Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has signed a two-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to contest the road and street courses in the 2021 and 2022 IndyCar Series seasons.
The deal is still pending sponsorship backing for Johnson, who currently races in the Cup Series with funding from Utah-based bank Ally. The 45-year-old tested a Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Indy car on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this year to get acquainted with the machinery before committing to the two-season campaign.
“Ganassi was highly motivated to give me a chance to drive a car to see what I thought, and the experience was all that I hoped for and more,” Johnson told The Associated Press this week. “I left a good impression with them where there’s definitely interest on their side, and now it’s time to formalize things and get the ball rolling.”
The one downside for Jimmie Johnson is that he won’t be able to stay with Chevrolet. The fan-favorite driver was in talks with several different teams for a potential IndyCar ride and had even scheduled a test with Chevrolet outfit Arrow McLaren SP, but that test was canceled due to the pandemic. Now that Johnson’s linked with Chip Ganassi Racing, he’ll be behind the wheel of a Honda for the next two seasons.
“I did have to make that call to my friends at Chevrolet, and they completely get it,” Johnson said. “Chip runs a Chevy NASCAR program and has won a championship for them in IndyCar, and you know, it’s not ideal but they understand the opportunity, and hopefully there’s ways we can still race together.”
Jimmie Johnson is still open to running select NASCAR Cup Series races – pending financial support, of course. He says the Southern 500 at Darlington is an easy race to sell sponsorship slots for due to the throwback paint schemes, which usually generate a good amount of media interest in the week leading up to the race. Johnson’s also open to running certain NASCAR road course events in the future.
“There’s a lot of hurdles to clear, but I’m open,” Johnson said.