Jimmie Johnson, Romain Grosjean scheduled to try Indy 500 rookie program Wednesday
Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean will turn laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for the first time Wednesday, attempting to complete the Rookie Orientation Program for the 106th Indy 500 next year.
The session will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET (updated from an original noon start time because of the weather forecast) as Johnson and Grosjean, who focused on road and street courses as NTT IndyCar Series rookies, run through the test required before qualifying and racing for the Indy 500.
Grosjean recently announced he will run a full-time schedule for Andretti Autosport next season, and Johnson is expected to add the Indy 500 to his part-time schedule next year with Chip Ganassi Racing.
The Rookie Orientation Program involves drivers advancing through three phases of controlled speeds around the 2.5-mile layout.
Parameters for today's ROP at @IMS for @JimmieJohnson & @RGrosjean:— Nathan Brown (@By_NathanBrown) October 6, 2021
-They get 3 sets of tires (so no, even if weather allows, they won't run for 6 hrs)
-Phase I: 10 laps 205-210 mph
-Phase II: 15 laps 210-215 mph
-Phase III: 15 laps 215+mph
Then they're ready for May '22.
Grosjean made his oval debut last year at World Wide Technology Raceway, finishing 14th with Dale Coyne Racing.
Johnson tested on an IndyCar oval for the first time Aug. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway, hitting average speeds of over 214 mph on the 1.5-mile oval. Teammate Scott Dixon shook down his No. 48 Dallara-Honda, and Johnson also got pointers from Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti.
After turning about 200 laps at Texas, Johnson said he was “definitely a step closer” to racing at the Indy 500.
“I think that there are more conversations to be had with family, team and sponsors, at least another test session ahead of me before I can really make a decision,” he said. “but driving the car only piqued my interest more.”
Good morning from @IMS. Track drying is happening as we speak from the overnight rain. Jay Frye says they’re trying to get it set for the planned 10:30 start time.— Nathan Brown (@By_NathanBrown) October 6, 2021
Mixed feelings around those here whether that’ll happen or not. pic.twitter.com/iM8jTFDTOs
There is a possibility that the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion could add more oval races to his 2022 schedule, though it would require additional sponsorship as well as greater acclimation to turning left in IndyCar after doing it for nearly two decades in NASCAR.
“There’s still so many hurdles between now and one event that to look at the others is tough at this point,” he said. “I will need to face that decision and that opportunity in the somewhat near future, and we’ll just see how this next test session (at Indy) goes and really how everything aligns.”
Johnson and Grosjean just wrapped their rookie seasons in IndyCar on an upward trajectory. Grosjean scored his third podium finish of the season at Laguna Seca Raceway (after colliding with Johnson before taking third). Johnson tied a career-best finish in the Grand Prix of Long Beach season finale, finishing 17th for the second consecutive race.