New IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson playfully gives ‘the boot’ to NASCAR firesuit fashion

IndyCar Jimmie Johnson boot
Chris Owens/IndyCar

On the list of myriad adjustments — horsepower! downforce! braking! — facing Jimmie Johnson in the move from NASCAR to IndyCar, who had boot cut as the most controversial?

It was style over speed this weekend, though, after Johnson unveiled his new firesuit for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s driver of the No. 48 Dallara-Honda in 13 road and street courses was sporting the straight-leg, form-fitting uniform favored by IndyCar and IMSA sports car drivers instead of the looser boot cut that is popular in NASCAR.

Johnson took quite the good-natured ribbing on social media as Chase Elliott (who said during a testing break this week that he was “Team Boot Cut until I get fired”), Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer were among the seven-time Cup Series champion’s playful detractors who viewed his new single-seater digs as a fashion faux pas.

According to a story by Jordan Bianchi on The Athletic, Busch took the boot cut seriously when he made his 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona debut. Though he adapted in many ways from his No. 18 Toyota Camry to the No. 14 Lexus RC-F GT3, the two-time Cup champion drew a line in the sand on his attire.

NEW SCHEME: Johnson unveils 2021 livery

NEW GUY: Romain Grosjean makes his testing debut with Dale Coyne Racing

“The other guys looked like they’re wearing something that they’re getting ready for a flood — looked like underwear, long johns,” Busch told Bianchi. “Where mine look like a pair of pants. I’ve got the regular boot cut on my firesuit, NASCAR style. Theirs are all wrong; mine’s right.”

In the roomier cockpits of stock cars, there is more room for a baggier, flowing uniform that actually can swallow up a driver’s shoes.

Such a luxury isn’t afforded in IndyCar for practical reasons. As Graham Rahal tweeted, any extra material can interfere with manipulating the pedals that are essential to generating speed.

All of this made for a lighthearted and pleasant diversion with IndyCar still idling after its original season opener at St.  Petersburg, Florida, was postponed by more than a month. The April 18 race at Barber Motorsports Park on NBC will raise the curtain on the 2021 season, but there will be preseason media and testing this month and next — including a multiday session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

That also could bring us the next “debate” spurred by Johnson, who devilishly noted that the NASCAR handling vernacular of “tight” and “loose” also is falling by the wayside in his big move.

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.