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.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 15, 2021
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.”
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) December 15, 2021