Jimmie Johnson’s firesuit isn’t the only thing that’s different about the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion these days. Not only is Johnson out of the Chevrolet camp for the first time in more than 20 years, but he’s racing a completely different machine. Johnson is only three starts into his new life as a NTT IndyCar Series driver, competing with Chip Ganassi Racing. But thus far, he’s absorbing as much information as he can, and he’s enjoying each and every second of it.
BY JOSEPH WOLKIN, @JoeWolkin
“It’s a very exciting series to be part of. The cars themselves are out-of-control fast and physical, which is a lot of fun for me. It’s a much more relaxed pace, and that’s something I was looking for. The Nascar schedule is quite long. After 20-plus years in that series, some change is nice. I’m enjoying it all.”
“It’s been really interesting because you think you know your competitors when you’re racing against them. Then, when you have a chance to work under that same roof, your perspective changes. I’ve always had so much respect for Chip Ganassi Racing and for Chip. But to be under the same roof and see how passionate he is about his race teams, plus the support he gives us all, it’s been a great experience. I’m surrounded by some of the smartest, most experienced people in IndyCar racing on my team. They’re all genuinely supporting me and they’re behind me in this endeavor.”
“I’m having a blast. There’s a steep learning curve in both series that I’m competing in. Both series are stacked with some of the best drivers in the world. Arguably, the IndyCar Series has the deepest field of drivers in any grid that’s out there. I’m honored to be a part of it. I continue to close the gaps in front of me. I look forward to getting a couple of years under my belt where I can feel the car where it’s second nature to me and I can be competitive. I want to be in the mix, racing for wins and having fun while racing at the front of the field.”
“They were nice enough to ask [at SRX]. There are many different vehicles and tracks I want to experience. But my plate is full right now, learning IndyCar and IMSA DPi sports cars. The 17-race schedule is enough for me. The amount of sim work and technology that comes with both series is really a full work week. I don’t have any bandwidth to add anything right now. But we’ll see in the coming years what will develop that I can go out there and enjoy.”