Jimmie Johnson IndyCar Watch, Race 6: The learning curve continues at Road America

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Jimmie Johnson knew his rookie season in the NTT IndyCar Series would be an ongoing education, and Road America was another edifying experience for the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Johnson finished 22nd of 25 drivers Sunday in his No. 48 Dallara-Honda. He also spun in Turn 7 to cause a yellow on Lap 16 (the fifth caution flag he has been involved in through six starts this season).

Though he placed a spot ahead of where he qualified Saturday, the race seemed more of a slog for Johnson, who had shown flashes of speed in practice after entering the race weekend at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course with experience from having tested.

“For me a very good Father’s Day,” he said. “Unfortunately, one mistake made at the exit of turn 7 really cost me and got me a lap down. Once you’re a lap down on these road courses, there’s really no way to recover from that.

“But a lot of laps logged, a lot learned and sooner or later, I’ll get a good clean race and I think our results will be much better than what we posted the last few finishes. But on to Mid-Ohio. Can’t wait to get back in this Carvana Honda and do it again.”

After tweeting Saturday “had been a good day,” Johnson summed up Road America in a Monday tweet as “learn*ing – the acquistion of knowledge or skills through experience, study or by being taught.”

It might have been better if Johnson had been able to start slightly higher on the 4.014-mile, 14-turn road course that struck his eye. Johnson said he had trouble getting a handle on the two sets of red tires that he ran for two laps apiece in qualifying.

“I really didn’t get into the rhythm at the peak of the tire,” he said. “Just didn’t get all I could out of the car. A few little mistakes here and there. But live and learn. I think one long session probably would have been best for me, and I could have been another second or so faster.

“We’ll take it. And every lap right now makes such a big difference for me and my confidence and ability in the car. We’ll keep plugging along.”

Jimmie Johnson with his family on the grid at Road America (James Black/IndyCar).

Though Sunday was a less than stellar result, Johnson did get to celebrate in victory lane as Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palou scored his second victory of the season and retook the points lead with seven races left in the season.

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

NEXT: Johnson will be making his debut July 4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The 10th round of the 2021 season will be at noon ET (NBC).

Johnson’s schedule also was shortened by a race this week with news that IndyCar won’t replace the Toronto race (which was scrubbed for the second consecutive season because of the COVID-19 pandemic). That leaves 12 street and road courses for Johnson and his Chip Ganassi Racing team.


JOHNSON’S ROOKIE SEASON

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is racing 12 road and street course events this year. Here’s how he has fared in previous races:

RACE 1: How Jimmie fared in the season opener

RACE 2: Rough day at the office in St. Petersburg

RACES 4-5: A challenging weekend at the Detroit Grand Prix

In six starts, Johnson has completed 438 of 470 laps with an average start of 22.8 and an average finish of 22nd.
AUTO: JUN 18 INDYCAR - Road America
Jimmie Johnson finished 22nd at Road America (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).