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IndyCar Iowa II

Jimmie Johnson hails “special day” after IndyCar career-best finish

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson was elated after scoring a fifth place in the second Iowa race, after winning a tight duel with championship-leading teammate Marcus Ericsson.

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

As in yesterday’s race, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda looked strong on race pace, climbing from mediocre qualifying positions to swiftly enter the top eight.

Johnson fought hard with both six-time champion teammate Scott Dixon and Ericsson, splitting the pair of them at the checkered flag after some very close battles, especially as he and Ericsson fought their way past backmarkers.

Unlike yesterday’s 250-lap race in which he fell outside the top 10, a short final stint in this 300-lapper meant that no drivers were desperately clinging on to grip in the closing laps and Johnson was able to display his chops all the way to the checker.

"This is a really special day for me and for everyone who's been on the journey with me in the IndyCar Series,” said Johnson, for whom this was only the fourth oval race, having been road/street courses-only in 2021. “So proud to have the American Legion on the car today.

“A couple of years ago when we had this idea, we knew we could run well. It took me getting on the ovals to get my best finishes. Great support from Chip Ganassi Racing and my teammates, today was just a fun race out there."

Regarding his battle with Ericsson, Johnson told NBC: "I raced my teammates with the most respect. Every race I've been in I've just given way and that was the first time I really fought for a position, because I felt like I shoulda been up there passing the #9 car [of Dixon]. I made a mistake and got up into the marbles, when I really felt a podium was within reach. I had it in me today, just an awesome day."

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Although some expected Johnson to be moved aside in order that Ericsson could maximize his points as championship leader, the Indy 500 winner himself had no issues with his teammate. "We had a great day, starting 15th, working up to fourth at one point,” he told NBC. “We lost the balance in the last stint and a half, the car went a bit oversteery. I couldn't really keep up the pace.

“And then I had a great battle with Jimmie. You can tell he's experienced on the ovals: he did a really good job placing his car. He was going where I wasn't, and I'm still learning on the ovals – especially the short ones, but it was fun. I tried really hard to keep him behind, but he drove really well."

Reflecting on his points lead that has been reduced to eight points over today’s runner-up Will Power, Ericsson reflected: "I'm very happy, I would’ve taken being the leader coming out of this weekend, because this is our weakest track on the calendar. So we were pretty worried, with it being a double-header. We put on our stone faces and said we were all good, but we were pretty worried.

“I'm really happy we're still ahead, and now we're going to track where we know we are strong [Indianapolis road course] so I'm really excited about the rest of the year."

 

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