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

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) – From Italy to Iowa to the simulator and at last the Finger Lakes, there was no reduction for Jimmie Johnson. This weekend he heads to Watkins Glen for one of many final two video games scheduled to seem within the IMSA sports activities automobile.

Then he’ll flip his consideration to planning the schedule for 2023, which Johnson hopes will embody a spot within the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet are planning to maneuver a inventory automobile to Le Mans subsequent June in a 56-class non-public storage. Designed to showcase NASCAR’s new subsequent era 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, depends upon the 2023 IndyCar schedule — a sign that the seven-time NASCAR champ continues 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 sequence was discontinued throughout Le Mans.

“I wish to go to Le Mans,” Johnson mentioned, however I believe rather a lot depends upon what schedule will probably be launched to know if I can. “I do know there’s a profit. I actually have a number of curiosity in doing that. We’re simply ready for the primary domino to fall.”

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

“I really feel the curiosity is absolutely large on either side,” he added. “We could not discuss something extra official as a result of the schedule was not out.”

With the whole lot 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 media briefing this week explaining how his subsequent cease was the simulator to organize for the Six Hours of Glen this weekend, the third of the 4 IMSA endurance races which were 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.

He had a short stint at Watkins Glen a 12 months in the past and wasn’t certain how a lot Chad Knaus, the previous NASCAR crew chief and IMSA’s forty eighth program chief, would use on Sunday.

“A six-hour race with three drivers, there’s not a number of driving time,” Johnson mentioned. “I believe the time I spend within the automobile in the end depends upon my tempo.”

Johnson would not know what his 2023 schedule will appear like, however he is hoping it would embody 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 he solely ran street and avenue programs final 12 months. He added the ovals this season, and made his Indy 500 debut final month.

Though it was thought-about a risk to win the primary 500, He crashed late and completed twenty eighth. He continued to wrestle within the street and avenue programs, which led to Johnson deciding to pretend it that he’d solely run the elliptical subsequent 12 months.

“I am unsure the place that got here from. I did not have any discussions or take into consideration my operations,” Johnson mentioned. “What I used to be doing was very attention-grabbing and attention-grabbing. Preserve getting higher. I undoubtedly hope to do one thing related once more subsequent 12 months.”

Something he does in 2023 will find yourself with sponsorship, scheduling, and deliberate 2023 rule adjustments for sports activities automobile racing. The DPi class prototype will probably be changed by a brand new LMDh class that can make IMSA’s Class 1 eligible to race at Le Mans.

However with change comes the priority that there are usually not sufficient constructions and uncooked components for part-table groups.

“We’re nonetheless at this level with IndyCar or the sports activities automobile or every other concepts I’ve to go to the race. All proper now’s that individuals are simply beginning to discuss choices,” Johnson mentioned. “It’s often the tip of summer season, the start of fall when it begins Paper is on the transfer and folks want to ink and get issues completed. We’re simply early within the cycle, and I am undoubtedly making an attempt to maintain my choices open.”

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