Jimmie Johnson wants to drive in IndyCar race on July 4 at Indianapolis


NASCAR and IndyCar might have found the next driver ready to do “The Double” – with a twist.

Jimmie Johnson told NBC Sports’ Leigh Diffey in a Friday interview (video above) that he will take a “very hard look” at racing in the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course July 4. As part of IndyCar’s revamped schedule, the race was moved from May 9 and will take place directly before the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

The seven-time Cup Series champion will be in town to race the Brickyard 400 the following day.

“I think that would be an awesome opportunity,” Johnson told Diffey. “Clearly a lot of things to sort out, and I haven’t even asked permission yet to pull it off. But I love the idea and am so thankful Graham (Rahal) brought it up because I would have probably missed it and reacted too late.”

Rahal posted a Twitter video about the schedule yesterday and also tweeted about recruiting Johnson, who has expressed an interest in running IndyCar part time next season.

Johnson had planned to test at Barber Motorsports Park next month before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought racing to a standstill.

“What’s funny is (Rahal) was texting me yesterday,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, then I looked on Twitter and understood what he threw out there. I am so thankful he brought that up. I have not looked at the schedule. I know that IndyCar posted (a schedule), but with NASCAR’s schedule up in the air, my head wasn’t even around that.

“So if that is the case, and those weekends do line up, I’ll take a very hard look at it.”

Johnson said he would have to run the idea by Hendrick Motorsports.

“Definitely, there’s approvals on my side from my team, Mr. Hendrick, sponsors,” Johnson said. “It would be a Chevy, so that part would be pretty easy to pull off. That approval process would really be it.

“I’d find out pretty quickly. I’m not sure I’d ever get the answer I wanted, but I’d find out quickly.”

Rahal told NBCSports.com’s Bruce Martin in a Thursday interview about sending the tweet to Johnson: “We all know he is going to come here in the future. Right now, he wants to stay committed to his craft and what he is doing” in NASCAR.

Johnson already will be racing against IndyCar competition Saturday, having been added to the IndyCar iRacing Challenge that will be held at Watkins Glen International at 4 p.m. ET.

The July 4 weekend would mark the first IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader, but there have been crossovers before.

There have been four drivers who raced “The Double” — running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day: John Andretti (1994), Tony Stewart (1999, 2001), Robby Gordon (2000, ’02, ’03, ‘04) and Kurt Busch (2014).

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.