NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson looks to IndyCar, IMSA and Le Mans for the 2023 schedule

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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 look within the IMSA sports activities automobile.

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 automobile to Le Mans this June in a particular Storage 56 class designed to showcase NASCAR’s new Subsequent Gen mannequin innovation. The distinguished 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, will depend on the 2023 IndyCar schedule — a sign that the seven-time NASCAR champ remains 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 collection was shut down throughout Le Mans.

“I need to go to Le Mans,” Johnson mentioned. “However I feel lots will depend on the timeline that will likely be launched to know if I can.” “I do know there’s curiosity. I undoubtedly have loads of curiosity in doing that. We’re simply ready for the primary domino to fall.”

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Johnson, who has pushed for Rick Hendrik for practically 20 years, believes he’s on the Le Mans nominee.

“I really feel there may be actually loads of curiosity on each side,” he added. “We could not discuss something extra official as a result of the schedule was not out.”

With all the pieces 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 arrange 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.

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He had a short stint at Watkins Glenn bench a yr in the past and wasn’t certain 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 loads of driving time,” Johnson mentioned. “I feel the time I spend within the automobile finally will depend on my tempo.”

Johnson does not know what his 2023 schedule will seem like, however he is hoping it’ll embrace one other full IndyCar season and, on the very least, IMSA endurance races.

His return to IndyCar is basically depending on funding. Johnson discovered a Carvana on his personal to assist his transition from NASCAR Champion to IndyCar rookie, and solely ran highway and road programs final yr. He added the ovals this season, and made his Indy 500 debut final month.

Jimmy Johnson is looking forward to racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023.

Jimmy Johnson is trying ahead to racing on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023.

Though he was thought-about a menace to win his first 500, he crashed late and completed twenty eighth. He continued to battle on the highway and road 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 not had any discussions or thought of my operations.” “What I’ve been doing has been very attention-grabbing and attention-grabbing. Maintain bettering. I undoubtedly hope to do one thing comparable once more subsequent yr.”

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Something he does in 2023 will find yourself with sponsorship, scheduling, and deliberate 2023 rule modifications for sports activities automobile racing. The DPi class prototype will likely 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 buildings and components for groups with partial schedule.

“We’re nonetheless on this Stage with IndyCarOr a sports activities automobile or some other concepts I ought to go racing. “Every thing proper now’s that individuals are simply beginning to discuss choices,” Johnson mentioned. “It is normally the tip of summer time, the start of fall when the paper begins to maneuver and other people want to ink issues and get issues achieved. We’re simply early within the cycle, and I am undoubtedly making an attempt to maintain my choices open.”