Jimmie Johnson grew up in southern California, worlds away from stock car racing. In fact, open-wheel racing was the route he originally considered when he began talking to Chevrolet years ago.
Up in Dover Johnson talked with reporters about those initial dreams and how the Indy 500 was what he grew up dreaming of. He wanted that so much he'd hang on the fence to watch, sneak into hospitality rooms at the Long Beach Grand Prix and hope one day he could drive a CART IndyCar.
"My early conversations with Chevrolet were going the open-wheel route and moving in at the time maybe to TransAm, then maybe Toyota Atlantic, then IndyCar," Johnson said. "And when their direction changed and they were pulling out of open-wheel, my options were pretty clear at that point. I packed up and moved to North Carolina (laughs). So I would love to do it."
Johnson acknowledges, though, that he couldn't just get into an open-wheel car and be successful right away. The same way open-wheel drivers can't immediately be successful in stock car racing.
"I do think, based on conversations with Juan (Pablo Montoya) and with Sam (Hornish Jr.) and with Tony (Stewart) and Dario (Franchitti) for that matter, it's easier going to drive a vehicle that has more grip," Johnson said. "So I think in some ways, granted you bust your butt in those cars and it hurts (laughs), they don't absorb the impact very well and they're very dangerous cars, but I think if you went the other way it might be a little easier until you get started, but at the same time it's still such a specific discipline that it would be tough. But I would love to do it.
"Hopefully someday the moons would align and I could pull it off." Orlando Sentinel
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