McLaren SP engineer believes Jimmie Johnson would adapt well to IndyCar

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina — Arrow McLaren SP race engineer Craig Hampson is the man in charge of Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 effort this May.

He was Sebastien Bourdais’ secret weapon during the Frenchman’s four consecutive Champ Car Series championship seasons from 2004-2007 at Newman-Haas Racing.

From 2017 through the end of last season, he was reunited with Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing, winning twice and making the Fast Nine in Indy 500 qualiyfing the past two years.

Hampson looks forward to working with one of the world’s best-known drivers as they prepare for the 104th Indianapolis 500.

And he might have a chance to work with another great driver in 2021.

If Jimmie Johnson agrees to a five-race road-course deal with Arrow McLaren SP, Hampson figures to be heavily involved with the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion.

That pairing has been highly speculated since Johnson was Arrow McLaren SP’s guest at NTT IndyCar Series “Spring Training” at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 11.

That was also the week Johnson began his final full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series racing in the 62nd Daytona 500. This weekend, the El Cajon, California, native is making what might be his last start at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, the track nearest to his hometown and the site of his first Cup win in 2002.

For now, there is no agreement to put Johnson in an Arrow McLaren SP car in 2021, but as was told during his visit, it’s unlikely Johnson came to COTA the week before the Daytona 500 just to watch Indy cars turn laps.

Johnson told during his visit that a limited schedule of road course races is something on his “bucket List.” He also wants to compete in some of the world’s premier sports car races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Hampson was in Huntersville, North Carolina, at the General Motors simulator Thursday working to help prepare Arrow McLaren SP’s two full-time IndyCar Series entries this season. In an exclusive interview with, he was asked about the possibility of working with Johnson in 2021. Hampson said he has not been told of a possible pairing with Johnson but believed he would fit in well in IndyCar.

“I have to say, if Jimmie Johnson is driving a car in IndyCar races for our team, I know nothing about that,” Hampson told “Clearly, Jimmie is an extremely talented guy. What he has achieved in NASCAR speaks for itself. I think it is cool that he is looking at other opportunities following his retirement from running NASCAR full time. I wouldn’t put the cart before the horse. There are a lot of steps between here and Jimmie Johnson running a full road course season.

“I certainly do hope we have a full-time third car next year at Arrow McLaren SP because that is what I came to do. It does feel really weird when I’m at a test and don’t actually have a car to run. You sit there thinking, ‘What would I do right now or ask right now?’ You are sitting there observing.

“I really do hope we are able to expand to that third car, but at the moment, I’m focused on helping (McLaren SP drivers) Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew and making sure we have something quick for all three of them in May.”

Johnson’s entire NASCAR Cup career has been with Chevrolet. Hampson was hired at Arrow McLaren SP to build a third car that will run in numerous races in 2021.

If Johnson decides to start checking off his IndyCar “bucket list” with Arrow McLaren SP, Hampson likely would be the man who would guide the effort.

Hampson will be the race engineer for Alonso’s No. 66 Chevrolet in the 2020 Indianapolis 500. He also will provide technical advice to Arrow McLaren SP’s two first-year drivers in IndyCar.

For much of the last decade, when Hampson was at Andretti Autosport and later at Dale Coyne Racing, he worked on Honda Indy cars. Now that he is part of Chevrolet, he is helping bridge the gap between Chevrolet’s technical assets and the McLaren Formula One team located in Woking, Surrey, England.

For a self-professed engineering “geek,” Hampson is fascinated with the technical potential of that Chevrolet and McLaren have to offer Arrow McLaren SP.

“If I’m honest, both the ability to be exposed to the General Motors and Chevrolet engineering program and the R&D tools, plus the ability to be exposed to the McLaren F1 R&D tools and engineering program, were very much a major factor in my decision to come to work for this team,” Hampson said.

“I don’t want to get stagnant. I want to still learn. I want to be exposed to the state of the art. I’m curious about all this stuff. Right now, I’m on my national tour of all that Chevrolet can offer as part of their IndyCar program. I will be over in England at some point, but right now it has been teleconferences and video chats.

“Honestly, that was the No. 1 factor. I want to keep learning and I want to keep being exposed to what is new and relevant. Chevy definitely has some really cool tools available for us to play with.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Motocross 2023: Results and points after SuperMotocross Round 18 at Hangtown


For the second consecutive week, Jett Lawrence had perfect results in the Pro Motocross round at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, California with a pair of moto wins and the overall victory, only this time he didn’t have Chase Sexton, who sat out the round with a concussion, to keep him honest in the second race.

Jett Lawrence’s performance in the first two Motocross rounds has him thinking of a rookie championship. – Align Media

Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.

Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.

Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence showed his back to the competition at Hangtown, just as he did the week prior at Fox Raceway. – Align Media

The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.

In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.

Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.

Moto 1 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Moto 2 Results | Lap Chart | Fastest Segment Laps | Consolation Race

Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.

Haiden Deegan scored podiums in both Motocross rounds of 2023. – Align Media

Tom Vialle tied his career-best finish of fourth overall with a seventh-place finish in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. Vialle was fourth last week in overall ranking and has one fourth-place finish in the Supercross series that came in the Triple Crown format at Arlington.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.

Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.

2023 Motocross Results

Round 1: Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence win

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 18: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top
Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s