the brand newNow you can hearken to Fox Information articles!
From Italia To Iowa to the simulator and at last Finger Lakes, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson was nowhere to be discovered. This weekend he heads to Watkins Glen for one of many final two video games scheduled to seem within the IMSA sports activities automotive.
He’ll then flip his consideration to planning the schedule for 2023, which Johnson hopes will embrace a spot within the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet plan to move a inventory automotive to Le Mans this June in a particular Storage 56 class designed to showcase NASCAR’s new Subsequent Gen mannequin innovation. The celebrated endurance race is scheduled for June 10-11, or two weeks after the Indianapolis 500.
Johnson desires to be a part of the lineup, however his participation, he mentioned, is dependent upon the 2023 IndyCar schedule — a sign that the seven-time NASCAR champ continues to be planning a 3rd season of open wheel racing.
Johnson this week pushed “behind the scenes” IndyCar boss Jay Fry to make sure the sequence was shut down throughout Le Mans.
“I wish to go to Le Mans,” Johnson mentioned. “However I believe lots is dependent upon the timeline that can be launched to grasp if I can.” “I do know there’s curiosity. I positively have lots of curiosity in doing that. We’re simply ready for the primary domino to fall.”
Johnson, who has pushed for Rick Hendrik for almost twenty years, believes he’s on the Le Mans nominee.
“I really feel there’s actually lots of curiosity on either side,” he added. “We could not speak about something extra official as a result of the schedule was not out.”
With every thing in limbo, Johnson turned to the canine days of his present racing schedule. IndyCar raced 5 weeks in a row earlier than a two-week break, which allowed Johnson to take his spouse and two daughters to Italy for a fast trip.
However the 46-year-old needed to return for a check on Monday at Iowa Speedway, a uncommon elliptical by no means seen earlier than by Johnson. His eyes have been cloudy and his espresso blazing throughout a briefing this week explaining how his subsequent cease was the simulator to organize for the Six Hours of Glen this weekend, the third of the 4 IMSA endurance races which have been included on Johnson’s agenda in an alliance between Hendrik, Motion Specific Racing and sponsor ally.
Johnson missed twelve hours of Sebring in March as a result of it bumped into an IndyCar cease at Texas Motor Speedway, his first look on an open wheel on an oval, so his return to the #48 Cadillac this weekend is a reunion with teammates Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi.
He had a short stint at Watkins Glenn bench a yr in the past and wasn’t positive how a lot of Chad Knaus, his predecessor. NASCAR Staff Chief And head of IMSA’s forty eighth program, he’ll use it Sunday.
“A six-hour race with three drivers, there’s not lots of driving time,” Johnson mentioned. “I believe the time I spend within the automotive finally is dependent upon my tempo.”
Johnson does not know what his 2023 schedule will appear like, however he is hoping it can embrace one other full IndyCar season and, on the very least, IMSA endurance races.
His return to IndyCar is essentially depending on funding. Johnson discovered a Carvana on his personal to help his transition from NASCAR Champion to IndyCar rookie, and solely ran highway and avenue programs final yr. He added the ovals this season, and made his Indy 500 debut final month.
Though he was thought-about a menace to win his first 500, he crashed late and completed twenty eighth. He continued to wrestle on the highway and avenue programs, which led to Johnson debunking that he would solely run the elliptical subsequent yr.
“I am unsure the place that got here from,” Johnson mentioned. “I have never had any discussions or thought of my operations.” “What I’ve been doing has been very fascinating and fascinating. Maintain bettering. I positively hope to do one thing related once more subsequent yr.”
Something he does in 2023 will find yourself with sponsorship, scheduling, and deliberate 2023 rule adjustments for sports activities automotive racing. The DPi class prototype can be changed by a brand new LMDH class that may make IMSA’s Class 1 eligible to race at Le Mans.
However with change comes the priority that there will not be sufficient uncooked constructions and elements for groups with partial schedule.
“We’re nonetheless on this Stage with IndyCarOr a sports activities automotive or another concepts I ought to go racing. “Every part proper now could be that individuals are simply beginning to speak about choices,” Johnson mentioned. “It is often the tip of summer season, the start of fall when the paper begins to maneuver and other people wish to ink issues and get issues executed. We’re simply early within the cycle, and I am positively attempting to maintain my choices open.”