Rain cuts short Indy 500 rookie test for Jimmie Johnson, Romain Grosjean

Johnson Grosjean Indy 500 test rain
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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The Indy 500 rookie test for Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean was cut short by rain after multiple delays Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The session started shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET (which had been moved up from an originally scheduled noon start because of the threat of inclement weather). According to the NTT IndyCar Series, Johnson was about halfway through Phase I of the Rookie Orientation Program, and Grosjean had yet to begin his ROP when rain caused the first stoppage after less than 30 minutes.

The test was restarted shortly after 3 p.m. ET, but the day was cut short just before 5 p.m. by another shower. Both drivers were able to complete the first two phases of the ROP. Grosjean is two laps short of finishing the third and final phase, and Johnson needs 10 more laps for completion.

The ROP, which is mandatory for any Indianapolis 500 rookie, requires drivers to achieve three levels of speed incrementally around the 2.5-mile track. Phase I is 10 laps at 205-210 mph, Phase II is 15 laps at 210-215 mph, and Phase III is 15 laps at more than 215 mph.

In a Twitter video, Johnson said he had made laps between 206 to 208 mph in the No. 48 Dallara-Honda with Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi driving consultant Dario Franchitti, a three-time Indy 500 winner, was on hand at the test to help Johnson.

“It’s certainly much different than what I’ve ever experienced around this track,” said the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who won the Brickyard 400 four times on the IMS oval. “Just trying to get my eyes used to the speed. Certainly a different feel in the car without power steering. Just the sense of the car is a lot different. A lot lighter vehicle. Much more reactive than what I’ve had here in the past.

“Just taking it in, enjoying it, and look forward to getting back on the racetrack once the weather moves through and complete my rookie orientation.”

As of 1 p.m. ET, track drying efforts were under way at IMS.

Jimmie Johnson begins his Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

After running a 12-race schedule of road and street courses as a rookie in 2021, Johnson was making his IndyCar debut on an oval.

Grosjean also focused on road and street courses last season. He made his oval debut at World Wide Technology Raceway in August. The IMS test marked his debut with Andretti Autosport, which he will join for a full season in 2022.

Before making laps Wednesday, Johnson made light of having to reapply the rookie stripe to his car after he removed it following the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach season finale last month.