Jimmie Johnson moving from NASCAR to IndyCar in 2021, will race for Chip Ganassi Racing
If you thought Jimmie Johnson was just going to hit the links after this, his final season racing in NASCAR, you thought wrong. Johnson has announced that, rather than working on his chip shot and sipping a wine cooler, he will be racing for Chip Ganassi in IndyCar starting next season.
I will be soaking up the next nine weeks of my full time @NASCAR career. I’m sad to see it coming to an end but I’m excited to announce a future partnership with @CGRTeams in @IndyCar. pic.twitter.com/Y4VdVN0UP1
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) September 9, 2020
Johnson and Chip Ganassi Racing announced a two-year deal that will have the seven-time NASCAR winner racing on oval tracks as well as road courses in the NTT IndyCar Series. Johnson did a test drive for CGR at the end of July at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and came away pleased with the results. “When I tested Chip’s Indy car earlier in the year, it only lit the fire more,” Johnson said in a team release. “I found that I wanted to do it more than ever before. … As part of a natural progression, I wanted to publicly show the alignment with Chip Ganassi Racing to kick the sponsorship program into high gear. The goal is to run the full road and street program, and today is a very important first step in accomplishing that goal.”
If all goes according to plan, Johnson will team up with Scott Dixon, who gave Johnson some pointers about piloting an open-wheel car during the test at Indy. “It is always difficult to find great drivers but for them to be great guys too makes it even that much more challenging,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “To pair Jimmie with the likes of Scott Dixon is quite an opportunity. They are truly in rarified air and I think everyone knows by now that ‘I like winners.’ The goal right now is for us to run Jimmie in an Indy car for at least the next couple of seasons, and we want to show people we’re serious about the program. We felt it was important to get the partnership done and start putting the financial building blocks in place to make this a reality. Jimmie’s record speaks for itself and we feel a championship-level driver of his caliber can only make our team better.”
Johnson and Dixon would make for a winning combination, with Johnson’s seven NASCAR championships and 83 wins and Dixon’s five IndyCar titles and 50 overall wins. Johnson shares the Cup Series record with Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and Richard Petty, and is the only NASCAR driver to win five consecutive titles, from 2006 to 2010. Dixon’s five championships put him in second place in IndyCar, behind A.J. Foyt, and his 50 wins place him third behind Mario Andretti (52) and Foyt (67).
While there are still a few pieces of the puzzle that need to fall into place—sponsorships being the biggest piece—it’s almost a certainty that when the green flag drops at IndyCar’s season opener in 2021, Johnson will be behind the wheel of an open-wheel race car and not a golf cart.