Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson said that he had a number of good options to race in the NTT IndyCar Series this season before deciding that Ganassi was the best place for him.
Speaking to Paddock Eye on Tuesday during a Zoom conference call, the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion said:
Yeah, for me trying to select a team to race with in 2021, it was really hard to — I had some good options, but at the same time it was really hard to get to know anyone with the COVID restrictions, and all along I knew that my relationship with Chip, Doug Duchardt, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Mike Hull, all people I’ve known for years, and Doug Duchardt I’ve worked very closely with when he was at Hendrick Motorsports. I knew in my gut right away that that would be home for me, be the best place.
Fortunately we were able to obviously put everything together, and then to really dive in with Dario and — he’s just so good at communicating the world that is so hectic inside the race car and so good at kind of seeing and spotting things and also looking through the data and seeing and spotting things that might be troublesome for me, and his approach, his sincere desire to see me succeed and our teammates succeed, all that kind of rolls up into just an amazing experience.
As I started the interview, this has overdelivered, the experience has, on so many levels, and being able to work with Dario so closely and everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing so closely, it’s a special place with a really, really neat environment, and I’m really happy and proud to be a part of it.
Speaking to Paddock Eye about testing an IndyCar on an oval next month at Homestead Miami Speedway, Johnson said:
Yeah, I already sent him a text asking him how it went. I haven’t heard back yet; I guess he’s still busy. But I’m trying to find my comfort with the ovals. I think he’s in a similar place.
We’ve both been chatting over the course of the year about ovals and really about the experience altogether. As I get more and more comfortable with ovals, hopefully the test when it happens late August will go well, and I’ll continue to work closer to the INDYCAR 500 or more ovals in general.
Johnson also spoke to Paddock Eye about the cross-over between IndyCar and NASCAR on ovals saying:
You know, I feel like there’s some carryover, and if there is — of all the tracks we run on, street, road and oval, there should be some crossover on oval. I found there to be zero crossover on road courses, so that’s interesting.
But yeah, I spent some time talking with Juan Pablo, and he felt like when he was able to return to INDYCAR after his NASCAR experience that there was a lot of knowledge that he could bring over and driving technique, and he felt like he had a leg up on the traditional INDYCAR drivers at that point.
That’s the carrot that’s hanging out in front of me. I’m running around the back of the pack now on street and road courses, and thinking, man, if I was on an oval where would I be. That’s the balance I’m fighting with right now, the risk versus reward during an oval race.
Johnson says he is excited about the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville next weekend and spoke to Paddock Eye about the possibility of the race here being under lights at night next season.
A street night race would be pretty amazing. Yeah, I didn’t really think that would be possible, and I’m running through the location and lights. Yeah, I guess it would be possible. I’d hate to pay the light bill, but that would be pretty awesome.
Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Yeah, I would be in favor of that. That would be pretty awesome