Third time’s the charm for seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who was finally able to complete his IndyCar test with Chip Ganassi Racing on Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
Johnson turned 125 laps in the #10 NTT Data Honda, the same car that Felix Rosenqvist drove in the GMR Grand Prix on 04 July. Despite a very hot track temperature resulting in low grip, as well as a limited amount of tyres, Johnson excelled in the test.
On hand to aid him were Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, as well as five-time IndyCar champion, current points leader, and longtime friend of Johnson, Scott Dixon.
“He did a fantastic job,” Dixon said of Johnson to Indycar.com.
“The hardest part is knowing baselines (because) when you don’t have a teammate with you during the day, you don’t know really where you stand.
“But the biggest thing for me was when we started going through the data and the video, how he was able to replicate ‘Jimmie do this or do that’ is really difficult to do and comprehend, especially when it’s not your comfort zone.
“Honestly, he did a terrific job … he did a mega job.”
Johnson also opened up about the differences in driving an Indycar compared to a NASCAR stock car.
“All the aggression you try to remove driving a Cup car apply to driving an Indy car,” he said.
“You really do get rewarded for aggression and commitment. Then finding that limit and trying to figure out how to operate on that edge is what I spent most of the day trying to figure out.
“The amount of time you have to respond to the car getting out of control is so much smaller in one of these (cars). I ended up spinning out twice trying to find the edge. But as the day went on, I was really able to identify the early cues from the car and (understand) what was taking place.”
After the event, Johnson said that he would like to run IndyCar now more than ever.
“It only lit the fire more. I want to do this more than ever before,” Johnson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“It was something new, something different. NASCAR has been so good to me. and I am so proud of the success I’ve had. But to try something new, man, this was really cool.”
He even wrote on his Instagram account, “Today was incredible, sign me up for more!”
There have been no specific talks about getting Johnson into an IndyCar just yet, but Mike Hull said that Ganassi would love to have him on board. However, Hull also believes that other teams would be interested in his services.
Arrow McLaren SP, the team Johnson was originally supposed to test with and had a seat fitting with in March, still remains interested in him. Despite this test with Ganassi, Johnson still hopes to test with McLaren this year.
Johnson will be retiring from NASCAR competition at the end of this year, and hopes to turn to street circuit/road course racing in 2021. He also has not ruled out the Indianapolis 500 for as early as 2022.