Jimmie Johnson exploring oval testing options to prepare for Indy 500 in 2022

Jimmie Johnson Indy 500
Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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With the cancellation of the IndyCar round at Toronto, there will be no race added for Jimmie Johnson – but work continues toward a possible Indy 500 debut next year.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion told NBC Sports that he wants to test at either Texas Motor Speedway or Homestead-Miami Speedway during the next two months so he can run in an anticipated fall tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and complete the Rookie Orientation Program that is required to race in the Indy 500.

“We’re trying to set up a test for me to run a big oval so that I could then go to the Brickyard for the fall tire test that typically happens and go through my Rookie Orientation,” Johnson told NBC Sports. “And we’re trying to find either Texas or Homestead. I need to run one of those two first before I can go to the ROP at the Brickyard in the fall.”

Toronto was canceled in May, and IndyCar announced last week that the event won’t be replaced after considering the addition of a second race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (where the series will race Sunday at noon ET on NBC).

‘HE’S GOING TO GET THERE’: Inside Jimmie’s rookie IndyCar season at halfway

Johnson was slated to run the 13 street and road courses this season in the No. 48 Dallara-Honda with primary sponsorship from Carvana. With the Toronto Grand Prix being scrubbed last week for the second consecutive year (because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), he now is halfway through a 12-race slate. Of IndyCar’s remaining seven races, Johnson will miss only the Aug. 21 race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (which is a 1-mile oval).

“My Carvana agreement really did just cover the races in the U.S.,” said Johnson, who has a two-year deal at Chip Ganassi Racing with Carvana backing. “Toronto was going to be picked up by NTT. So I don’t have that pressure, and the team can certainly handle the NTT side and fulfill that obligation in another way. So right now, it just looks like 12 this year.”

Johnson initially had reservations about racing IndyCar on ovals. But since working as an analyst for NBC Sports at the Indy 500 and growing comfortable with the safety enhancement of the aeroscreen (which was introduced last year), his enthusiasm has spiked for racing the Indy 500 and on ovals in the future.

“The better that I do, the more Jimmie is going to want to get in the car,” Tony Kanaan, who was hired to drive the No. 48 on ovals the next two years, said with a laugh last month at Indy.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.