Jimmie Johnson, Romain Grosjean scheduled to try Indy 500 rookie program Wednesday

Johnson Grosjean Indy 500 rookie
Jenna Watson/IndyStar via USA TODAY SPORTS NETWORK

Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean will turn laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for the first time Wednesday, attempting to complete the Rookie Orientation Program for the 106th Indy 500 next year.

The session will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET (updated from an original noon start time because of the weather forecast) as Johnson and Grosjean, who focused on road and street courses as NTT IndyCar Series rookies, run through the test required before qualifying and racing for the Indy 500.

Grosjean recently announced he will run a full-time schedule for Andretti Autosport next season, and Johnson is expected to add the Indy 500 to his part-time schedule next year with Chip Ganassi Racing.

The Rookie Orientation Program involves drivers advancing through three phases of controlled speeds around the 2.5-mile layout.

Grosjean made his oval debut last year at World Wide Technology Raceway, finishing 14th with Dale Coyne Racing.

Johnson tested on an IndyCar oval for the first time Aug. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway, hitting average speeds of over 214 mph on the 1.5-mile oval. Teammate Scott Dixon shook down his No. 48 Dallara-Honda, and Johnson also got pointers from Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti.

After turning about 200 laps at Texas, Johnson said he was “definitely a step closer” to racing at the Indy 500.

“I think that there are more conversations to be had with family, team and sponsors, at least another test session ahead of me before I can really make a decision,” he said. “but driving the car only piqued my interest more.”

There is a possibility that the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion could add more oval races to his 2022 schedule, though it would require additional sponsorship as well as greater acclimation to turning left in IndyCar after doing it for nearly two decades in NASCAR.

“There’s still so many hurdles between now and one event that to look at the others is tough at this point,” he said. “I will need to face that decision and that opportunity in the somewhat near future, and we’ll just see how this next test session (at Indy) goes and really how everything aligns.”

Johnson and Grosjean just wrapped their rookie seasons in IndyCar on an upward trajectory. Grosjean scored his third podium finish of the season at Laguna Seca Raceway (after colliding with Johnson before taking third). Johnson tied a career-best finish in the Grand Prix of Long Beach season finale, finishing 17th for the second consecutive race.

Kyle Larson wins High Limit Sprint race at Tri-City Speedway ahead of Rico Abreu

Larson High Limit Tri-City
High Limit Sprint Car Series

A late race caution set up a 14-lap shootout at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois with Kyle Larson winning his second consecutive High Limit Sprint Car Series race over Rico Abreu.

Starting eight on the grid after a disappointing pole dash, Larson missed several major incidents as he worked his way to the front. On Lap 1 of 35, a five-car accident claimed Tyler Courtney and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, who both took a tumble and before collecting three other cars. Once that red flag was lifted, it didn’t take long for drivers to get tangled again as the leader Danny Dietrich experienced engine trouble on Lap 8. When he slowed rapidly, second-place Brent Marks collided with his back tire, ending the day for both.

Larson moved up to fourth with this incident.

Another red flag on Lap 21 for a flip involving Parker Price-Miller set up the dash for the win.

“My car felt really good and then we got that red,” Larson said from victory lane. “I was kind of running through the crumbs before that in 3 and 4; I could tell the top was getting really sketchy. Parker was making mistakes up there.

“When the red came out, I could see there was a clean lane of grip – not just marbles. It’s hard to see when you’re at speed. I figured Rico was going to run the top and he did. I got to his inside a couple of times and I was like ‘please don’t go to the bottom,’ and I threw a slider on him. Then he went to the bottom and I thought I was screwed until he spun his tires really bad off the corner and I was able to hit the top okay and get another run and slide him. I got good grip off the cushion.”

The victory makes Larson the first repeat winner in the series’ five-race history. He beat Justin Sanders earlier this month at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

With 10 laps remaining, Larson caught and pressured Abreu. The two threw a series of sliders at one another until Abreu bobbled on the cushion and lost momentum.

“Anytime you race Rico and he’s on the wall like that, you have to get aggressive,” Larson said. “He’s pushing so hard that just to stay in the striking zone if he makes a mistake, you have to push hard too.”

For Abreu, it was his second near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps.

“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes at the end,” Abreu said. “It’s just hard to judge race pace. You’ve got Kyle behind you and [Anthony] Macri and these guys that have had speed all year long. I was racing as hard as I could and the mistake factor is more and more critical.”

Cory Eliason earned his career-best High Limit finish of third after starting deep in the field in 13th.

Macri lost one position during the race to finish fourth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Visiting from the NASCAR Cup series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th in the 25-car field after advancing from the B-Main.

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway