Jimmie Johnson wants to drive in IndyCar race on July 4 at Indianapolis
NASCAR and IndyCar might have found the next driver ready to do “The Double” – with a twist.
Jimmie Johnson told NBC Sports’ Leigh Diffey in a Friday interview (video above) that he will take a “very hard look” at racing in the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course July 4. As part of IndyCar’s revamped schedule, the race was moved from May 9 and will take place directly before the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The seven-time Cup Series champion will be in town to race the Brickyard 400 the following day.
“I think that would be an awesome opportunity,” Johnson told Diffey. “Clearly a lot of things to sort out, and I haven’t even asked permission yet to pull it off. But I love the idea and am so thankful Graham (Rahal) brought it up because I would have probably missed it and reacted too late.”
Johnson had planned to test at Barber Motorsports Park next month before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought racing to a standstill.
“What’s funny is (Rahal) was texting me yesterday,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, then I looked on Twitter and understood what he threw out there. I am so thankful he brought that up. I have not looked at the schedule. I know that IndyCar posted (a schedule), but with NASCAR’s schedule up in the air, my head wasn’t even around that.
“So if that is the case, and those weekends do line up, I’ll take a very hard look at it.”
Johnson said he would have to run the idea by Hendrick Motorsports.
“Definitely, there’s approvals on my side from my team, Mr. Hendrick, sponsors,” Johnson said. “It would be a Chevy, so that part would be pretty easy to pull off. That approval process would really be it.
“I’d find out pretty quickly. I’m not sure I’d ever get the answer I wanted, but I’d find out quickly.”
Rahal told NBCSports.com’s Bruce Martin in a Thursday interview about sending the tweet to Johnson: “We all know he is going to come here in the future. Right now, he wants to stay committed to his craft and what he is doing” in NASCAR.
Johnson already will be racing against IndyCar competition Saturday, having been added to the IndyCar iRacing Challenge that will be held at Watkins Glen International at 4 p.m. ET.
The July 4 weekend would mark the first IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader, but there have been crossovers before.
There have been four drivers who raced “The Double” -- running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day: John Andretti (1994), Tony Stewart (1999, 2001), Robby Gordon (2000, ’02, ’03, ‘04) and Kurt Busch (2014).