Jimmie Johnson – too old for NASCAR, eyes IndyCar

Johnson thinks an IndyCar might suit his style better. He's in for a rude awakening.
Johnson thinks an IndyCar might suit his style better. He's in for a rude awakening.

44-year old Jimmie Johnson can't win in NASCAR anymore so now he's thinking maybe he can do IndyCar. Johnson appeared on the 273rd edition of the Dale Jr. Download podcast and admitted that testing a McLaren F1 car last November in a ride-swap with Fernando Alonso wet his appetite for road course racing in open-wheel or sportscars.

“I don’t feel like it’s my strong suit but … when I’ve been in cars with more downforce and more braking ability, I’ve been much more competitive, like, when I’ve been in sportscars.

“I just think my driving style isn’t ideal for a big heavy Cup car. And hopping in that Formula 1 car and having that chance to match Fernando’s lap time as I did in Bahrain, was an eye-opening experience for me. Like maybe on a road course, those types of car fit my style a little bit more."

Of course an F1 is so technically advanced, it's 99% car and 1% driver. How he would fare in an IndyCar where the driver is far more important, remains to be seen.

And at 44 years old the age clock has about run out.

“Really, it’s just my internal fire to compete, who I am," replied Johnson. “And this is also a similar place to where I was prior to all my success at Hendrick: I had to fight.

“I can’t tell you how close I was to being unemployed through my journey as a young driver coming up. Thankfully Chevrolet had my back and was trying to support me, but the manufacturers and how expensive racing is, there’s only so much they can do. I was very fortunate to have people believe in me and see my work ethic and my hunger and give me that next opportunity. And then also people mentored me, that had credibility and helped with that momentum that it takes for a driver to get somewhere.

“So I’ve been here before and I’ve worked through it, so to me there’s not this black hole – ‘Oh, I’m not going to figure it out.’ Hell no, I’ve been here before. I know what’s going on within my team, I know what I’m capable of, I’ve been here before and the fire is there. I just… I’m not done yet. That’s really what it’s about."

Nonetheless, Earnhardt asked, “How much more do you want?" and Johnson replied: “I don’t know. That’s a question that’s been asked a lot and I think in the next four to six months, I’m sure Mr. Hendrick’s going to be pushing on me for an answer!

“So I know that’s out there, but if I’m forced to make a decision, I’m choosing more years. I’m not done yet. That fire’s way too intense.

“Another interesting thing is, along the way I’ve been able to build friendships with Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, yourself, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart… and you guys may not have noticed but I’ve asked questions, just trying to gauge how I feel about the years that I have left, and what signs I need to have to step down. And it’s all led to, ‘Don’t give up, don’t stop, don’t quit until you feel fully satisfied…’

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