Jimmie Johnson has no trouble with healing right hand during Indy 500 test


INDIANAPOLIS — Jimmie Johnson looked every bit like a four-time race winner on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s historic oval for an Indy 500 test Wednesday.

Only this time, his blue No. 48 was an Indy car turning laps in excess of 215 mph.

The seven-time NASCAR champion climbed as high as third on the speed chart before finishing the first of two Indianapolis 500 test sessions pain free. He told reporters he has been feeling good since doctors surgically inserted a screw into his broken right hand on April 11.

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“I was surprised with how big the screw was, but the pain was just gone in such a short time after the surgery,” Johnson said on pit road. “But I didn’t have any soft tissue issues, either.”

Johnson later said in a social media video that he was pleased to finish with the sixth-best lap in the early two-hour veteran session.

Johnson, 46, still took some precautions – wearing protective padding over a wrap around his injured hand. It certainly didn’t slow down his car or his learning curve.

Johnson noted the ovals he avoided in his inaugural IndyCar season last year put less force on his hand than the Long Beach street course, where he drove with a splint after suffering the injury in a practice crash, or than he might endure in the May 1 race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.

Johnson finished a career-best sixth March 20 at Texas Motor Speedway in his IndyCar oval debut.

While many veterans struggled Wednesday with pit exit during a blustery session that began after a 90-minute rain delay, Johnson posted the eighth-fastest non-tow lap in the first two-hour window of on-track activity.

Johnson, of course, is quite familiar with ovals after spending 20 seasons in NASCAR’s premier series and earning 83 victories — four in the Brickyard 400.

The difference was until Texas, he hadn’t turned such fast laps in traffic. Yet he looked every bit as comfortable as Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, and the six-time series champion said Johnson his eager for his Indy 500 debut May 29 on NBC.

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“I think seeing him here last year (as an NBC Sports analyst for the Indy 500), you already knew he made his decision,” Dixon said. “It just took him a little longer to say it.”

The test will continue Thursday with a six-hour session starting at 10 a.m. ET and televised on Peacock.

“These two days are kind of freebies for us,” Johnson said. “We shouldn’t be making any excuses come Memorial Day, and I think we’ll be OK.”

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change