Sights, sounds and speeds from preseason IndyCar testing Monday at Sebring session

Johnson Laguna Seca IndyCar
Jimmie Johnson

Sebring International Raceway roared to life Monday with NTT IndyCar Series preseason testing as several drivers (including newcomer Jimmie Johnson) posted speeds while getting ready for a season opener that still is three months away.

Because it’s a private test, IndyCar didn’t provide official speeds from the session. But social media accounts were humming with photos and videos from the test at historic road course in Sebring, Florida.

Johnson, who tested last Nov. 2 at Barber Motorsports Park (where the 2021 season is slated to open April 11), was back in the Carvana-sponsored No. 48 Dallara-Honda with Chip Ganassi Racing, which also had teammates Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou on hand.

Helio Castroneves, who is running a partial 2021 schedule with Meyer Shank Racing that includes the Indianapolis 500, also posted an Instagram video from the test.

Sebastien Bourdais and Dalton Kellett from AJ Foyt Racing also were testing, as was Carlin Racing with Max Chilton.

Andretti Autosport, which recently announced it would be fielding four cars in 2021 with the scaling back of Marco Andretti’s schedule, posted that its cars would be on track Tuesday at Sebring.

“Here at Sebring, having a great day getting a fair amount of laps in the race car,” Johnson said in a video posted by Carvana Racing. “Really just trying to understand how to slow the car down and maximize the car in the braking zones. My teammates have been great working really well with me helping me get up to speed. Having a ton of fun.

“So proud to have the Carvana colors on the race car and a lot of equipment in place and looking good and very excited for the 2021 car unveil coming down the pipeline before long.”

According to Autosport, Johnson turned a session-high 160 laps with a best lap of 53.691 seconds. Dixon led the session with a 52.350-second lap. Johnson ranked last among seven drivers and was more than a half-second off the sixth-fastest speed posted by Dalton Kellett (52.692 seconds).

That was an improvement over the Barber test, where Johnson had been nearly 3 seconds off the top speed after shaving “seconds” off his lap time over the course of the day. Johnson also tested Nov. 10 at Laguna Seca Raceway but otherwise has been limited to simulator work and driving in cars from other series on road courses such as Sebring because of IndyCar’s restrictive testing policy.

Monday’s test was the start of a busy week in Florida for Johnson, who will be on track Friday at Daytona International Speedway as testing begins for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 30-31. Johnson will be driving for Action Express in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

Supercross: Enzo Lopes will race with ClubMX in 2024

Lopes ClubMX 2024
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Coming off his best Supercross season to date, Enzo Lopes has re-signed with Muc-Off / ClubMX Yamaha and will race for the team in 2024. The deal is for Supercross only.

Enzo Lopes won his heat race in Denver and finished fourth in the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

Lopes debuted in the Supercross series in 2019 on a Suzuki and scored his first top-10 finishes in his last two starts of that season. Showing consistent improvement, he earned six top-10s in eight Main events the following year and finished fifth in the 250 East standings. In 2022, he scored his first top-five at Daytona and finished in the top five in points again.

“I am happy to be returning to ClubMX for another season,” Lopes said in a press release. “It is like family to me there and that is very important. Although I had many options, staying where I am makes the most sense for many reasons. The bikes are great, the people are great, the tracks are amazing, and I am surrounded by people that care about me. We all want to win and together we will get there.”

While he improved his season-best performance by only one position this year, it was nevertheless a breakout season. Lopes barely missed the podium three times in 2023 with fourth-place finishes at San Diego, Seattle, and Denver.

His strong performance him rumored to be speaking with factory teams.

“We could see the growth from Enzo every time he gets on the bike,” said team owner Brandon Haas. “We all knew it was just a matter of time before he would be noticed by everyone, and we are proud of him on many levels. He had some heat race wins and qualified fastest at three events this season. It would be hard not to be noticed going that fast. He had a big decision to make and we are glad he chose to stay with us at ClubMX.”

Lopes had three podium finishes in heat races this year, including a win preceding his fourth-place finish in Denver.

Lopes will join Jeremy Martin, Phil Nicoletti and Garrett Marchbanks, who announced a two-year extension with the team in January, at the ClubMX team.