until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Johnson to tackle first full-time IndyCar campaign in 2022

by Jack Benyon
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jimmie Johnson will contest the Indianapolis 500 and the whole IndyCar schedule after confirming a deal to expand his calendar from only the road and street courses.

Seven-time NASCAR champion Johnson made the switch to IndyCar in 2021 at the age of 45, having no significant single-seater experience.

He improved steadily through the year after a tumultuous start that delivered myriad in-race spins, but topped off the year with his best result of 17th in the penultimate race and repeated that in the final race of the year at Long Beach.

Johnson had grown up watching the Long Beach Grand Prix as his local race but also the Indianapolis 500 on television and confirmed his entry via an appearance on the flagship Today Show.

Johnson had initially stuck to road courses in his maiden IndyCar year but softened his stance on ovals in the second half of the season as it became clear he was considering a 500 attempt.

Jimmie Johnson Referenceimagewithoutwatermark M49406

Although he said he was initially focused on the 500 and was unsure of competing on the other ovals, he’ll now include those and race at Texas, Gateway and Iowa alongside the 500.

“I’m really excited about this next chapter of my career and competing in the #48 with Carvana for the 2022 season,” Johnson said.

“The safety of these cars has come so far, and after I tested the ovals at Texas and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I realised this was a challenge I wanted to undertake.

“Last season was so incredible for me and I made a lot of progress, so I know I can be competitive on tracks that I have experience on. I can’t wait to be part of the Indianapolis 500, it’s a childhood dream come true.”

Ganassi’s effort – which was only two cars back in 2019 – could expand to five cars for the 500 with Tony Kanaan also racing for the team.
Kanaan signed a two-year deal beginning in 2020 to race the oval rounds in the #48 car with Johnson in for road and street circuits, but now it’s unclear which races Kanaan will contest. He is expected to race at the Indy 500.

Johnson tested the Ganassi car and passed his rookie orientation at Indianapolis in October this year, alongside ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean who will also make his 500 debut next year.

Since the 2021 Indy 500 lacked a big name star making their debut at the event and in the absence of Fernando Alonso who returned to F1 with Alpine. Johnson and Grosjean should provide a much-needed boost to the 500 in 2022.

“We are very happy about Jimmie running the whole 2022 season and that Carvana will be on nearly all of those races,” team owner Chip Ganassi said.

“I am looking forward to seeing Jimmie get back on the track after having a year under his belt. With all the experience he has on ovals from his NASCAR career and adding it to his 2021 experience in an IndyCar, we think the IndyCar ovals will play right into his strength.”

Johnson is considered key to helping to unite the NASCAR and IndyCar fanbases which some believe have been divided, but Johnson offers cross-promotion opportunities.

Grosjean – alongside Ferrari junior Callum Ilott and Alpine junior Christian Lundgaard – gives the 500 some European interest on top of what is already a huge motorsport event.

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