Grateful Johnson has no regrets about career move to INDYCAR


It’s not a final farewell, but Jimmie Johnson will be much less present in the future in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Johnson, 47, announced his full-time farewell to the North American Open-Wheel Car Championship on Monday.

After an illustrious NASCAR career, marked by two Daytona 500 victories and a record seven Cup Series championships, Johnson made the jump to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021, with a part-time road and street driving campaign of Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing’s #48 Honda. The addition of ovals gave him full-time driver status this year, and the fireworks came early on, when he finished in sixth place – his first career top 10 – during the XPEL 375 in March at Texas Motor Speedway. He then qualified in 12th place and led two laps in the 106th race of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in May, then earned a career-best fifth-place finish in the Hy oval race. -Vee Salute to Farmers 300 in July at Iowa Speedway.

« There were a lot of lessons learned, but I think what I noticed I did the most was…we all have default mechanisms in our minds and how we operate and what we do, » said Johnson said. “Throughout my Cup career, I was able to handle very stressful situations, but I always came back to calm and approached the challenge that came my way with a realistic mindset. I have found myself in the Indy car many times and over the past couple of years with all these new experiences using that same flaw. I’m grateful to have that in me.

“Maybe I didn’t recognize it as much in the Cup Series because I was so busy with life and what was going on. Now, at another time in my life, looking at this experience differently than I did then, I am more aware of this flaw I have and it makes me smile and laugh at how I was able to stay in my own head.

“I said it before when I raced for the NASCAR championship, I always put on blinders and focused on my world, and I started doing that again here in INDYCAR. I think it served me well and it’s in my DNA and why I am who I am. »

Johnson also spoke about the impression he left on those who followed his journey and his 29 starts in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

« Most people would like to believe that’s the reality, and most people would like to challenge themselves and maybe start a second career or pivot in life and try something new and different, but it’s is hard to do. And I’ve discovered over the past two years how many fans, and indeed how many other runners, identify with what I’ve done and want to do the same thing in their lives.

« Hopefully through it all I was able to show that of course I’m competitive, of course I want to race and do well, but at the same time I was ready to put myself out there. ‘easy. I can sit here and say I had the most amazing two years, even though I wasn’t winning races and even though I was qualifying at the back of the pack on all these road and street courses, I was passing when even the best times of my life. You can pivot and be uncomfortable and still have an amazing experience doing it. »

As for 2023 and beyond, Johnson is open to several options, including the possibility of another partial season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES or even competing to complete « The Double » of racing the Indianapolis 500. and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

“I’m kind of running out of specific events that are bucket list races and honestly that’s kind of what led to my decision not to come back full time,” Johnson said. “I had this incredible opportunity with INDYCAR, but I’m always open to the circuits that are important to me, the races that are important to me and I do it with the people and the teams that are important to me.

« So if something develops with Chip and it’s a mix of road and street courses and a few ovals, I’m open to that. I am open to ‘Double’ or ‘500’ alone. You know, I really have a clean sheet of paper in front of me right now and I can’t wait to see what meaningful opportunities develop and make sense. »

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