Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has stated his interest in taking part in select races of the IndyCar Series in the future. Johnson said that he was not really interested in the “high-speed” ovals such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but that he would be interested in taking part in a number of road course races once his NASCAR career has finished.
The comments came on Monday following Johnson’s car-swap with Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain International Circuit. Johnson drove the 2013 McLaren F1 car, with Alonso taking to the wheel of Johnson’s #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS.
It was the first time that either driver had sampled the other’s craft, with Johnson reportedly being impressively close to Alonso’s benchmark times in the Formula 1 car despite the fact that he has never driven a single-seater racing career.
After the event in Bahrain, Johnson was asked by reporters about the possibility of seeing Johnson take part in single-seater racing in the future. In particular, he was asked about IndyCar racing.
“Without a doubt,” Johnson told reporters when asked about racing in IndyCar, “2020 is my last year under contract with Hendrick [Motorsports], and I’ve been approached many times about [racing in] the Indy 500.
“I’m not overly excited about those fast ovals, but I think with my status and relationships I could put together some road course races in INDYCAR.
“I’ve done sports car racing in the past, I’ve finished second in the Rolex 24 a couple of times in the Prototype division, I’d love to get back to doing that. Anything’s open.
“I’m far from done, I want to keep driving and, hopefully, I can find some good opportunities.”
Johnson went on to intimate his respect for drivers such as Fernando Alonso and others throughout history who have proven that they can be fast in any car. He also went on to add that he would like to see more NASCAR drivers in the modern era to make the jump from Stock Cars to single-seaters, with the recent trend being to go the other way; like Juan-Pablo Montoya and others have done.
“I feel like drivers at a young age have to decide if they’re going to drive sedans or open-wheel cars,” Johnson said, “I don’t know if that’s right if it’s right for that judgment to take place.
“I look back at some of my heroes – and I know some of them are yours – but when you look at Parnelli Jones, Mario [Andretti], Dan Gurney, Emmo [Fittipaldi], they raced anything. And I don’t know where that got lost. In the ’80s or ’90s, it was, ‘You’re just open-wheel and you’re just sedan.’
“I don’t know why that’s there. I feel like an open-minded driver – and one that’s ready to work – could cross and go either direction.
“We’ve seen quite a few open-wheel guys try NASCAR and they’ve been competitive,” Johnson added, “I don’t think there have been as many victories as some would have thought, but they’ve been competitive. No one has gone the other way. So I would love to see somebody go the other way.”
The 2019 IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10.