2022 Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 38: Jimmie’s magic moment?


Note : This week, the Roundtable welcomes its newest member, Joey Barnes, who has joined INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Head of Editorial and Digital Content. Keen-eyed, keen-memory fans will remember Joey’s excellent contributions to INDYCAR.com as a freelance writer from 2016-19.

The question of the day : What is the moment you remember most from Jimmie Johnson’s two seasons in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES?

Curt Cavin: I go back to last October when Jimmie and Romain Grosjean took their rookie tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Until then, Jimmie had only raced Indy cars on road courses and street courses, and he hadn’t excelled at either – he had never qualified in the top 20 or finished. a top-15 race. But that day at IMS, he was back in his comfort zone, and he liked it a lot because he could relate his experience and give his team appropriate feedback. It’s important to note that Jimmie very rarely, if ever, showed his frustration at not reaching the level he did in NASCAR, but on that October day, he looked and felt like the big one. all the time, and he couldn’t have been happier. He also appreciated the opportunity to drive an Indy car on hallowed ground, which I appreciated.

Joey Barnes: There’s plenty to choose from, including that strong qualifying performance in May that saw him enter the top 12 for the 106th race of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. However, I have to settle for his late charge in the XPEL 375 earlier this season at Texas Motor Speedway, where he climbed to fifth before settling for sixth for his first top-10 result of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, which also served as the official debut on an oval. The final impression I left was when I was on pit road and saw Johnson and Scott Dixon, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate with whom he competed on the 1.5 mile oval, share a moment during post-race activities. There was a look of relief — a reward, if you will — on Johnson’s face after he managed to show something positive in NASCAR’s difficult, and at times humiliating, transition. Plus, it’s crazy to think we’ve seen a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion go wheel-to-wheel with a six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion in the person of Dixon. This is certainly a historic moment, one that we may never see again.

Paul Kelly: It may seem strange, but the moment that will forever be etched in my memory about Jimmie Johnson’s career in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021 and 2022 came when he was not even in his driver’s suit or strapped in. to the #48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. It was in May 2021 that Johnson did not participate in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, but worked as an analyst for the NBC television team for « The Greatest Spectacle in Racing ». Johnson immediately fell in love with May – he « got Indy » from the first laps of testing. And you could see from his appearances on TV that he was consumed by the desire to not be in a car and to race with 32 other drivers at 230 mph on the most famous circuit in the world. I knew then that he had made the mental transition from NASCAR and was ready to compete in the full NTT INDYCAR SERIES program in 2022, including his Indy 500 debut.


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