In the his first season away from NASCAR after 20 years, Jimmie Johnson has been actively watching and commenting on the NASCAR races. However, he has been far busier preparing for his debut in the IndyCar Series, which keeps getting closer.
Johnson recently spoke to former NASCAR and IndyCar driver Danica Patrick about his mindset ahead of his debut in the series.
While many racers tend to move lower in the difficulty level, coming from IndyCar to NASCAR, Johnson left many wondering with his move from NASCAR to the more challenging machine in IndyCar.
Patrick herself came to NASCAR later and wondered why Jimmie made the opposite move at this stage of his career. The 45-year-old superstar has time and again expressed his life-long IndyCar dream.
While that certainly pushed him to try a totally new challenge, there was another experience that prompted Johnson to work more towards making the dream a reality. That was his 2018 NASCAR-F1 car swap with F1 great Fernando Alonso.
“After driving Fernando’s Formula One car a few years ago, we did this swap, (felt like) I’ve always wanted to do this. This experience only made me want to experience more. And I started the process,” he added.
Johnson drove the McLaren F1 car at Bahrain International Circuit in late 2018 and he was pumped after the ride, to say the least.
After starting the IndyCar process, teams soon began to show their interest in signing the great driver for their teams. The next step, Johnson said, was to secure sponsorship. He signed with Chip Ganassi Racing and signed Carvana as the primary sponsor.
“I was surprised to see there was interest among the teams. Then, from there, it was like, ‘Okay, if we can get some sponsorship put together, we can really pull this off. I was able to get Carvana in the mix and put them on the car. So here we are,” Johnson added.
Johnson then clarified that he is not trying his hand at IndyCar to achieve the same level of success as he did in NASCAR. For the former Hendrick Motorsports driver, it is the experience that matters more.
“I am not expecting the type of success I had in Cup. But I am really trying to tell myself, and of course, the competitive side will kick in and I’ll be sad plenty, next year or this year. But the experience to do this is really where my heart is,” the No. 48 car driver expressed.
Johnson wanted to be one of the few drivers to experience driving in both the NASCAR and IndyCar Series. He gets closer each passing day to make that a reality, and the NASCAR legend is working very hard towards his new debut.