Jimmie Johnson announces Carvana as sponsor for IndyCar venture with Ganassi
Jimmie Johnson unveiled online used car seller Carvana as a major sponsor Saturday as the seven-time champion in the NASCAR Cup Series makes the transition to the NTT IndyCar Series.
According to a release from Chip Ganassi Racing, Carvana will be the “primary partner” for Johnson, who will be testing the No. 48 Dallara-Honda at Barber Motorsports Park and Laguna Seca next month.
Johnson will drive in the full slate of 13 road and street circuits next season.
His schedule will start with the March 7 season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, and also include Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Detroit, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Toronto, Nashville, Portland and Laguna Seca.
Team owner Chip Ganassi said the car likely will be fielded at the oval races in 2021 (including the Indianapolis 500), too, for someone aside from Johnson.
Johnson was in St. Pete to announce the deal at a Saturday afternoon news conference with Ganassi and to check out practice and qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season finale.
He will be racing Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and then at Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix Raceway as he concludes his run in the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson said he has high expectations of winning but realizes there is “a very steep learning curve ahead of myself with new cars, tracks, people. But I love a good challenge and am really excited to start the next chapter in my motorsports career.”
Johnson became enamored with racing in IndyCar after he swapped cars with two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso nearly two years ago. He grew up as an Indy 500 fan in Southern California, and one of the key meetings early in his NASCAR career occurred the at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Though he plans to run only street and road courses in the first season, Johnson has said he is open to considering the Indy 500 for 2022.
After an unprecedented run in @NASCAR, 7x champ @JimmieJohnson is taking his talents to @IndyCar and the world of open-wheel racing…and #TheNewWayToBuyACar will be with him every step of the way! We’re proud to announce our official partnership with Jimmie and @CGRTeams! pic.twitter.com/yzUUGe7vG8— Carvana Racing (@CarvanaRacing) October 24, 2020
During an interview last Tuesday on the SiriusXM NASCAR channel, IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske said Johnson “hopefully will get the bug on the road course, and we’ll get him to run in the 500.
“He is a pro,” Penske said of Johnson. “His integrity, his transparency, his driving ability, the championships he’s won. It’s time for him to move onto something else, and he gets it, and the chance to hook up with Chip, who’s got if not the best IndyCar ride in the paddock is terrific
“There’s no question that he coming to IndyCar will just bring a lot of his fan base. I’m sure he’ll attract some good sponsors to his car. To me, positive for him, positive for us as a series. To me, it’s an interesting move. I can’t say enough good things about him and what he’s done for the sport. Class guy. Great guy.”