Jimmie Johnson undergoes hand surgery; expects to keep racing during full recovery

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Jimmie Johnson underwent surgery Monday night for the fractured right hand he suffered in a practice crash last week for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

In a social media update Tuesday morning, Johnson said he expects he will be ready for an Indy 500 test April 20-21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the April 29-May 1 weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Johnson’s surgery was performed by Dr. Glenn Gaston, the Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship Director at OrthoCarolina. Johnson is expected to make a complete recovery and should be unaffected for his planned May 29 debut in the Indy 500.

In further social videos posted Wednesday morning, Johnson showed that he had a screw inserted in his right pinky finger and had begun exercises to improve the hand’s mobility.

Johnson suffered the injury during a practice crash at Long Beach last Friday when his right hand got caught in his steering wheel after an impact with the Turn 5 tire barrier. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crashed his No. 48 Dallara-Honda again Saturday in practice and toward the end of a 20th-place finish Sunday on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street course that is his hometown event in the NTT IndyCar Series.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who is 14th in the points standings through three races, said he initially considered skipping Long Beach to put a priority on getting healed for racing in the 106th Indianapolis 500. That decision was weighed despite a large contingent of family and friends on hand last weekend to watch Johnson, who considers Long Beach his hometown race having attended numerous times as a frequent fan while growing up in El Cajon, California.

The May 1 race at Barber Motorsports Park figures to be another stiff test because the road course near Birmingham, Alabama, is considered one of the most physical tracks on the IndyCar circuit, and the May 14 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course also will be a challenge.

“If we’re talking just the Speedway, he could race there tomorrow with his hand the way it is,” IndyCar on NBC analyst James Hinchcliffe said Monday night on the NASCAR America MotorMouths show on Peacock. “The nature of that track, how smooth it is, the type of physicality is quite a bit different, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

“The problem is we have Barber and the Indy GP before that. Two very fast, high-speed road courses. They’re not as aggressive on the steering wheel as you see on a street circuit, the bumps on a Long Beach or St. Pete or Detroit can be a big challenge when you’re dealing with an injury like that, but I think he’s going to be OK.

“We saw Charlie Kimball a few years ago break his hand, he got surgery and was back in a race a week later. The fact Jimmie competed at Long Beach showed he’s strong enough. It’s not bothering him too much in the car, and I think he’ll be good by the time we get to Barber and certainly by the Speedway. He’s going to be OK.”

After running a partial schedule on road and street courses last year, Johnson is two races into his first full-time season in the IndyCar season and finished a career-best sixth in the March 20 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

That impressive performance in his IndyCar oval debut raised the anticipation for Johnson’s expected Indy 500 debut next month.

As he has throughout his first full season in IndyCar, Johnson has been proactive about providing a behind-the-scenes look at his injury, including this video of the first 24 hours after the Long Beach crash that included how a carbon fiber splint was fashioned.

Johnson had sought assurances that he could avoid further damage to his hand Sunday over 85 laps at Long Beach.

“I’m more focused on Indy, as much as I want to be here, if I had to give this one up to make sure that I’m ready for (the May 1 race at) Barber (Motorsports Park), the test in two weeks, or the 500, I was willing to forego this,” Johnson. “But this morning things started to improve as I worked in the cockpit, worked on the splint. And I’ve ended up in a really good spot with it.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III