Jimmie Johnson still mulling Indy 500 return with Ganassi; is allowed to race a Honda
Jimmie Johnson has yet to rule out returning to the Indy 500 for 2023, but he told the Associated Press that his NASCAR comeback could complicate a one-off for IndyCar.
The seven-time Cup Series champion revealed Wednesday that his new team (which he co-owns with Richard Petty and Maury Gallahger) will be rebranded Legacy Motor Club. Johnson will drive the No. 84 Chevrolet, the reverse of his longtime No. 48.
In addition to being co-owner, Johnson will drive part time in NASCAR, starting with the Daytona 500.
Johnson told The Associated Press in a Wednesday interview he’s still working on the rest of his 2023 schedule, including partnership announcements. Carvana, which sponsored Johnson’s two seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series, will be his sponsor for the Daytona 500.
Johnson said running the all-star exhibition race at North Wilkesboro Speedway is still high on his priority list, but he acknowledged that it conflicts with the Indianapolis 500 qualifying weekend. Johnson made his Indy 500 debut last season, turning laps at over 240 mph - before qualifying 12th and crashing late to finish 28th.
“The All-Star race is really high on my personal list, so I hope to do it, but there’s the Indy 500 piece that is out there on the IndyCar side, and that would be a conflict,” Johnson told the AP, adding that Chip Ganassi Racing is awaiting a decision from him on returning to make his second Indianapolis 500 start.
“I know that CGR needs a decision soon. They’re going to allocate engine sets and still trying to get the pieces to fall into place, and part of that is from sponsorship perspective.”
He said he does have permission to race a Honda for Ganassi at Indianapolis Motor Speedway even though he now owns a Chevrolet team in NASCAR and will drive Chevys in a handful of Cup races. Johnson is not planning to enter the exhibition Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum later this month but will attend as a team owner.
Johnson will test NASCAR’s second-year Next Gen car for the first time later this month at Phoenix. He also is expected to be announced later this month as one of the three drivers for NASCAR’s Garage 56 program at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.