Jimmie Johnson passes IndyCar oval rookie test at Texas

IndyCar rookie but NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson has completed his oval orientation program at Texas Motor Speedway.

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

It’s anticipated that Johnson, who is a road/street course-only drive in this, his initial season of IndyCar racing, will move on to compete at all tracks on the 2022 IndyCar schedule.

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

Said Johnson: “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.”

Johnson’s progress was overseen by three champion teammates, with six-time and reigning NTT 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 Indy car 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 that he will compete at any/all of them.

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

shares
comments
Farewell to Robin Miller – the best of all

Previous article

Farewell to Robin Miller – the best of all

Next article

Jimmie Johnson aims to race IndyCars “for as long as Chip will have me”

Jimmie Johnson aims to race IndyCars “for as long as Chip will have me”
Load comments
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

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

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
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021