From Italy to Iowa to the simulator and finally to Finger Lakes, NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson has no rest. He’s going to Watkins Glenn this weekend for one of these last two scheduled shows in the IMSA sports car.
He will then focus on planning his 2023 schedule, which Johnson hopes will have a place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet are planning to take the stock car to Le Mans next June in a special garage 56 class designed to showcase the invention of NASCAR’s new Next model. The prestigious endurance race is scheduled for June 10-11 or two weeks after the Indianapolis 500.
Johnson wants to be part of the lineup, but his partnership will depend on the 2023 Indicar schedule – a seven-time NASCAR champion still planning a third season of open-wheel racing.
Johnson tried to push IndyCar president Jay Fry to make sure he was off the series during “behind the scenes” Le Mans this week.
“I want to go to Le Mans. But I think there’s a lot of seams in the release schedule to understand if I can,” Johnson said. “I know there’s interest. I’m very eager to do this. We’re looking forward to that first domino fall.”
Cadillac’s ‘Monster’ hypercar looking to win Le Mans and Daytona 24 hour races
Johnson, who has been driving for Rick Hendrick for nearly two decades, believes he is on the Le Mans list of candidates.
“I think the interest on both sides is really high,” he added. “We could not say anything more formal as the schedule was over.”
With everything in doubt, Johnson turned to Dog Days on his current racing schedule. IndyCar competed for five weeks in a row before the two-week break, which allowed Johnson to take his wife and two daughters to Italy for a quick vacation.
But the 46-year-old said he had to return for testing Monday on the Iowa Speedway, a rare oval Johnson had never competed in before. During this week’s media session he sipped his coffee and chuckled, explaining how he had prepared the simulator for this weekend’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Johnson missed Twelve Hours of Sebring in March due to a disagreement with the IndyCar stop at the Texas Motor Speedway, making his open-wheel debut at the Oval, so he made the No. 1 spot this weekend. 48 returned to Cadillac, reuniting with his colleagues Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. .
Pre-race notes for Lee Mans for 24 hours
He spent a short time in his seat in Watkins Glenn a year ago and his former NASCAR crew chief and no. Chad Knos, 48’s IMSA program head, is not sure how much he will use him on Sunday.
“Six-hour race with three drivers, no more drive time, no duration,” Johnson said. “I think the time I spend in the car will ultimately depend on my speed.”
Johnson does not know what his 2023 schedule will be but it will include another full IndyCar season and at least IMSA endurance races.
His return to IndyCar will largely depend on funding. Johnson invented his own caravan to switch from NASCAR champion to IndyCar rookie and only drove the road and street courses last year. He added the Ovals this season and made his Indie 500 debut last month.
Although his first 500 win was considered a threat, he was knocked out late and finished 28th. He continued to struggle on the road and street courses, leading to the Johnson-fired report that he will only be running the Oval next year.
“I’m not sure where it came from. It’s not in any of the discussions I’ve had or in the thought processes I’ve made,” Johnson said. “What I’m doing is so much fun and enjoyable. Continue to get better. I hope to do the same next year.”
The NASCAR Cup Series car Lee Mans is entering the 24 hour race in 2023
If he does anything in 2023 it will come down to changes to the 2023 rules planned for sponsorship, scheduling and sports car racing. The prototype DPi class will be replaced with the new LMDh class, which will enable IMSA’s top category to race in Le Mans.
But with the change semi-scheduled teams will not have enough starting frame and components.
“We’re still at this stage with an Indicar, a sports car or I have any other idea to go racing. Right now people are all talking about options,” Johnson said. “It’s usually the end of summer, the beginning of autumn the papers start moving and people are looking to finish them with ink. We’re just at the beginning of the cycle and I’m definitely trying to keep my options open.”