or so, not only focusing on running lap times to work through the phases but also feeling changes we made on the car. I was excited personally to go through that and understand what minus rear wing feels like, less front wing feels like.

“While I stood and watched last year, I would hear those changes being made. It would make me pucker up. It was nice to get out there and attach a feeling to that.”

shares
comments

Related video

Grosjean keen to learn from Castroneves and new Andretti team-mates

Previous article

Grosjean keen to learn from Castroneves and new Andretti team-mates

Next article

Harvey confirmed for RLL's third entry for IndyCar 2022

Harvey confirmed for RLL's third entry for IndyCar 2022
Load comments
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
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over Plus

Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over

OPINION: The 2021 IndyCar silly season has been one of the silliest for many years, as many talented drivers remain in play – with new pieces to the puzzle being added all the time. Here's what we know so far about who will end up where in 2022

IndyCar
Sep 15, 2021
Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears Plus

Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears

OPINION: The rise of two drivers racing only their second full-season IndyCar campaigns to head the points with four races to go has led to some observers doubting the credentials of the old guard. But they haven't faded away, there's merely a deeper talent pool that is helping to make this season one of the best in recent years

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021