Jimmie Johnson IndyCar Watch, Race 12: A solid Long Beach homecoming to end year

IndyCar Jimmie Johnson Long Beach
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

LONG BEACH, California — Tying a career-best for the second consecutive race, Jimmie Johnson closed out his rookie season Sunday in the NTT IndyCar Series with his biggest in-race improvement yet.

After starting 27th of 28 cars in the Acura Long Beach of Grand Prix, the Southern California native finished 17th and on the lead lap for the third time in four races (after finishing a lap down in his first eight IndyCar starts).

An entourage of 80 friends, family and sponsor VIPs were on hand to watch the No. 48 Dallara-Honda in the 2021 season finale.

“So many lessons learned, so many amazing experiences had through the course of this year,” Johnson, 45, said about making the transition after 19 seasons and seven championships in the NASCAR Cup Series. “Certainly, my growth through the season was something I’m very proud of and felt very competitive and racy. Had a nice couple of races to close out the season and actually raced our way to 22nd in points (Sunday), so I’m very proud with my last few passes that I made in the race here at Long Beach and then to see the team have the success it has with all three teammates winning races. And of course, the championship going to Alex (Palou).

“Very proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing. Very proud to be in the IndyCar Series and very excited for 2022.”

Next season is expected to include an Indy 500 debut for Johnson, who will be taking his first IndyCar laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in an Oct. 8 tire test.

His car will be shed of the neon stripe that he carried as a rookie, which he playfully removed at Long Beach (as part of a series of social videos that also included fellow rookies Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin).

2021 Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach
Jimmie Johnson drove from 27th to 17th in the Acura Grand Prix Of Long Beach (Greg Doherty/Getty Images).

Johnson said before the race that “truth be told, I thought where I am now (in performance) is where I would have started the season and just wasn’t the case. I feel good about my growth. I know in my heart there’s nothing else I could have done. The team has supported me. I’ve been working my tail off. It’s just taken a while to get it to click like I need it to, and it’s finally coming.”

The seven-time NASCAR champion said “a really good goal” is becoming a consistent top-10 finisher during his second year in IndyCar.

“In order to do that I’ve got to qualify better,” he said. “My race pace has been pretty strong for a few races now. It’s just starting so far behind. The way the cars get strung out, and how hard it is to pass. If you took my race speed and put me in 10th or 15th, I’d maintain. So I’ve got to figure how to qualify better and start there and stay there.”

NEXT: Johnson will be testing Oct. 8 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, likely completing the Rookie Orientation Program in anticipation of making his Indy 500 debut next May.


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

RACE 11: Career-best finish and a big moment at Laguna Seca

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

In 12 starts, Johnson completed 909 of 1,005 laps with an average start of 23.6 and an average finish of 21.1 (two DNFs).

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.