Jimmie Johnson opens the door to racing at the Indianapolis 500


Jimmie Johnson will be testing a Dallara-Honda on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course July 8, but the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion also is reconsidering the oval for an Indianapolis 500 attempt.

During a Zoom call with reporters Friday morning, Johnson said he’ll be monitoring safety enhancements this season in the NTT IndyCar Series, which has introduced a new aeroscreen that offers greater cockpit protection.

“Their safety on ovals is dramatically increased this year with the windscreen that they have, so I’ll keep a close eye on things there and just see how the safety level looks,” said Johnson, who attended preseason IndyCar testing at Circuit of the Americas in February. “I’ve always wanted to race the (Indy) 500. I’d have to do a lot of selling to my wife to get that hall pass to do it.

“My true desire right now is just to run the road courses. There are 12 on the schedule right now. I would be open to run all 12 if the right opportunity came along.”

Johnson previously has said he would focus only on road and street courses in IndyCar and avoid ovals.

After an Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet test scheduled for April 6 at Barber Motorsports Park was scrubbed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he will be testing for Chip Ganassi Racing next week at IMS.

Manufacturer conflicts typically have precluded drivers from crossing over to race for other automakers. Despite his longtime racing ties to General Motors, Johnson said he was allowed to run a Honda because “everybody’s been super understanding that I just want to get on track and experience an Indy car and see if it’s something that I want to do in the future. I feel like it is.

“But my great relationship with Chevrolet, they were understanding that laps for me in any experience that I can have in an Indy car is really the most important thing. Honestly any test date I can get, I want to take right now, just to get every lap that I possibly can, so thankful that things came together so quickly with CGR. And certainly there is the manufacturer conflict, but Chevrolet was very understanding.”

Johnson, who will be retiring from his full-time job in NASCAR after 2020, said he had “a lot of options” for racing IndyCar in 2021 and had talked to more teams than McLaren and Ganassi.

“There hasn’t been any serious conversations,” Johnson said. “It’s really just been about going to the track for the team to look at me and to inform their opinion of my abilities in one of their race cars, and certainly I have that same opportunity to see what I think of each team and what an Indy car even feels like.

“So very early stages of all of this. It’s hard to read too far into things at this point. But most importantly, I’m just thankful that teams are listening, willing, able and taking me to the track just so I can learn.”

Johnson said his goal for the Ganassi test was being within a reasonable time of the race pace. Though he has Fourth of July family plans, he planned “to keep an eye on” Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix (noon ET, NBC).

He also has been leaning on five-time champion Scott Dixon (who drives for Ganassi) and was in an IndyCar simulator Thursday and “starting to connect the dots and understand the track. Understand braking marks, shift points, speed. All the things you really need to know.

“To be at such an iconic track (to test) does make it very special. I’ve just been super excited to get in these cars and experience them. … I’m very thankful for the friends I have in the open wheel world. I’m not sure where it’s going to end up, where it’s going to take me, but thankful for those relationships and these opportunities that I have right now.”

The El Cajon, California, native said he hopes to race the Long Beach Grand Prix, the closest race to his hometown and also where he had meetings nearly 30 years ago with Chevrolet racing executives that charted his racing career into NASCAR.

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.