Wednesday, 16 October 2019

NASCAR: Possible landing spots for Jimmie Johnson if he goes to IndyCar – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR: Possible landing spots for Jimmie Johnson if he goes to IndyCar – Beyond the Flag
06 Oct

Jimmie Johnson is still focused on NASCAR, but he made clear that he wants to compete in IndyCar one day. If he does, for which team or teams might he drive?

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson hasn’t won a Cup Series race in almost two and a half years. While there has been speculation that he may be looking to retire in the near future given his recent decline, he has made clear that he remains focused on getting his #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet back to victory lane.

The 44-year-old El Cajon, California native is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2020 season, and even the 2020 season, which would be his 19th season as a full-time driver, may not be his last.

But whenever he does eventually retire from the Cup Series, he has made clear that he wants to compete in IndyCar.

He described his ride swap with two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso as an “eye-opening experience” after driving Alonso’s McLaren at Bahrain International Circuit last November, and he stated that he is undoubtedly interested in IndyCar.

If Johnson does end up competing in America’s premier open-wheel racing series, where might he end up?

There are two options that come to mind, both Chevrolet teams; he has only ever driven a Chevrolet in his 738 NASCAR starts over the course of 22 seasons, including 644 Cup Series starts over the course of 19 seasons, 93 Xfinity Series starts over the course of 11 seasons and one Truck Series start.

Number one is Ed Carpenter Racing. Johnson has stated that he doesn’t believe he will compete in the Indianapolis 500 and that his interest lies in the road course races.

Ed Carpenter Racing currently run two full-time Chevrolet-powered cars. One is driven by a full-time driver, and the other is fielded for team owner Ed Carpenter in the oval races and another driver in the road and street course races.

Since Ed Carpenter Racing began operating in this fashion in the 2014 season, they have not had the same driver driving the road and street course car for two consecutive full seasons. Right now their plans aren’t solidified for the 2020 season, so they are certainly not solidified beyond that.

Could Johnson be in the mix after he retires from NASCAR?

The other option stems from a recent IndyCar team development over the summer coupled with the fact that Johnson did the aforementioned ride swap with Alonso.

McLaren formed a partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to form Arrow McLaren Racing SP, and after a lengthy stint with Honda engines, Arrow McLaren Racing SP switched to Chevrolet engines.

The team are slated to run two cars on a full-time basis. But they made clear to Alonso, who spent five seasons driving for the team in Formula 1, that there is an additional car available for him should he ever want to compete in the Indy 500, and even in any additional races.

Could Johnson’s connections to the team through his ride swap with Alonso put him in a similar situation down the road?

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

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If Jimmie Johnson does compete in IndyCar, where will he end up? Are Ed Carpenter Racing and Arrow McLaren Racing SP his top two options?



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