Jimmie Johnson IndyCar Watch, Race 11: Best finish, memorable collision at Laguna Seca


Jimmie Johnson delivered the best finish of his NTT IndyCar Series career Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which also featured the most memorable highlight of his rookie season.

With seven laps remaining, Formula One veteran and fellow IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean attempted to pass Johnson on the entry to the 2.238-mile road course’s famous Corkscrew turn, and their cars made contact.

Grosjean’s No. 51 Dallara-Honda went airborne while Johnson’s No. 48 Dallara-Honda made a hard right over the curbing and through the green runoff area, but both drivers were able to continue. Grosjean apologized for the collision in postrace interviews after placing third, noting that Johnson was trying to impede his progress in catching teammate and points leader Alex Palou, who finished second.

“I thought our day was over,” Johnson told NBC Sports reporter Kevin Lee. “I couldn’t believe that he threw it in there that late on me. Luckily we both saved it. I thought I lost my wrist, too, as the wheel went whipping around, but we both saved it, and I was worried about a penalty from being inside the green. But thankfully I didn’t get that penalty and was able to get a career-best finish.”

After starting 25th, Johnson finished 17th of 27 cars — two spots better than his previous best of 19th (at Barber Motorsports Park and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course). Despite finishing a lap down at Laguna Seca, Jimmie Johnson finished ahead of three former  Indy 500 winners (Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves and Will Power) and some IndyCar winners (Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe and Rinus VeeKay) with some of his best passes of the season.

Johnson said he started the race thinking his Chip Ganassi Racing team was “in big trouble” because of tire degradation, but “my life was so much better and so much more competitive” with the consistency of new tires on the primary and alternate compounds.

“Solid day for me here at WeatherTech Raceway,” the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion said. “Pretty racy track and very interesting race as the tires were falling off, (and) each team was trying to utilize strategy. All in all, created a lot of passing, and I really had a great experience learning how to set cars up, make passes and work my way up. A fun day and looking forward to closing things down next week in Long Beach.”

Since crashing multiple times at the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Johnson has avoided any major incidents while assembling a three-race streak of his best results of the season. Laguna Seca followed consecutive lead-lap finishes at Portland and the Indy GP.

Jimmie Johnson finished a career-best 17th at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

NEXT: Johnson will be racing in the season finale at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, where his dreams of racing in IndyCar initially were kindled and some of his biggest career moves were hammered out (during 1990s meetings with GM Racing officials). The 16th and final round of the 2021 IndyCar season will be at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN) on Sept. 26.


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

RACE 9: Back home again and feeling racy in Indy

RACE 10: Solid weekend and winning assist in Portland

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

In 11 starts, Johnson has completed 824 of 920 laps with an average start of 23.3 and an average finish of 21.5 (two DNFs).

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.