Lingering injury forces U.S. driver Bryce Menzies to withdraw from Dakar Rally

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The United States contingent in the 2017 Dakar Rally has suffered a major blow – even though the Rally doesn’t begin until Jan. 2.

Dakar Rally coverage begins on Tuesday, January 3, at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In a release, driver Bryce Menzies, who was slated to compete in his first-ever Rally, has been forced to withdraw from the world-renowned race through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. The reason given is the 29-year-old Menzies continues to experience complications from an injury he sustained in a crash last August. The official Dakar website has also confirmed Menzies’ withdrawal.

“I am beyond disappointed to have to withdraw from starting this year’s Dakar,” Menzies said, according to the release. “It has been a lifelong goal of mine that will have to wait another year before I can attempt.”

Menzies broke the world record for a truck jump, flying 379.4 feet through the air, in August near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After setting the mark, Menzies had planned to repeat the jump – and try to break his new mark – during a live webcast a week later. But during practice for the second jump, his Red Bull truck crashed and Menzies suffered a broken shoulder.


Since then, he’s experienced complications, including the need for an additional surgery, leaving him physically unable to perform in the Dakar Rally.

“I knew it would it be tough to get back to 100 percent after my injuries from the world record New Frontier jump,” Menzies said. “Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get to a point where I’d be both comfortable in the car for that long and technically able to compete at the level warranted to win.

“It also wasn’t worth re-injuring anything and then being out for the more races this season.”

But Menzies isn’t giving up totally on racing in the Rally: he’s just postponing it a year.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my MINI later this year as we put in the homework needed to get ready for 2018 Dakar,” he said.

Menzies will be replaced in his MINI John Cooper Works Rally by Argentinean driver Orlando Terranova and German navigator Andreas Schulz.

Terranova finished fifth in the 2013 and 2014 Dakar Rally’s, while Schulz is a two-time winner of the legendary event (2001, 2003).

“(Menzies’ withdrawal is) really bad news, X-raid Team Manager Sven Quandt said in the release. “Bryce is a very gifted driver and certainly would have secured several good results in his first Dakar.

“But it also is of major importance that he fully focuses on his recovery to afterwards return to motor racing in top form. So, we and MINI opted for letting Orly and Andi switch to the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. They are a very competitive pairing.”

Menzies’ original co-driver was slated to be fellow U.S. racer Peter Mortensen. There has been no word yet on whether Menzies’ withdrawal from the Rally will also force Mortensen out or if he’ll join another team. Like Menzies, Mortensen was also slated to compete in his first-ever Dakar Rally.

Also, click here to read about Menzies’ record-breaking jump from back in August.

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Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “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. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “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.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”