Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson believes the ability to run on ovals would allow him to perform with an ‘uptick’ in performance over his results on road and street courses.
Johnson moved across to IndyCar in 2021 after spending a lengthy career in NASCAR which predominantly runs on ovals, winning seven Cup titles and 83 races across his 20-year stint in the series.
During his recent test at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson adapted quickly to familiar surroundings albeit in vastly different machinery.
Over the course of the day’s running, his best average lap speed of 214mph would have been good enough to earn the 45-year-old a place inside the top five in qualifying for the 2020 event.
“I think just looking at facts,” said Johnson. “I’m not sure we can pull a qualifying sheet from the year before and say I’d qualify fourth anywhere on a road or street course so far this year, so just that alone.
“But yeah, I was able to feel the car, speak the language, work through adjustments in the car. I knew what to talk about and knew where spring split worked, and I guess they call it — using the weight-jacker button, which was cross-weighter wedge is what we called it in NASCAR.
“Just the tools and the way you make a car go was so much more familiar, and I knew what I was feeling and I could be of help. Ovals would definitely be an uptick in performance for me, I believe.”
Johnson has another opportunity to test on an oval at Indianapolis at the tyre test in October which he feels is the next step in his IndyCar progression.
Should Johnson attend the test, he would be mandated to go through the rookie orientation program in order to be permitted to run at next season’s Indianapolis 500.
“I’m eager to find out when that date in October would be for the rookie orientation,” he added.
[It] would be the next logical step for me in the car, and conversations are happening certainly with my family.
“I feel like that orientation would be the next logical step on track, and then following that would be more team/sponsor related conversations, are we able to do it, how would we do it, what would that look like, and kind of use that second test session as a real moment to send me on my path towards potentially running the 500.”