Jimmie Johnson will race full time in IndyCar next season, including the 2022 Indy 500

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Jimmie Johnson will add the Indy 500 to his racing schedule in 2022 — but won’t stop there in expanding to running the full NTT IndyCar Series season.

After running 12 road and street course races as a 2021 IndyCar rookie, Johnson announced Wednesday morning he will become a full-time driver on the circuit next year with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Johnson revealed the news on NBC’s TODAY show while unveiling the new Carvana livery for his No. 48 Dallara-Honda. The online auto retailer also is expanding its 2022 sponsorship of Johnson to all but one race (the American Legion will back Johnson in a July race at Iowa Speedway).

Johnson initially planned to run road and street courses again next season, but the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion became interested in racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (where he won the Brickyard four times) last year as part of the IndyCar on NBC broadcast team.

“That moment being part of the broadcast really cemented my desire to be in the 500,” Johnson said Wednesday during his TODAY appearance. “It was my first time attending the race. I had massive FOMO in watching the event take place. Following that, there were many steps to work through. The two oval test sessions that I competed in really helped me get to the place where I am today, and I’m ready to go.”

He made his oval debut in an Indy car during an Aug. 31 test at Texas Motor Speedway and later tested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October, completing the Rookie Orientation Program for new Indy 500 drivers.

“I’m really excited about this next chapter of my career and competing in the No. 48 with Carvana for the 2022 season,” Johnson said in a release. “The safety of these cars has come so far, and after I tested the ovals at Texas and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I realized this was a challenge I wanted to undertake.

“I’m thankful for Chip, Carvana and all who made this possible.  Last season was so incredible for me, and I made a lot of progress, so I know I can be competitive on tracks that I have experience on. I can’t wait to be part of the Indianapolis 500, it’s a childhood dream come true.”

Johnson scored a best of 17th last season in the Long Beach Grand Prix in August. The No. 48 ran the full season for Ganassi with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan filling in for Johnson in the oval races. The Associated Press has reported Kanaan is expected to race in the 2022 Indy 500 for Ganassi, but it’s unclear whether he will run the other oval races.

“We are very happy about Jimmie running the whole 2022 season and that Carvana will be on nearly all of those races,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “I am looking forward to seeing Jimmie get back on the track after having a year under his belt.  With all the experience he has on ovals from his NASCAR career and adding it to his 2021 experience in an Indy car, we think the IndyCar ovals will play right into his strength.  I can’t wait for the 2022 season to begin.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)