Jimmie Johnson IndyCar Watch, Race 9: Back home again and feeling racy at the Brickyard


INDIANAPOLIS — On a new course but familiar turf in more ways than one, the Brickyard was as good as Jimmie Johnson has been during his rookie season in IndyCar.

On the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (where he has four Brickyard 400 victories on the oval), Johnson tied a season-best 19th-place finish while finishing on the lead lap for the first time during his nine starts on the NTT IndyCar Series circuit this year.

After qualifying 22nd ahead of IndyCar winners Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe and briefly flirting with advancement to the final round, Johnson embraced adaptation during 85 laps on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile layout.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver dodged some incidents early, shifted into fuel mileage midrace and then made some clean passes for position in his most competitive outing in single-seater racing — undoubtedly in part because he has many laps on the IMS road course as any track, having raced there in May and tested there twice before.

A great day at the racetrack,” Johnson said about Saturday’s race. “This weekend has just been full of more confidence and understanding of the car. Certainly more understanding of the track since I’ve raced here before and also tested. Certainly my ceiling from the spring race was my floor, and I’m able to build on that.

NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Practice
Jimmie Johnson holds his daughter Lydia on the grid before Saturday’s NTT IndyCar Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Sean Gardner/Getty Images).

“On top of that, I had some racecraft going on. I had to work some fuel numbers and wasn’t in the race that I wanted to be in midrace, but with the cautions at the end, we were able to go back to full power, make a couple of passes, work my way up into the high teens. Just had an awesome day in this Carvana Honda. Good fun. Can’t wait to to go to Portland (NBC, 3 p.m. ET, Sept. 12) and do it all again.”

During IndyCar’s second annual crossover weekend with NASCAR at the Brickyard, the Cup Series practiced just ahead of Saturday’s IndyCar race. That gave the seven-time NASCAR champion an opportunity to catch up with old friends at the track for the first time since ending his full-time Cup career last November.

Former crew chief Chad Knaus, now the vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports, hung out on Johnson’s pit stand during his qualifying session, which might have been the highlight of the No. 48 Dallara-Honda’s weekend. Despite a slicker track under much hotter conditions, Johnson qualified more than a second faster in further evidence that he is improving.

Jimmie Johnson confers with Chad Knaus after qualifying 22nd on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Doug Mathews/IndyCar).

“That was a good session,” he told NBC Sports pit reporter Dave Burns. “My confidence keeps building for me, the more laps that I get under my belt the better I go. That was a great session to be only six 10ths (of a second) off my temmates. This is a huge accomplishment for me.

“My instincts of attacking in a Cup car are the horrible points to attack in an IndyCar. I still have to think my way through when I attack (and) how I attack. At some point, I’m going to forget about all that stuff, and it’s going to be second nature for me. I’m excited for that day to come.”

NEXT: Johnson will miss the IndyCar’s final oval race of the season Saturday at World Wide Technology Raceway before returning for the final three races of the year. The first will be the 14th round of the 2021 season will be at 3 p.m. ET (NBC) on Sept. 12 at Portland International Raceway.


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

RACE 6: One critical mistake at Road America

RACE 7: An enjoyable ride at “awesome” Mid-Ohio

RACE 8: A big bump but still having a blast in Nashville

‘HE’S GOING TO GET THERE’: An inside look at Jimmie Johnson’s rookie season at the halfway mark

In nine starts, Johnson has completed 620 of 715 laps with an average start of 23.2 and an average finish of 22.1.

AUTO: AUG 14 INDYCAR - Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix
Jimmie Johnson tied a season-best 22nd while finishing on the lead lap for the first time in his IndyCar career (Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

How to Watch Seattle Supercross
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SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points