Jimmie Johnson isn’t sure what he’ll be driving next year, but the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has ruled out continuing in NTT IndyCar Series as a full-time driver after a busy two-year run as a member of the Chip Ganassi Racing open-wheel team.
Johnson’s open to doing more races with Ganassi, most likely on a few ovals, but the Californian who just turned 47 has decided it’s time to throttle back and slowly wind down a career that began as a child in offroad racing.
“I’ve made the decision that I will not compete full-time in 2023,” Johnson said. “This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one. I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing.”
Johnson will have continued support from sponsor Carvana for whatever he ends up driving next season, and while the Ganassi team is expected to keep its fourth entry in motion with or without Johnson, the team will make a car available to the Californian if he elects to do the Indy 500 or other select rounds.
“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” Ganassi said. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”
In his transition from NASCAR to IndyCar, Johnson joined CGR for road and street courses in 2021 where he produced a pair of 17th-place finishes to close his rookie season. Facing a massive learning curve in a form of racing where he held zero experience, Johnson struggled more often than not as he figured out how to drive a car with high-downforce and low-weight that is nothing like the heavy and plodding stock cars he mastered over three decades.
A return this year, with the ovals added in, saw Johnson participate in the full 17-race calendar with CGR, and despite making considerable gains in confidence and lap time with his road racing, it was the ovals where the NASCAR legend shined. He improved his best results to a pair of 16ths on the Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca road courses but struggled with nine finishes of 20th or lower.
On the way to placing 21st in IndyCar’s Drivers’ championship, Johnson produced a sixth on the 1.5-mile Texas oval and a top IndyCar result of fifth on the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway oval.
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