Jimmie Johnson to partner with Chip Ganassi Racing for two IndyCar seasons
Jimmie Johnson made his name an immortal one in the world of American auto racing over the last two decades. Next year he’ll continue to add to his legacy when he becomes an IndyCar Series driver for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Johnson, 44, will retire from full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing when the checkered flag waves at Phoenix Raceway in November. But for the next to years, he’ll compete in IndyCar’s road and street courses with CGR.
The seven-time NASCAR champion has tested several open-wheel vehicles over the last two years. At the end of 2018, he and Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso swapped cars at the Bahrain International Circuit in a private session. Earlier this year, he was a guest at McLaren for IndyCar’s preseason test at Circuit of The Americas.
He also tested a CGR car on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this summer. It looks like he had already made his decision to join the IndyCar paddock at the time of the filming of this video:
Johnson and CGR will work together to find sponsorship for the next two seasons. He has previously said he isn’t interested in running the Indianapolis 500 at his age because of the inherent dangers of the event. However, IndyCar introduced the Aeroscreen to protect drivers while they are in the cockpit, so it might be plausible that he attempts the race in 2022 when he has a year of experience under his belt.
“When I tested Chip’s Indy car earlier in the year, it only lit the fire more. I found that I wanted to do it more than ever before. Scott [Dixon] was just incredible to work with, and in a short time, I found out very quickly why Chip and his teams have won 12 INDYCAR Championships,” Johnson said. “As part of a natural progression, I wanted to publicly show the alignment with Chip Ganassi Racing to kick the sponsorship program into high gear. The goal is to run the full road and street program, and today is a very important first step in accomplishing that goal.”
Said Ganassi: “It is always difficult to find great drivers but for them to be great guys too makes it even that much more challenging. To pair Jimmie with the likes of Scott Dixon is quite an opportunity. They are truly in rarified air, and I think everyone knows by now that ‘I like winners.’ The goal right now is for us to run Jimmie in an Indy car for at least the next couple of seasons, and we want to show people we’re serious about the program. We felt it was important to get the partnership done and start putting the financial building blocks in place to make this a reality. Jimmie’s record speaks for itself, and we feel a championship-level driver of his caliber can only make our team better.”
Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images