Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was finally able to complete his IndyCar test session today, logging a full day of laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Johnson has been eyeing up a chance to get behind the wheel of an IndyCar since the start of this year, but complications from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delayed the test until this week.
Johnson completed multiple sessions out on track throughout the morning and into the afternoon. After completing his first set of laps, he keyed his radio and remarked, “It certainly was my dream as a kid to be an IndyCar Driver, went a different direction which has served me well. This lights my fire.”
Back in 2018, Johnson participated in a ride-swap with McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso, with each driver taking each other’s car for a few laps of the Bahrain International Circuit.
He said at the time that the exhilaration of driving the open-wheel car “was the most epic experience I’ve ever had in motorsports, in my life.”
That relationship with McLaren, and their new involvement in IndyCar this season in the form of the Arrow McLaren SP team, led to Johnson attending the series’ pre-season test session in February and scheduling a test session for himself in April.
Those plans were set aside, however, when the racing world paused to figure out how it was going to deal with the new reality of the pandemic.
A second test was scheduled with McLaren for early July, but Johnson himself was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to once again set aside his plans.
After he recovered, Chip Ganassi Racing was able to offer him a day behind the wheel and even brought five-time IndyCar champion, and current points leader, Scott Dixon out to the track for some real-time input.
“What a day,” said Johnson after his long session behind the wheel. “A wrap on an awesome, awesome experience. Big thanks to Chip Ganassi Racing, Scott Dixon, Chip, everybody involved. That blew my mind. I had such an awesome experience today.
“Today more than exceeded my expectations. Sign me up for more!”
Johnson plans to retire from NASCAR at the end of this season and has been open about his interest in driving in some other forms of motorsports once his schedule becomes more available.
It is unknown if the 44-year-old would consider signing on to a full IndyCar season in the future, or indeed if he would be offered such a ride, but he took full advantage of his allotted time today and is keeping his options open.