Jimmie Johnson replaced by Jose Maria Lopez for Twelve Hours of Sebring

Jimmie Johnson Sebring
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson will miss the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring because of a conflict with the NTT IndyCar Series, the Action Express team confirmed Thursday.

Jose Maria Lopes will replace Johnson on the No. 48 Ally Cadillac, joining Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller for the March 19 race at Sebring International Raceway. It’s the same lineup (with Johnson) that raced the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but Johnson had been announced as racing the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Endurance Cup races with Kobayashi and Rockenfelller.

But Johnson faced virtually impossible logistics in trying to race in the same weekend at Sebring and Texas Motor Speedway, where he will make his IndyCar oval debut March 20 (ahead of his first attempt at the Indy 500 as he moves to a full schedule in 2022).

The schedule conflict apparently will preclude any IndyCar drivers from racing at Sebring. After using three IndyCar drivers in its Rolex 24 lineups, Chip Ganassi Racing announced Tuesday that Ryan Hunter-Reay would join one of its Cadillacs at Sebring in a spot that had been ticketed for Scott Dixon.

“I was really looking forward to going back and racing the Ally Cadillac at Sebring,” Johnson, who initially planned to commute between Florida and Texas, said in a release. “We had a great run there last season and were in contention for the win for most of the race. José María is an excellent driver, and he will do great. I know the team’s experienced, and they can get the Ally Cadillac up on the podium, hopefully the top step.”

It will be a busy weekend at Sebring for Lopez and Kobayashi, who are racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship eight-hour race a day earlier at the track.

“It was great to be a part of the Ally Cadillac team at Daytona 24,” Lopez said in a release. “I was very proud of the team effort and how Jimmie, Mike, and Kamui drove in the race. Things just didn’t go our way. We had good pace. It was my first experience at Daytona and racing in America. It was much better than what I expected. I was happy with my performance in the car.

“This is a plus. I was planning to be in Sebring anyway, unfortunately Jimmie isn’t able to do both IndyCar and IMSA at the same time. I will be there for the first WEC race. We race on Friday with Toyota and then I will cross the garage and race on Saturday in the Ally Cadillac. I am really thankful for the opportunity to drive again with Action Express Racing and hopefully me, Mike and Kamui can deliver a good result.”

Action Express general manager Gary Nelson said Lopez had been part of contingency plans since the Sebring-Texas conflict appeared when the series announced their 2022 schedules last year.

“It was really an easy decision to bring in José María,” Nelson said. “He ran with us at Daytona, did all the testing leading up to the Rolex, so slotting him in was a no-brainer. He and Kamui are running the WEC race as well. But they are fit, and I think the extra laps at Sebring can only help us come race day for our Ally Cadillac effort in the 12-hour race. We will miss Jimmie and wish him all the best in Texas.”

Johnson made an eventful debut at Sebring last season. After crashing in qualifying and spinning 15 minutes into the race, he rebounded to lead the race. But the No. 48 team had a podium finish stripped because of a drive time penalty.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports